Fatum Surfboards is all about making beautiful, functional surfboards the correct way with the best ingredients and components whilst retaining the utmost integrity. We don’t follow fashions or look to see what others are doing, we simply focus on ourselves and our mission. There is a reason I mention this, and that is because we have finally, we think, found a way that we can be more eco-streamlined with the newly dubbed ‘Fatum EcoGold Range’.
Why has it taken us so long and what is different about our eco surfboards?
You may remember reading or seeing countless solutions for more sustainable surfboards, from Firewires’ ‘wool core’ range to all the variations which feature EPS at their core. Of which there are multiple. We won’t waste time listing these, let’s just say that we never really believed the hype. The real problem until now has been that when you use EPS it changes the board, EPS is a material we don’t believe should be near a good surfboard. The next problem has been that our imported South African blanks are made from polyurethane foam and that is the very worst part of the surfboard for our lovely planet. How then have we found a solution?
The real issue is that we believe at the heart of every great surfboard is a great blank. The (very bad for the environment) South African surf blanks we currently use are, we think, the best we can get for the coaxial and latitudinal dynamic flex, reliability, and tensile strength also they work closely with us producing blanks that fit our templates. So we have a great blank already which is a lot to do with why Fatum surfboards are so good. If we wanted to be more eco-friendly, we HAD to change our blank, the trouble was that the replacements were all worse than a wet sack of kippers. Until now…
At the heart of the answer is a company which makes very, very good surfboard blanks, they are a new company that has one eye on the future, they are called Polyola and their blanks are as eco as we can get.
The surfboard world is full of a lot of misdirection and misinformation. Let us start with some facts.
1 – Most surfboard blanks are not made in Europe and have to be transported from South Africa, the USA, Australia or Asia. That’s very bad for the environment and given recent events and the current price of fuel is only going to get more complicated.
2 – Most good polyurethane blanks are manufactured using a chemical called Toluene Diisocyanate or TDI for short. This chemical is by a huge amount the most harmful part of making a surfboard.
3 – Around 40% of a surfboard blank is milled and sanded off and ends up in landfill.
So, to sum up, the above blanks are terrible for the environment, made on the other side of the world and then we throw 40% of them away. As we have said though, nothing previously has come close to them for the functionality of a surfboard.
Why do we like Polyola and what makes them different to the rest?
Most importantly for us at Fatum, Polyola blanks are very close to the performance characteristics of our South African friends. We have made over 50 boards using Polyola blanks, surfed them ourselves, and given them to sponsored riders and regular Joes for feedback. It has been sensational and universal, everyone, including Gero our shaper, loves them.
All of Polyola, 100% of the process is made in Europe. For us and the environment that is a huge win. No more shipping carcinogen emitting objects halfway around the world.
Polyola don’t use TDI in their blanks, instead, they use a chemical called methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, or MDI for short. MDI produces around 3000 times less volatile compounds than TDI. That’s another massive win for the planet.
All the foam discarded during the shaping process can be recycled and used to make the next blank.
You can choose your skin plastics. That’s right, being a polyurethane blank in nature this means you can choose polyester or epoxy resin. Take your pick.
So what are the drawbacks?
– The first is that the blanks are naturally a dull yellowed colour, the kind of colour your board might be if it has been exposed to UV for a long time. Some people like the effect, it’s just worth knowing.
– The second is, yes you have guessed it, it’s more expensive. As is the way with items that are produced with a more eco-conscious approach, this blank is a little dearer. How much? At the time of writing this article, it would put around 100 euros on the price of a normal Fatum board.
And that’s it, folks. If you have been waiting for us to do the right thing environmentally it has taken a while, but good things are normally worth the wait.
Get in contact with Gero and discuss what he thinks about the suitability of Polyola for your next stick. We will have a test range of Polyola in our factory shop in Peniche and a percentage of our stock boards both online and in our physical shop will be made with Polyola.
Notes (TDI bad, MDI better) (made in europe, figs from book) (tested, they are the first one up to par) (Epoxy or PU possible)