What happens when your surfboard dies

Photo: Hungry Walrus

Building greener surfboards is a big topic at the moment in the industry, and that's great. But dealing with the other side of the spectrum is equally important. What do you do with a broken board? What do you do when a board is no longer usable, no longer serving its purpose? Throw it away? Off course not.

Gabe McCauley from Tracks Mag in Australia just wrote a really interesting piece on the second life of broken surfboards. Read on...

Photo: Ecto Handplanes

When I walked into local shaper Greg Frost’s shop in Port Macquarie, a lively chap named Tony introduced himself to me.

“I just snapped my board out at Lighthouse, I need a new one,” I mumbled to him under my breath.

“Have you got the board with you? I’ll give you 20 bucks for it,” he said.

My eyes lit up. ‘Is this guy insane’, I thought to myself. I was just going to put the thing in the bin but here I was, a poor intern journalist, about to make a profit off this schmo. Little did I know that Tony was no schmo, he’d done this before. He’s a board recycler, one of many around Australia who reuse old and broken boards and give them a new life.

Photo: DING MAN / South Coast Custom Surfboards

“When guys come in and they say they’ve snapped a board we try to get it off them and we repair them,” he said. “What we do is we try to sell them cheap to people that are trying to learn how to surf.”

“Anyone that comes in and picks the board up… we always tell them that it’s snapped,” he said. “It’s just an integrity thing.”

Although the snapped boards are usually pawned off to beginners, Tony believes he has a method of fixing the boards to make them super strong.

“I repair it using a process so that the boards aren’t too heavy,” he said. “We know it’s never going to break again… in the same spot. Sometimes it goes better.”

Profit is a minor goal for Tony and the team at Spirit Filled Designs (he’s going to sell my board for $250. A decent profit). Overall, the goal is to “reduce the impact” of surfboards on the environment.

“It’s not just the snapped boards either,” Tony said. “People bring in their broken legropes and we use the pads as straps. We also turn broken boards into hand planes. It all helps.”

Photo: Ecto Handplanes

The process of turning snapped boards into bodysurfing hand planes is one that artist Chris Anderson has also latched on to. His Ecto-Handplanes are currently all sold out, such is their popularity. The design graduate says the success of the hand planes comes from their chic appearance as well as their functionality.

“They are popular and it’s not just because they’re recycled. I’ve got the design side of things a little bit fresher now and people seem to be really digging it, ” he said.

The hand planes are also extremely functional, as shown in the video below.

“[On the wave in the video] you can just get barrelled the whole way through and make it. Once you get a few waves like that you start thinking ‘this is so much fun’,” he said.


The materials for Chris’ hand planes are entirely recycled from broken surfboards. These snapped boards were used in his art installation ‘1000 Surfboard Graveyard’ which garnered significant media exposure in 2011.

“It was an art campaign as well as a few different things. Its meaning did cross over a few boundaries,” he said.

“[It was] raising awareness about the unsustainable practices of surfboard manufacturing. But it wasn’t just about the waste, it was also about the emotional connection you get to a good board.”

“It highlighted the relationship with the board and when you break that board, the feeling of loss. It’s got multiple angles.”

Chris’ artwork was the first of its kind but since he completed the work, board graveyards have been created in commemoration of surfers. Notably, Ricardo dos Santos was recently honoured with a board graveyard.

“It was pretty cool to see that happen,” said the 25-year-old, who may have started a new surfing ritual.

Chris’ 1000 board graveyard may have been the first of its kind, but he is not the only artist using deceased surfboards as a medium and symbol...

Read the rest of the article on Tracks Mag...

What would you do with your broken board??


Gordon Fontaine
Gordon Fontaine


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