Are We Going Back to Wood Surfboards?

One of the paradoxes of surfing is that surfers tend to be more aware of environmental responsibility than the average citizen, yet the sport of surfing itself is terribly destructive in terms of materials used for boards, wetsuits, travel and so on.  But take heart, there are some emerging pioneers in the surf industry who are taking it upon themselves to find more responsible ways to make the equipment we use.

One such rogue is Mark Roberts, owner-operator of Glass Tiger Surfboards.  He is working on creating a greener surfboard.  His boards still use a foam core, but the EPS foam is partially recycled material and fully recyclable after the fact.  But the real change in his design is a wood finish to the board instead of fiberglass and resin.  The board is skinned with thin birch faced plywood or veneer reinforced with glass and eco resin on the inside.  Rails are created by laminating hard woods (Cornish ash and oak, locally grown) together, providing a strong parabolic rail. And for the ding prone areas of the board like the nose and tail Roberts uses a dark, hard wood (Iroko) for extra strength.

The funniest thing his surfboards are almost like a pieces of wood furniture in one’s house.  To help with their longevity, one needs to maintain them by oiling the wood or even re-varnishing every few years.  The major downside is that he is in Cornwall, England, so unless you live there, shipping will be costly.  Still the boards look like they are worth a spin.  I’ve been looking for a new fish…

Glass Tiger Surfboards

Check out the video of Roberts at work:
[youtube height=”425″ width=”570″][/youtube]


  1. Tracey on 2 October 2009 at 6:06 pm

    I’d love to try out a wooden board. Glass Tiger and Hess Surfboards ( have some beautiful looking boards.

    I like that they are durable, can be made out of more earth friendly products, etc. For me the big stumbling block is the price. At 1-2k for Hess’ boards it’s unlikely that I’ll have one any time soon and given how pretty they are, it’s equally unlikely I’ll spot one on craigslist.

    • Jeff on 5 October 2009 at 4:05 pm

      I know what you mean. Those Hess boards look gorgeous. This is the paradox of surfing – the more you surf, the less money you make, but the more you want new boards, which cost money. Vicious cycle. If only I could convince the board makers to send me samples to review. That’s the dream.

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