The Future of Surfing: Part II

The Future of Surfing: Part II

Original article published 27 August, 2021

​​[5-10 minute read]


Welcome to the second instalment of our two-part series where we delve into the innovative, entrepreneurial minds of experts in the surfing world, and ask about the future of surfboard design and manufacturing.

Earlier this month, we chatted with Ryan Chickos, Founder of Lucid Rides (USA) and Thomas Cervetti, Co-Founder of Nomads Surfing (France) to hear their thoughts on modern surf tech, government interventions, and their ideal scenarios for the future of surfing.


Can you tell us a bit about your brand and products, and how you got started on this journey?

Ryan (Lucid Rides)

A little over a decade ago when I met my wife Chelsea, she had just moved from a four-year stay in Costa Rica. She lived and breathed surfing. One day she was showing me a surfboard online and I made a promise to her that I would make something better. It took about a year and hadn’t put one thought into it, and then out of the blue the lightbulb came smashing down on me! From that moment on, my life changed in many ways. The endless nights, financial struggles, I even quit my job to pursue more time to dedicate towards Lucid! It's been a wild ride along the 7 years and I'm glad I did every bit of it.

I have always been a creator and a developer. I have always had dreams of making something new that no-one has seen before. I have done it many times since I was a little boy but none were feasible. When the Lucid Core came to be, I went into a non-stop R&D phase ever since 2014. Almost every penny we had went into it. I had to make sure it was perfect, I didn’t want to hear any negativity. None of this would have happened without Chelsea. She has been there through every blinking moment and was the inspiration for it all.

Lucid is a brand that is about being something different. It's about not listening to the crowds and instead doing what you feel is the best for you. Lucid is about never giving up. What we made is a board that is 100% composites and air. There is no foam or wood. Its tough, you can punch it with no pressure dings, run it over with your full sized truck with only little puncture marks from the sharp rocks in the road. You can put it in 150 degree heat all day. If for some reason it does fill with water, you can drain the water out and do a quick fix on the area and that’s it, no water logging or de-lamination worries. The sun shines through it too which is super cool when it glows. You can always see who is on a Lucid board!

Lucid’s technology was developed for surfboards and then we quickly realized the strength of the material. We will be making every board type that touches water, to every style of skateboard. We will be launching our first few skateboards in the next month or sooner.  I have developed another composite that is 65% the weight of 7075 aluminium and far surpasses its strength. This will be incorporated into a lot of new products. Hydrofoils, skateboard trucks, electric this and that, my list is tall and have the vision and drive to make it all.

Thomas (Nomads Surfing)

Nomads Surfing is a young company created in 2018 and based in Bordeaux, France. We are three friends behind the brand, Nicolas, Basile and I (Thomas) bounded through surfing. In our previous work life, we were all based in South East Asia, between the Philippines and Malaysia. Surfing the most pristine waves had been a privilege for a couple of years over that period. However, at the same time we were also shocked by the plastic waste all around us, on land and in the ocean.

That’s what made us create Nomads Surfing, to do our bit and protect the Ocean. Our goal was simple and clear: to protect the ocean through our passion (surfing). In that process, always being transparent, produce as clean as we can, always search for innovation and durability. And be committed with our partnered NGOs. (You got our four pillars there).

Nowadays, we produce in Portugal and France, EPS foam boards [expanded polystyrene foam] with bio-based resin and natural fibres for the European market only. By the end of 2021, we will launch our first 100% fully recycled EPS foam blanks, as well as 100% bio-based blanks.

At the end of 2020, we produced the first fins made in France from recycled fishing nets. And the first traction and front pads made in France from recycled cork. A leash will be produced by the end of 2021 following the same ideas (Made in France / recycled materials). We also use old tarps in Bordeaux that we make into board-bags, backpacks, pouches etc.

5% of all our sales help to fund various organizations in France, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.


In your opinion, what part does modern technology play in reducing the environmental impact of surfing?

Ryan (Lucid Rides)

Modern technology, at this moment is all about taking at least one material and turning it into another. We strive to make it sustainable but it all has to come from somewhere, that place is the earth. Whether it be petroleum based, plant based, recycled or any other, there is a process for manufacturing it and a by-product that comes from it.  As we progress, as does our population on Planet Earth does too. The demand for more is greater. The only technology that works is use less, but that’s a very hard technology to find!

Thomas (Nomads Surfing)

Modern technologies play a tremendous role on reducing environmental impact. And this is true in all industries, the more advanced we become the lower (usually) we get in terms of impact. Let’s take cars for example, from those built in the early 20th century versus the modern ones, we can barely say we are talking about the same product.

Today we see a lot of industrial innovation that can be used for the surf industry. For example, the progress we see in epoxy resins being sourced from biomass. We also have natural fibres that are more and more technical with their properties. Same goes for the foam blanks: PU and EPS can see various alternatives out there. It’s not really developed yet, but there is great potential to reduce the environmental impact of the industry.

With Nomads Surfing, we are not in this field (yet), but modern technologies have already brought a lot of innovations in wetsuits and more will come.


We're seeing various governments around the world take action on plastics and other chemicals, do you think traditional surfboard materials could be phased out anytime soon?

Ryan (Lucid Rides)

Worldwide? Unless it's a carcinogen such as chromium, NO! Traditional materials will be around and available for a long time to the public, at least in the USA. I know that there has been some restrictions on materials in California, but that was due to a health and safety issue as is everything there is cancerous! Traditional materials are widely used amongst other industries that drive the economy, everything from maritime to aviation. Even though composites have only been around for 60'ish years, it will be us that phases them out, as we push the limits of composites and introduce new products to the world.

Thomas (Nomads Surfing)

In France, we will see a new tax in 2022, collected by the government to ensure the end of life of all sport equipment - surfboards included. We think it’s a great thing, and that this will push for more innovation in the material and construction of surfboards. We think the classic PU blank and polyester resin should be phased out when we see that alternatives are already efficient and available today.

Governments should definitely ask for additional tax for the production of virgin, oil-based materials such as resin and foam blanks, while helping the production of bio-based alternatives. They must also encourage a form of circular economy, where the equipment's end of life is planned through a recycling process.


What is your ideal scenario for the future of surfing, from a design and manufacturing perspective?

Ryan (Lucid Rides)

Some people look at surfboard manufacturing as an art, some look at it as a way to capitalize. The art side wants to put every ounce of passion into the design of the board and show skill and craftsmanship. The other side wants to pump out as many surfboards as possible. When you pull yourself back, there is no right or wrong way. Surfing use to be about going out and realizing that we, as humans, can go enjoy the power of the ocean. It has now turned into a cut-throat, this is my wave and too concerned with image to enjoy yourself.

My ideal scenario for surfing, from a design and manufacturing standpoint, I feel like I’m doing half of it already; make a board whether it be surf or skate - and have no waste. I don’t get to show piles of waste to show how busy I have been. As of my current manufacturing method right now, 99.9% of all material that comes through the door is put into the product, and all waste can be recycled for products in other industries. The other half of my ideal scenario is to know that every board made will go to someone that wants to make that pure connection to the power of the ocean, or the feeling of the road as you glide across it!

Thomas (Nomads Surfing)

The past few years have seen a lot of new water sports emerging massively like foil, wing or electric boards either SUP, surf or wind. In terms of design, we wish that electric surfboards do not really take off because it does not, according to us, reveal what surfing has to offer.

In France, we are seeing more and more shapers specialize in wooden hollow surfboards. This is excellent in terms of sustainability, FSC Certified wood will always remain better than foam, resin and fibreglass; as long as the wood does not come from the other side of the Planet! So this is something we would like to see growing.

In terms of manufacturing, the ideal scenario for us would be to have a clean and competitive industry located where the waves are. Meaning that surf factories should not be in China or Thailand when boards are made for the Australian, American or the European market. Same goes for all of the wetsuits made in Vietnam, and actually, this comment obviously applies to all kind of industries. The ideal scenario is to avoid our products traveling thousands of kilometres (on average) before being delivered to us.

For materials and processes: 100% fully recycled or bio-based blanks + bio-based epoxy resins + natural or recycled fibres should be a priority. Vacuum lamination as well. PU blanks should become the exception rather than the norm as it is today.


Final thoughts on any cool innovations in the world of surfing and/or sustainability that gets you excited?

Ryan (Lucid Rides)

Lucid and my other hollow board manufacturer competition, Wyvesurf! I know materials fairly well, I see a few things with their material limitations. Mostly weight, some strength, but it is still a very viable product that uses less. Less is the ultimate technology for the environment! I have chosen to launch Lucid with skateboards with intentions of quickly getting back into the surf arena. I am excited to see how two people from two garages can help make a little improvement on the big blue ball!

Thomas (Nomads Surfing)

We dream of a surfboard with a zero-carbon footprint impact, at least in terms of materials. That goes with 100% recycled or bio-based blanks; those foams should be largely available soon and that should change the game! 100% bio-based resins and natural/recycled fibres would also be part of this dream board.

We could even imagine more than that, with materials having a net positive impact on the environment. Nowadays, weeds and fungus are grown to capture greenhouse gas from the atmosphere; what if we could make performing foams from those weeds and fungus, as this has been tried in the past!

We also dream of a much more circular surf industry where you know exactly what to do with your old wetsuits or broken surfboards. Nowadays, we usually have bins in malls for bulb lights, batteries, little electronic devices… we should have the same for our wax waste, pieces of boards, broken leash, etc… in all our surf shops. Wouldn’t that be cool?!?


Gentlemen, thank you for your time.

Check out the links below to learn more about Nomads Surfing and Lucid Rides...

Nomads Surfing on Instagram

Lucid Rides on Instagram

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