Monthly Archives: July 2014

The UK’s new inland surfing centers: should we be stoked?

Projection for the Surf Snowdonia inland surfing center
Projection for the Surf Snowdonia inland surfing center

Two big construction projects currently underway in the UK could completely change the face of surfing. Thanks to recent technology, a couple of new inland surfing centers are slated to open in Snowdonia and Bristol, not only making surfing possible where it once wasn’t, but also allowing for an unheard of predictability of waves. Each of the sites will essentially consist of a large man-made inland lake featuring artificial (and highly consistent) waves.

Using Wavegarden’s wave generation system, Surf Snowdonia is promising to have world-class waves on-demand once the site opens in early summer 2015. “Revolutionary Wavegarden technology means that 1.9m high perfectly formed tubing waves that peel for more than 200 m with a 1 minute frequency can now be created at the touch of a button,” reads a section on their website. That’s over 6′ of wave. Meanwhile, The Wave in Bristol is looking to produce waves at least 5′ tall.

What such big (and regular) waves could mean for the sport is something that’s never been possible before — olympic status. Though over 23 million people surf, surfing has never been an Olympic sport, largely because, as The Guardian puts it, “only a few countries boast consistently good surf, and even they cannot guarantee to deliver during an Olympics.”

Pic of inland surfing from Bristol's The Wave
Pic of inland surfing from Bristol’s The Wave

But is all that even something surfers actually want? For us at Eidon, our motto’s always been “live, travel, surf,” and we think that’s a philosophy shared by many in the scene. Lots of people would rather see the world and feel a real connection with the ocean than ride artificial waves on an inland lake. And for many more, olympic goal just isn’t the goal.

It begs the question, are these massive construction projects happening because surfers want them? Or is this just a way for corporations to cash in, with the surfing centers eventually going to waste? And if sites like those at Bristol and Snowdonia do work out, are they going to attract the right people, or just turn surfing into a gimmick, something tourists can check off their list of things to do on vacation?

In the opposite view, centers like these could help grow the sport, bringing surfing to people from all over the world, not just those who are lucky enough to live where there’s great natural surf. Or, as Aussie surfer Dimity Stoyle said in interview, they could help ease some of the traffic in more popular surf spots: “I think it would open it up to a lot more people around the world and it would probably help the current situation in Queensland where surfing is getting so popular it’s a little bit out of control.”

Plans for Bristol's The Wave inland surfing center
Plans for Bristol’s The Wave inland surfing center

Likewise, International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre thinks inland surf centers mark a new beginning for the sport, saying in interview that “surfing no longer has geographical restrictions,” and that “we can host world-class surfing competitions with waves that are always consistent, powerful and publicly available. Surfing can now aspire to become a part of the Olympic Games and other multi-sport events.”

And for what it’s worth, the people behind the surf centers themselves think it’s for the best. Nick Hounsfield, co-founder of the Bristol site The Wave made a point of telling The Guardian that his center “will not be a middle class playground,” and that it’s “not intended to be a fake, plastic imitation of the ocean.” Rather, he hopes The Wave and other inland surf centers will make surfing even better:

“There is a lot of pressure on surf spots around the globe. Sometimes hundreds, possibly thousands, in the water, and half-decent surfers can’t get waves.”

Still, it’s an iffy call as to whether we should be stoked about surfing at these new venues or not. What’s your take? Let us know in the comments section.

Kama the surfing pig: he’s so hot right now

Move over Kardashians, the world has a new celebrity whose name starts with a K, and he’s way more athletic, loveable, and (let’s face it) useful than any of you will ever be. So it’s not really all that important that he’s not actually human.

Kama the surfing pig with a nose full of sand
Kama the surfing pig with a nose full of sand

Meet Kama, the surfing pig. Or maybe you already have, since he’s already a huge star. Born in Bellows Beach, Hawaii, Kama started surfing when he was just a piglet. But he’s come a long way since then, getting the attention of local and national media, along with his own Instagram account. He’s even scored sponsorship deals that have netted him free surfboards, clothes, and a GoPro, while, this year, his likeness made it onto the 2014 Honolulu Film Festival poster.

As with the best origin stories, Kama’s is a zero to hero tale. Kama first met his guardian, Kai Holt, when he wandered onto Holt’s campsite in late 2013. Holt soon figured out that the piglet was an orphan and decided to keep him, naming him Kamapua’a (Kama for short) after the hog-man fertility god of Hawaiian mythology.

Kama on the poster for the 2014 Honolulu Surf Film Festival
Kama on the poster for the 2014 Honolulu Surf Film Festival

Not long after, back at home, Kama fell into Holt’s swimming pool. Though Holt was surprised that pigs could even swim, it turned out that Kama took to the water like a fish. And, when Holt headed down to the beach with Kama and a stand up paddle board, Kama tackled the waves like a pro.

These days, Kama’s managing bigger waves than any other pig has done; a Hawaii News Now story cites a surfing pig in new Zealand, but says he’s only riding ankle slappers. Kama, on the other hand, is no stranger to bigger surf and the wipeouts that come with it, which he just shrugs off like any old pro.

Kama surfing on an SUP with guardian Kai Holt
Kama surfing on an SUP with guardian Kai Holt
Kama on a chopper looking like a rock star
Kama on a chopper looking like a rock star

Even with all the recent attention, though, Kama’s managed to stay humble. He still leads a quiet life with the other animals on Holt’s farm, and keeps his bonds of friendship with Holt strong, following him everywhere. Kama also keeps his diet clean and vegetarian, so he won’t get too heavy for a board. And aside from surfing, he doesn’t put on any human airs.

Kama living the good surf life
Kama living the good surf life

In the end, Kama’s just a simple pig who likes to surf, and that’s what people love about him. “You know surfing is Hawaii’s gift to the world. It’s like true happiness,” Holt says. “That’s what this guy does. Everywhere he goes he just makes people smile and laugh. He just brings joy to the world.

Check out Kama the surfing pig on Instagram here, or on Facebook here.

Surfing on ‘shrooms: growing the next crop of eco-friendly surfboards

Most surfers would say they care about the environment. After all, nature is a big part of the sport and the culture. But while most people in the surf scene do have a pretty admirable environmental conscience, there’s one bad habit that can’t really be ignored — the boards.

Ecovative Mushroom surfboard
A Fungus-Based Mycelium Surfboard From Ecovative

Aside from wooden boards (and the woods used in surfboards aren’t usually rapidly renewable) most surfboards are made from toxic foam plastics. Add to that the fact that the average lifespan of a board isn’t all that long. So, what happens after a few good months, or at best years, when a polyurethane or polystyrene board finally gets kicked to the curb? Well, it certainly doesn’t turn into compost.

Thanks to Ecovative, though, a new, more eco-friendly surfboard may be coming your way soon. In fact, it’s probably being grown as we speak. That’s right, grown, because instead of toxic foams, The New York-based company is building its surfboards, fins and handplanks out of a completely new, completely sustainable material that’s mostly mushrooms.

Ecovative Fungus Surfboard Mycelium Material

Not strictly a surfboard maker, the company developed its eco-friendly Mycelium material to replace all types of expanded foam plastics, like the styrofoam used in packaging. Essentially a glue made from fungus roots, Ecovative uses Mycelium to bind plant-based materials (usually crop waste like plant stalks and seed husks) into the finished product.

The result is a super strong material that floats and repels water just as effectively as the foam plastics typically used to make surfboards, fins and handplanks, except that these mushroom-based products won’t create toxic waste like plastics do. Meanwhile, Mycelium boards are about as easy to patch as ordinary boards, and don’t need any special supplies to repair. Bio-based and biodegradable, Myco Foam is the closest we’ve come so far to a truly sustainable board, especially if it’s glassed with eco-friendly resin.

So, where can you get your own surfboard made from mushrooms? As yet, you can’t. But Ecovative says it’s currently “collaborating with the industry’s top surfboard manufacturers and shapers” to get their boards out there. Hopefully that happens soon, since riding waves on ‘shrooms is something we’ve always wanted to try.

Check out Ecovative and learn more about their sustainable Mycelium plastic alternatives at their website here

Surf Texas: waiting for waves in the Lone Star State

Not everything’s bigger in Texas. When it comes to the Lone Star State’s surf scene, Texans just have to make do with something a little more modest than what you’d find in surf meccas like Hawaii or California. Even the waves themselves are on the small side most of the time. But as Surf Texas, a new photography book from Kenny Braun shows us, size isn’t everything.

Book cover for Kenny Braun's Surf Texas
Book cover for Kenny Braun’s Surf Texas

Published this year with a foreword by Texas-based writer Stephen Harrigan, Surf Texas is a cool and stark new photo essay that looks at what it’s like to be a surfer in Texas. Spoilers: it’s not super easy.

Sure, the state lays claim to a pretty sizeable stretch of the Gulf Coast, with its coastline spanning from Galveston to South Padre. And, yeah, its shores do sometimes serve up some beautiful surf, but that’s by no means a given. Finding a good wave is a slow, unsure business, and as a result, Texas’ surfers have to be patient, devoted, and a little used to disappointment.

Photo from Kenny braun's Surf Texas
Photo from Kenny braun’s Surf Texas
Photo From Kenny Braun's Surf Texas
Photo From Kenny Braun’s Surf Texas

That quiet, downbeat, vibe is all over Braun’s Surf Texas, with what Harrigan describes in the foreword as “something altogether different, a somewhat journalistic black and white chronicle that presents surfing not as high adventure but as dogged pursuit.”

Here, you get lonely landscapes and shots of hauntingly calm, glassy water that’s dark as ink at night. That’s not to say that Braun’s photos can’t also be beautiful, or that they don’t capture the bursts of energy that must come with catching the kind of great surf that’s more elusive in Texas.

Photo from Kenny Braun's Surf Texas
Photo from Kenny Braun’s Surf Texas

But, with Surf Texas, you do get the feeling of something harder, slower, and sometimes even a little sad — a totally different side to the pursuit of surfing, but one that’s definitely worth checking out.

To check out Kenny Braun, visit his website here, and for a copy of Surf Texas, get it online via the University of Texas Press here.