Over the last 23 years since I started the brand, goals for where I wanted to take Haydenshapes have continued to shift and evolve. We are not fully sustainable right now – there’s a long way to go yet but we are making a start and I am learning and educating myself on how surfboard manufacturing as an industry can move towards a greener future and how my brand might help impact or influence this in some way.
A few months ago, we created a floating workshop called ‘Remote’ and the concept of this was very much inspired by the way our industry started. Tinkering in your back shed – free of distractions. Obviously, this isn’t a typical back shed and I’m grateful my mate Chuck let me take over Palm Beach Lilypad for our first one. Also, to IWC Schaffhausen for working with me on it.
We also created a short film above which captures a bit of what we did and what I’m working towards. Rather than breeze over the detail of this project when it’s a topic that requires a lot of thought, I’ve posted some questions and answers below.
What up-cycled design concepts did you work on on board ‘Remote’?
I wanted to test 3:
- A stringer created using bio-resin, EPS foam and fiberglass / carbon fiber waste.
- A tail pad created with foam waste and bio urethane.
- Laminating an up-cycled cloth made with hand chopped carbon fiber and fiberglass waste off-cuts that I prototyped with Colan Australia. This was the key one I wanted to focus on in the film.
What is your feedback on each one:
The up-cycled stringer I made is currently a little too flexible and we need to reduce the weight, however I think I could continue to work on this concept and improve it. This does replace the wood, yes, and it is also regenerable from manufacturing waste.
The tail pad is a bit heavy to be honest and only really suited to a cruisy style of board like a twin fin or single fin. The theory works, but it needs refining to get more foam content into the pad.
The up-cycled cloth is an idea that definitely has legs. This was the first sample that I surfed and it actually felt really good. The carbon is currently a bit clumpy which can be refined but overall it felt very natural to your surfing and the flex was in time with you when making turns. It has a more homogenous flex compared with the lively flex of the carbon rail FutureFlex, but it still feel exciting under your feet, especially in a twin fin shape.
What are your plans with this cloth?
Right now I am working with Colan Australia on how this cloth can be scaled up from it’s current form which is having the off-cuts chopped by hand, aerated then fed into the weaver by hand. Designing and developing the process and machines to scale the process up to be able to make hundreds of meters in a run is the next challenge.
Over a decade ago, I worked with Damien and the Colan team on engineering unique carbon tapes for FutureFlex. The tapes we designed are currently the ones used now by the majority of surfboard brands industry wide. I’d love to work on materials like this the up-cycled cloth and others that everyone can access.
Is the idea of ‘Remote’ to promote Haydenshapes as a sustainable brand?
No. But I do want to use our reach and platform as a brand to show that we are taking steps towards building a product that has a more efficient use of raw materials which will ultimately have less impact on the environment and maybe influence others out there to make a start as well. We still build boards using traditional resins and materials. I still drive cars that require fuel, I catch planes and as much as I have minimized it, our manufacturing facility is not plastic free or chemical free by any means. I want to be transparent about that but also set goals for the brand and myself and make a start on it. It is going to take a lot of innovation outside and inside of our industry to become a sustainable industry as a whole.
In terms of surfboard manufacturing, where does creating a more eco-friendly product start?
I’ve always felt that consumption is a key area to improve. Build a product that lasts longer so consumers are buying less. Yes, there’s plenty that will argue “I have one of Hayden’s boards and it snapped” – that happens to every brand and shaper, boards will break. But I do stand by the quality of our product and the high end, quality materials I invest in to create boards with a longer lifespan. Tapping into 3rd party usage data through platforms like AwayCo where you can measure single usage in one board is a way that brands can really look at their durability at a level we haven’t been able to previously. Haydenshapes is the best performing brand on that platform globally when it comes to product lifespan. Use this data to build better products.
Eco alternative materials is of course an area loaded with opportunity right now to innovate but you need to question everything. For example. Is that recycled foam blank really making less of a foot print if it requires 10 times the energy and water usage to create in the first place? Could there be a better or more efficient use of EPS foam waste?
Reducing waste. How can you up-cycle excess materials or minimize the amounts of off-cuts produced in the first place. Foam wastage, as one example, will be drastically reduced if we redesigned the manufacturing process and blew the foam last, but that is challenging when making a custom surfboard. I’m looking at all areas at the moment – we all should be. Sustainable Surf are doing a great job of championing this shift, Fire Wire have some great initiatives in place too. Partner with people that know more than you and push you to be better at what you are doing.
Australia has seen one of the worst bushfire seasons in history and there is a lot of talk about the current impacts of climate change.
There’s no question that Climate Change is real. Look at the science and the facts. It’s been heavy seeing and experiencing what these bushfires have done to our country and habitat. Everyone here has been directly affected in some way and emotionally it’s been overwhelming. The silver lining is that it’s inspired more people to protest and have a voice and put pressure on our government to make change and protect both Australia and the world’s future. People are rallying together and donating from across the globe. Our fundraiser alone raised over $250,000 for Australia’s wildlife charity WIRES. I don’t think that everyday people know their place in how to help tackle this – we are not educated to that level on the topic – but we do know we want to change. I read this New York Times article the other day and thought it was pretty insightful. There is a lot of emotion out there and so many opinions, but I think it’s good to know how to channel that energy into the right places to actually help instigate real change vs just expressing yourself on social media.
A big shout out to Chris, Florian and the IWC Schaffhausen team not only for the inspiration during a tour of the Switzerland HQ a few years ago, but for helping bring this concept and idea to life. Also to Damien at Colan for partnering with me again on engineering a new material for our industry and Palm Beach Lilypad. Video Production: Crybaby Productions.