Surfing is a sport and a lifestyle. Surfing is also a multi-million dollar industry heavily reliant on toxic petro-chemicals to manufacture everything from surfboards, surfwax and wetsuits to lifestyle clothing. You could easily spend a thousand dollars or more for a new surfboard, several hundred for a wetsuit and close to a hundred for a cool label pair of shorts. Fortunately there are also ways to surf for free!
Everything you need to make your own surfboard and accessories can be found for free. No need to use anything made from toxic petro-chemicals or exploited labour. Look how much fun these kids are having for free… and these kids.
In ancient Hawaii there were two types of surfboards ridden standing – the long olo which could only be ridden by royalty and the shorter alaia which could be ridden by anybody. There has been a huge resurgence of interest in the alaia since surfboard shaper Tom Wengener saw some in the Bishop Museum and decided to start building them. They are now ridden by many surfers. The alaia is a finless slab of wood 6 to 7 feet in length rounded at the front and square tail. Very easy to make. The preferred wood is paulownia but these boards can be made from any lightweight wooden plank or from plywood. They all work!
- Video showing Alaia building, riding and sliding
- Lots of info here on the Tom Wegener Surfboards site
- New Guinea native surfers carving a board out of the jungle
While foam bodyboards have only been around for 40 years since Tom Morey developed the Morey Boogieboard the art of bodyboarding is an ancient one. Not only the Hawaiians but many indigenous coastal peoples throughout the world prone-rode short surfboards carved out of wood. The Hawaiians called them paipo.
Build your own paipo for free from recycled plywood.
Plywood bodyboards have neutral or slightly negative buoyancy which makes it easier to get out through the waves than with a conventional foam bodyboard which gets pushed backwards everytime a wave hits you. Once you catch a wave a plywood board is much faster than a foam board. Easy to make from a piece of reclaimed plywood – all that’s needed is a jigsaw or bandsaw, some raw linseed oil to seal it or some paint.
If you don’t want to go the work of shaping it just grab an old piece of plywood like this kid and surf naked.
- Free bellyboard building and painting workshop at the 2008 Breaking The Waves festival at the beach near Bergen aan Zee, Holland
- Surfing on a plywood paipo
Body surfing, the most free form of surfing of all – just you and the wave! If you want to increase your performance in bigger waves by using a hand-planing board just make one from a piece of recycled wood.
- French hand boards from recycled wood furniture
- Hand board made from THULE display shelf
- Body surfing with a handplane
A typical surfboard wax consists of about 70% Paraffin Wax plus Petroleum Jelly and Microcrystalline Wax - all derivatives of crude oil. Other ingredients are a mix of resins, glues and synthetic rubbers plus some synthetic dyes and chemical scents. All of this is usually wrapped in plastic – another petroleum product.
Make your own environmentally friendly organic surf wax from the following ingredients:
- Coconut Oil
- Tree Resin (cool water wax only)
- Super Sticky Warm Water Surf Wax: Only two ingredients, Beeswax and Coconut oil. That's all! With this recipe you don't have to worry about the scent as it will smell really nice already. All you do is mix 2250g of beeswax with 750ml of coconut oil. First melt the wax, then warm the oil and stir into the wax. Stir well, and keep stirring, stirring, stirring. Pour into paper cups and let it set.
- Super Sticky Cool Water Surf Wax: The mixture is 3 parts Beeswax, 1 part coconut oil and 1 part tree resin. Make it the same way adding the beeswax, coconut oil and tree resin together and stirring well. Tree resin can be bought in the form of granulated incense (as used by the Catholic Church) but can work out to be quite expensive so its best taken at the source - i.e. straight from the tree.