The biosphere concept of people interacting in harmony with nature was on dress circle display at the Noosa Festival of Surfing this week, with ‘green’ timber surfboards the focus of a special master class.
Noosa Biosphere Limited (NBL) welcomed the opportunity to sponsor the sustainable surfing exhibition and demonstration, featuring the Alaia boards crafted by local master surfboard shaper Tom Wegener.
“The fascinating story of Tom’s discovery of the original surfboards, and his experimentation with the perfect properties of Paulownia timber, grown on renewable timber plantations in Queensland, has been one that we have been sharing with a number of visiting international student groups to underline that sustainability can take on many different forms in everyday life,” says NBL Chair, Dr Sue Davis.
The Paulownia timber is light and has the special quality of not soaking up salt water, unlike fresh water.
Although Tom’s work has earned him a place among the world’s most influential surfboard shapers – winning an international Shaper of the Year award in 2009 and Australian Design Award 2010 – he feels his biggest achievement has been creating the green surfboard factory. Typically, surfboard factories have toxic chemicals and create an enormous amount of waste. Tom’s factory has no toxic materials and creates almost no waste.
“The wood chips and sawdust are mulched into Tom’s garden and orchard. Apart from helping the environment, it is a really nice place to visit and, I dare say, to work,” says Sue.
The sustainable surfing challenge saw locals and internationals riding the waves on a range of timber boards – not only Tom’s Alaia’s – and spreading the word about this new re-working of an old classic.
Noosa Biosphere Limited is also hosting a free water dispensing station for the duration of the Festival. The station has been designed to deliver a message about reducing plastic in the biosphere and Myrtle the Turtle is again appearing to help the cause.
To find out more about Tom’s story visit www.tomwegenersurfboards.com .
To find out more about Noosa Biosphere Limited visit www.noosabiosphere.org.au .