By Dan Dobbin.
All 📷 by Jean Pierre.
As ocean users we are especially attuned to the rhythms and changes that occur in the natural environment. Changing weather patterns and rising sea levels associated with climate change will have untold impacts on the wave playing fields we all look to for enjoyment and spiritual reflection.
It’s the great dichotomy at the heart of the bodyboard manufacturing industry that a craft that puts us in such close connection with the ocean environment is also detrimental to its health because of the petroleum base and non-recyclability of its core components.
If only there was an alternative construction method….
Ok, let’s start with introductions who is the brains and brawn behind Cork boards and what’s your story in bodyboarding and in life?
My name is Ricardo Paes from Rio de Janeiro/Brazil and I started bodyboarding 32 years ago when I was 13 years old. I competed for some year in the 90’s as an amateur and I had a short career as a professional due to life circumstances. I also lived in Hawaii for 11 year and today I have lived in New Zealand for almost 6 years now.
How did the journey towards creating more sustainable and environmental mindes surf craft begin and evolve?
I’m a Joiner by trade and back in Hawaii I used to build wooden surfboards and I always wanted to make bodyboards. In 2010 I got some scrap pieces of Balsa wood from a shaper and made my first prototype with some EVA foam on top and I was very surprise that I actually could bodyboard on a piece of wood but never really took the project very seriously.
About 6 years later I got back to my old project and realized that I could replace the EVA foam with CORK and that made a lot more sense but I wasn’t very happy with the lack of buoyance and flex. Two or three years ago I was working in a bench top factory when I notice all of the nice pieces of Styrofoam been dumped every day from packages of sink bowls. I realized that this could be the third element to create a perfect sustainable bodyboard, lighter, more flexible and with a good buoyance.
Have you had any mentors or guidance from others or has it been a case of figuring things out through trial and error?
Alister Taylor use to work with me and he taught me a little bit about bodyboard construction and I used to watch the tutorial videos from Todd Quigley over and over again.
What have been the main barriers you’ve overcome along the way?
Finding the right timber was hard in Hawaii and Brazil but here in NZ access to locally grown Paulownia timber it’s way easier but maybe the biggest challenge was to create a good flex, I went through a lot of prototypes to find the perfect construction method.
What success’s are you most proud of?
Only recently CORK bodyboards has stopped being a side hustle for me to become a full-time job and with my wife helping me alongside with the administration it’s a very pleasing achievement.
How do you rate the performance of Cork boards stacked up against traditional foam bodyboards?
The flex is similar to a PP core and the board can actually be faster in clean conditions.
Give us your sales pitch, why should bodyboarders invest in a Cork board?
CORK bodyboards aren’t just a good-looking board, they are also built for high performance. The fact that you are investing your money on an eco-friendly bodyboard shows that you are a player and not just a spectator when comes to sustainability and love for the environment.
What do you hope to see in the future for your company and for the broader bodyboarding manufacturing industry as a whole?
To mass produce CORK bodyboards without losing its quality and for the industry I hope to see more creativity to be more in tune with the ocean environment that we love so much.
Any shout outs or thanks you would like to include feel free here!
Thanks, Infoamed for the opportunity, clients and followers for the support.Aloha!
Infoamed has banged down the cash for one of these unique sleds and will be bringing you a full review soon!