At ECHO Surf Supply we love to connect with the creators, thinkers, designers and builders who are making waves in sustainable surfboard design. Those who balance performance and aesthetics whilst harbouring a desire to do it in an increasingly sustainable way.
Part of our philosophy has been to understand that changing techniques, materials and a craft perfected over many years of practice and research, doesn't happen overnight. The pursuit of more sustainable surf design can be adaptive and those who are on the path to making changes to surfboard building methods (both seismic and steadily progressive) ignite our stoke.
Beauty in Burnt Orange (and other tints)
A primary focus in our ECHO mission is to challenge the negative and dismissive preconceptions of what sustainable surfboard design can look like. Performance is of course absolutely key, but if we’re being honest with ourselves what it looks like really matters too. Cos at the end of the day, if we don’t love it on all fronts, it’s a relationship that just won't last.
For too long the societal narrative of all things eco, sustainable, recyclable and recycled have been relegated to the "Hessian Shreddies" aesthetic and more than often the expectation of surfboard made in such a way will resemble that of a “knitted digestive biscuit”.
To demonstrate our point we decided to put a number of our first shipment of Polyola eco blanks in the hands of a few selected shapers, that we knew would prove what was truly achievable … and we weren’t disappointed.
John at OLERO is undoubtedly making some of the finest surf craft out there - modern twists on classic aesthetics resulting in designs that are not only mouth-droolingly eye-catching, but also sought after for their premium finish and performance.
John is understandably a man in high demand, with an order book that extends beyond these shores, with boards now gracing waves of Costa Rica and collections making their way out east to Japan.
One of the first reasons we were drawn to Olero and John's designs was that we knew the off-white, natural hue of Polyola blanks was in no way going to be a barrier but more of an inspiration for what he could create, which unbelievably and unfortunately is an instant deal breaker for some.
Regarding inspiration for the board John said:
“The rails/board are based off of George Greenough's edge design which I had been curious about for some time and after reading the book and film by Ellis Ericson and Andrew Kidman on George's design 'On the edge of a dream' I was flooded with inspiration and just had to find out for myself what feelings this could offer. The Polyola blank seemed like the perfect opportunity to incorporate the edge design into one of my already familiar shapes that I felt would lend itself well to the concept.”
… and the foam itself:
"So I'm totally impressed with the Polyola blank and foam, the quality is up there with the top PU blank manufacturers in my opinion, with a consistent and reliable cell structure. The 6'4 blank which I used to shape the fish from offers good rocker curves, thickness and width, giving you a solid base to shape whatever your minds desire and without too much planer work. Some blanks are just difficult to handshape from where they have weird rockers, thickness etc and it almost seems you are fighting against the blank rather than working with it, so a well designed blank can help save the shaper time and effort which I feel Polyola have done well."
"Oh, but it's not white"
The oh so often quoted (and increasingly tedious) qualm with Polyola blanks is the foam colour. In our view, this perhaps shows that the community could throw more consideration into changing up the narrative, open up some minds, get hyped on the possibilities and reconnect with the essence of surfing as a subculture … there are no rules remember? Rule books have no place here and individual expression holds calibre beyond cookie cutter trends.
John’s thoughts regarding the blank colour:
"When glassing the board I felt it would be good to utilise the foams natural colour, so yes that is the natural colour of the blank on the underside which I absolutely love for that retro feel it gives, complimented with a similar contrasting toned resin tint. The glassing of it was pretty straight forward, nothing different from how you would glass any other PU blank. The colour of the foam obviously makes for a different starting point/canvas background though which can effect resin tint results, I would only say for achieving bright colours this may cause some difficulty but is perfect for earthy tones which is completely my bag anyway.
Couldn't have been happier with how it all turned out.
Thanks again guys for your generosity and trust in letting me loose on this one!"
We are delighted to see the perhaps antiquated mind set of “if it’s not ice white, it’s not right” starting to dissipate, as Polyola eco foam is proving itself among some of the largest shaping houses in Europe and making its way into boards being used on the QS circuit.
The tones, tints and tantalising colourways, as demonstrated here, are readily achievable and set you in good style for wherever your break of choice may be.
Looking forward over your shoulder
What's good enough for the likes of Pyzel who are now creating a range using Polyola blanks and John Olero skillfully hand crafting a batch too, should mean it's good enough for all to consider ... so get on board ;)
Watch this space for more great stuff that we at ECHO are currently cooking up with the guys at Polyola. A tour coming later in the year to showcase not only a new foam formula but also their ground breaking plant-based polyester resin. We’ll be heading around the south-west later in the year as we head into Autumn in late September. Keep an eye on our Instagram for dates and locations and reach out if you’d like for us to pay you a visit!
In the meantime, we’ll just leave this here …