Surf Industry: Embracing Real Innovation for a Sustainable Future?
The surf industry has a long history, and with that comes a certain level of comfort and complacency. As a part of this industry, RSPro has always pushed for innovation and sustainability. However, we can't help but notice the frustrating lack of innovation and creativity in some areas of the market, particularly when it comes to surf accessories like tail pads.
To illustrate this, Creatures of Leisure Instagram account asked about the biggest innovation in traction over the last 50 years and this was the result:
The biggest innovation was a Kick Tail? In 50 years? Really? We’re doomed I thought.
The Problem with Traditional Tail Pads:
At RSPro, when we first began developing tail pads in 2020, we asked ourselves some critical questions:
- Why do most tail pads look the same?
- Why are most tail pads made in a few factories very far away?
- Why aren't tail pads more sustainable?
- Why is there so much plastic wrap?
These questions led us to create our unique cork-based tail pads, which are different from anything else on the market.
Creatures of Leisure's "Revolutionary" Tail Pad:
Recently, Creatures of Leisure, a major tail pad brand, launched what they claim is the biggest innovation in surf equipment over the last 50 years: The 80 USD “Proto 1.4”
Times are changing. In fact times always change and will keep changing. It’s us that need to evolve. This is the signs of change as per the Stab Mag article about the new tail pad launch: “Surfers have been historically branded as nature-loving purists but in the era of Greta Thunberg bumper stickers and watershed UN addresses by Sir David Attenborough we now all know how bad we should feel about the boards we ride”.
What Creatures of Leisure did is they reduced the EVA foam needed to produce a tail pad by molding it instead of subtracting EVA material from a block.
Sculpting represents the subtractive manufacturing process, where a sculptor starts with a solid block of material, such as marble or wood, and carefully removes pieces to reveal the desired shape or figure. This process often generates waste in the form of removed material that can't be reused.
On the other hand, building with LEGO bricks represents the additive manufacturing process. In this case, you start with individual pieces or components and add them together to create the desired structure or object. There's minimal waste, as you only use the exact number of bricks needed to complete the design.
So, in the case of traditional tail pads made by subtraction, a block of EVA foam is shaped by removing material, similar to sculpting. This process creates waste in the form of removed foam that often can't be reused.
In contrast, Creatures of Leisure's new tail pad manufacturing method uses an additive process, similar to building with LEGO bricks, by molding the EVA foam into the desired shape, reducing waste by only using the necessary amount of foam.
In fact this is how we at RSPro make our kicks and arch bars. They are molded since day 0.
While we applaud their effort to reduce waste, we can't help but feel disappointed and frustrated. Is this truly the pinnacle of innovation in 2023?
The Need for Real Innovation in the Surf Industry:
Creatures of Leisure's attempt at innovation highlights a larger issue within the surf industry: a reluctance to fully embrace change, technology, and sustainability. While they should be commended for trying, their efforts are simply not enough.
At RSPro, we don't want to point fingers solely at Creatures of Leisure. On the contrary. They are doing things and trying. The entire surf industry is to blame, and that includes us. We are part of it. We are all old, and we often resist innovation. But it's time to change that.
It's time for the surf industry and for the surfers to look forward, to invest in research and development, and to truly embrace innovation and sustainability. We need to create products that not only perform well but also have minimal environmental impact.
The surf industry, like any other, has a responsibility to innovate and become more sustainable for the sake of our environment and future generations. While Creatures of Leisure's recent attempt to tackle tail pad waste is a step in the right direction, it's time for the entire industry to embrace innovation and sustainability more proactively.
At RSPro, we've taken this responsibility to heart by developing cork-derived tail pads that are radically different from anything else on the market.
We challenge ourselves and the industry to push the boundaries and seek new ways to improve our products, reduce waste, and minimize our environmental impact. Let's be bold, think outside the box, and create a brighter future for surfing and our planet. The time for change is now. Us included.