20 March 2017
Respecting the environment is a serious matter, it is not just a cultural obligation. Those who love to ride the waves of the sea are well aware of this. The world of surfing has always had a special relationship with nature: protecting the ocean is a sort of mission that has grown over time in a manner directly proportional to the increase in ecological risk. In recent years the surf industry has taken some decisive steps forward in this direction, replacing notoriously toxic products like polyurethane and fiberglass with sustainable materials like wood, bioresins and seaweed, without sacrificing performance and keeping the costs of production under control. An exemplary case is that of Otter Surfboards, which has made sustainability its forte. For about ten years, and with great dedication, it has been making surfboards inspired by the methods used for the first models invented in Hawaii. At his workshop in Truro, a small town in the north of Cornwall, surfer, shaper and founder of the company James Otter produces handmade wooden boards with a low environmental impact, combining traditional materials and techniques with advanced structural solutions and finishes. The wood used is Western redcedar, selected by Otter Surfboards for its lightness and resistance to salt water – it is sourced from a regenerated forest located in Southwest England. And to spread the word, James Otter and his team hold five-day workshops in which they teach people to build their own boards, step by step: choice of the material, creation of the template, shaping of the board, finishing.