There’s a central irony in surfing. The simple disconnect between actor and motion, as Ryan Lynch sees it, arrives down to the boards that we choose surfing. “It’s the only activity on the planet the place you are practically immersed in mother nature, submerged in a overseas ecosystem—passing by means of kelp forests and swimming with otters between waves—yet surfers trip these harmful nightmares,” claims Lynch, blunt with his distaste for inexpensive foam surfboards. “The goods that choose us into this setting are some of the greatest contributors for killing it.”
In early 2018, immediately after six yrs as an engineer at Tesla, Lynch was burnt out. “We labored in ‘dog yrs,’ just like a startup,” he remembers. “Everything was rapidly and furious. I discovered a large amount, like optimizing creation movement and setting up for a service.” But realizing the want to get the job done for himself, Lynch developed a small tow-driving trailer, certain his newlywed wife that they required a honeymoon, and headed south. For six months they meandered on back again roads and distant seashores all the way to Panama. Lynch then prepared to return to Santa Cruz, CA, and commence a enterprise that aligned with his passions—combining woodworking, sustainability, and layout with the activity he loved, surfing.
“The surf sector began exclusively with wooden boards, but at a specific stage the strategy of a fantastic item turned something that was inexpensive, repeatable, and consumable,” Lynch describes of surfboards’ evolution to mass-creation, employing a petroleum-derived foundation, particularly polyurethane foam, and more not long ago expanded polystyrene foam. “Add to that a couple layers of fiberglass, polyester, or epoxy resin and the item turns into a chemical mess that is leaching micro-plastics into the ocean with every use.”
Lynch went the other way, “making eco-helpful boards that didn’t expense a fortune.” To do that, he looked at the full process—finding the suitable suppliers, chopping down on waste, utilizing greater components, and creating a item that would very last. “When you do all of the math on a product’s influence, the greatest variable is longevity. Most surfers change their primary board every two to 3 yrs. Earning boards that will very last a life time has been a goal from the commence.” In late 2018, Lynch released his corporation, Timber Surf Co.
His initial year was dedicated to greater understanding of hydrodynamics, creating a form and contour set. “I required to hold the approach in the palms of the craftsman, and not automate any of it,” he claims. Irrespective of their complexity, Lynch trapped to creating significant-stop wooden boards, hoping to encourage many others to search out eco-helpful solutions, much too. Working with wood was a fantastic start—it’s natural, plentiful, sturdy, biodegradable, and often upcycled or downcycled. And most importantly, it feeds our environment with oxygen. The polyurethane foam that provides the foundation content for most mass-made boards, however, is none of those people points. It is made in a lab, often outdoors the U.S. and its EPA creation specifications. It is delivered all over the world, zero % recyclable, and will practically hardly ever break down in a landfill. Owing to its abundance and infinite mother nature, it kills animals, reefs, and the ocean alone.
Lynch’s initial boards experienced no foam at all, yet he identified the approach challenging and laborious, with every board requiring dozens of gentleman-several hours to build. His enterprise began flat, forcing him to rethink the system within the initial year.
Now Timber Surf employs a combination of redwood and cork to complete the board exterior, which safeguards the recyclable polystyrene (EPS) foam on the inside of (and safeguards it from leaching anything at all out into the ocean). With accountable sourcing, Lynch claims that no trees are minimize down to make his boards. Working with a vacuum-bag approach, he secures the redwood skin and cork skin to the foam, creating a complete that is exclusive and approximately unachievable to replicate. He seals it with bio-dependent epoxy, which makes use of a 35 % tree-sap foundation, chopping down the non-all-natural articles to a significant diploma.
The emphasis on approach and components has direct to Lynch’s hottest Splinter sequence of boards, developed with an EPS main and wooden exterior. This integration retains them economical devoid of sacrificing top quality, while normally takes more scheduling. And with sustainability atop the priority record, Lynch commences with the producing plant alone, the place the the vast majority of the foam blanks are minimize to form on-web-site. “This makes it possible for all of the waste from the board-shaping approach to be captured at the resource,” Lynch claims, “and recycled back again into the supply chain, alternatively of currently being despatched into a landfill.”
After Timber gets the foam blanks, Lynch pairs it with the suitable wood. He’s designed a partnership with a regional mill that bargains only in fallen trees. The mill will minimize redwood skins to an remarkable level of specificity, intended precisely for Lynch’s boards. “The critical is that we remain absent from wood veneer, which is more paper and glue than wood. We use slab-minimize redwood, from trees suitable right here in the Santa Cruz mountains.”
Then arrives the tough section, really shaping the board for general performance in the water. For those people unfamiliar, quite a few of the layout factors may possibly seem to be like a further language. “I experienced to understand all the issues for every specific model—the define, huge stage, rocker, rocker apex, rail changeover, rail apex, center of mass, bottom contours, tail width and form, fin placement, cant, toe, and array, flex, and more.”
The new Splinter sequence parlayed his aims of sustainable producing into something that scales greater with a rate stage (ranging from $925-$1,450, depending on length/design) that reaches the mainstream surf market place. Lynch doubts he’ll ever be a important surfboard maker, while Timber will probable expand massive ample to pressure many others to change. “Surfers treatment about the ocean and I want to give them a greater choice. I really don’t expect to upset any important supply chains, but I do hope to confirm that surfers treatment about their playground.”
The challenge in this small-scale, palms-on enterprise design, Lynch claims, is that surfboards, even inexpensive ones, are amazingly underpriced. While most people have no issue paying out $5,000 on a mountain bike that is made off-instrument in a massive manufacturing unit assembly line, surfboards like those people made by Timber are totally by hand and just one at a time. “Sometimes I marvel if it’s a fool’s errand to contend with the major brands producing overseas,” he claims. “The challenge for us is not creating eco-helpful boards, it’s creating a sustainable enterprise.”
On the lookout into the future, Lynch’s vision continues to expand. “A major motivation of mine is empowering folks to build their own surf-craft, and we are gearing up to do that shortly with a shippable do-it-oneself surfboard kit.” Do it yourself kits have extensive been a staple in paddlesports (see below), while are a bit harder to come across in the surf world, with a couple notables out there now. “We hope that’ll democratize the landscape a large amount.”
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