Cliff Kapono Photo: Jake Marote

Who You Brah? A ProTest Update

By Kahi Pacarro

A kid walked up to our bounty of fresh white surfboards with a capped level of exuberance that was ready to explode like a boiling kettle. Laid out in front of us was the first ProTest board demo, with first batch of ProTest surfboards ready for our surfing elite to test. He wanted one, but so did everyone else.

As a refresher, The ProTest is a project protesting against the 100% toxic surfboard and an opportunity for the Pro’s to Test more environmentally friendly surfboards. $10,000 will be awarded to the best performance of the Winter on an ecoboard with $1,000 going to filming team. The goal is to prove that boards don’t need to be so toxic. The quiver/library we have created through the ProTest is made up of boards made with 25% recycled foam cores from Marko Foam and 25% plant based resins from Entropy Resin and Prolink Resin. This is a big step forward, but there are still more steps that need to be taken. We believe that if we can push demand, we can then have costs come down through increased supply. Thus, companies will have more incentive to fund research and development creating even better ratios of improvement eventually at 100% safe. The competition will run until February 28, 2018. On March 1st, the same boards that the Pro’s will be testing will then become available to you. You’ll get a chance to surf the same quiver that the world’s top surfers were riding days prior.

Photo: Jake Marote

Now back to the grom enticed by our first batch of ProTest surfboards. As we explained to him at the board demo what we just explained to you, we could see his excitement grow, but at the same time my fears grew. I was going to have to tell him, “sorry kid, you’re not going to get your chance until March 1st with everyone else. For now, only the top pros can test the boards.” So when he asked, “Can I choose one?” I had to respond, “no”. He then respectfully responded with just enough confidence, “Can I show you some clips?”

I nodded, and as his phone buffered while to load a video, I reflected on two takeaways learned from ProTest thus far.

First, we created this project to develop a better board for the environment. While interacting with our shapers, glassers and sanders, certain highlights and dark secrets have been illuminated. We need to understand that the career of shaping, glassing and sanding takes a huge toll on personal health, since the chemicals used are toxic to our body systems. Boards that use less synthetic epoxy are not only better for the environment; they’re better for those making them for us. We really need to get to know our glassers and sanders (who are often the same person). Yes, the shaper is in a sense the architect, but it’s the glassers and the sanders that work the toxic slurry of resins and hardeners to deliver you the shapers vision. There are already 100% non-toxic options, but the average Joe won’t accept them because it means that their boards will no longer be bright white. We need to realize that better boards are needed not only for our environment, but just as much for the health of those that make them.

The second solid takeaway that I’ve shared with others is the durability of the boards. If we create an ecoboard that lasts just as long as a regular 100% toxic board, we really haven’t accomplished much. Because we are using epoxy, we can glass more durably, creating a board that should last longer. By utilizing a thicker glass to bring weights up for Hawaiian waves and a few actually using s-glass, we’ve created boards that can last at least twice as long as an average PU board. True sustainable boards will last a long time. A PU board glassed with s-glass that lasts 1 year versus 4 ecoboards that only last 3 months each is arguably more environmentally friendly. Therefore, we need to consider longevity into the econess of the boards.

The grom’s phone coming to life with a video of smoke, colors, and him walking through a jungle brought my thoughts back to the present. The video edit then showed a set of thick growling tubes where this same kid holding the phone enters and exits with spit complementing the wave with style and grace. Shocked, I stood there eyes wide open with a smile growing and proud warmth ready to tell this kid the words that were about to make his day, maybe week, or even Winter if he ends up winning. “Go ahead kid, take your pick. Choose anyboard you want.”

He eyed up the 6’6” RP Model Shaped by Eric Arakawa glassed with a 6 oz bottom and double 6 oz top by Monstah Glass in Wahiawa.

“What’s your name buddy?” I asked. With a shy and happy smile like Turtle gave Chandler in the North Shore he answered, “Lucas Godfrey.”

Kahi Pacarro is the Executive Director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.


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