Backyard surfboard manufacturers are springing up everywhere nowadays. Unlike most enterprises preceded by the word “backyard”, getting involved won’t get you killed or arrested.
Turns out the ingredients for a perfectly functional, eco-friendly surfboard can be grown at home. Then, if you have the manufacturing equipment and skills, you can create the board of your dreams in your own backyard.
Homegrown lemongrass surfboards
Gold Coast farmer, Meg McDougall, has been growing lemongrass for about five years now. In that time, she’s gotten to know her crop pretty well. Lemongrass has a foam-like texture on the inside that allows it to float if properly processed and waterproofed.
Inspired by her proximity to the Gold Coast surf, McDougall began to think creatively about this feature of the beautiful-smelling plants she cared for every day. Finally, her inspiration tipped over into action and she created a series of prototypes to test her theory.
While McDougall’s mock-ups don’t look quite like the boards under the arms of the surfers in the background, she’s hoping they soon will. Full-sized models have been commission from a local surfboard manufacturer.
McDougall is confident the lemongrass boards will appeal to environmentally conscious surfers. With countries like China and Korea dominating the cheap board market, it’s important for manufacturers at home to find innovative ways to add value and uniqueness to their offerings. This is true, not just for the surfboard industry, but for all manufacturers.
Wooden surfboards: kicking it old-school
There’s more than one way to make a backyard board. Another small Queensland operation, MKSY Surfboards, is using wood to make boards reminiscent of the early days of surfing. While we’re not suggesting it’ll be easy, any woodworker with an understanding of surfboard dynamics could venture into the world of wooden surfboards.
MKSY take about 80 to 100 hours to build each board by hand. This, and the fact that the boards last longer than their foam counterparts, allows them to attach price tags in the range of $2,000 to their creations. Another perfect demonstration of the way value-adding can help manufacturers avoid competition with cheap mass-production companies and thrive in a flooded market.
Learn the skills to make your own wooden surfboard
If you’d love to make your own eco-friendly board but are unsure of where to start, there are workshops all around the world that will take you through the process from bare materials to final touches. A quick Google search will connect you with the surfboard making workshop closest to you.