For the first time ever in Europe, a group of environmentally-minded surfers got together and held the Wooden Surfboard Meet. Held at Playa de Berria in Santoña, North of Spain, the objective was to raise awareness of the eco-conscious work of art that is the wooden surfboard. Sergi, the event’s organizer and a shaper of wooden boards for about seven years now, says it all started when he was invited to the “Wooden Day” in Australia. That simple invitation gave him the idea and a wish to organize something similar for Europeans.
Nothing comes close to the emotions of an event that brings artists together from all over the world, and that’s what’s so special about this one. Even though many of the attendees know each other and communicate online, this is the first opportunity for many to meet in person and appreciate each other’s work face to face. It’s an experience that’s extremely valuable to a community of people who fight for a more eco-conscious and sustainable surfboard industry.
When the event started, attendees were able to try out every single surfboard on display. Although weather conditions weren’t the best, there were plenty of people taking advantage of the opportunity.
When asked about the possibility of running the Wooden Surfboard Meet again, Sergi says he hadn’t thought about it until he started receiving emails from all over Europe, asking for a second chance to be a part of the event. “Why not?” he asks. “It was easy. You just need to call each other and meet somewhere to spend some quality time together.”
Representing Portugal at the event were José Antunes and Vasco Silva, founders of the brands Yoni and Bzalo, respectively. José Antunes has been making wooden surfboards for eight years now and he came to Berria because he didn’t want to miss the opportunity. José says that with the constant growth of surf, it is necessary for us all to think of more ecological and sustainable alternatives that reduce the footprint we leave behind.
The community of wooden surfboard lovers still lives on the fringes of surf culture and specifically, Portuguese surfers have a tendency to resist change. In José’s experience, he gets skeptical reactions from people he shares his work with. They often think the boards are too heavy but once they see and touch the boards in person they realize they’re looking at a viable alternative to the status quo. José would like to organize this event in Portugal to share this exact idea and experience with as many people as possible; that a more sustainable surfing experience is possible. Even if boards aren’t made exclusively with wood, he says even mixes between wood and other materials would be better than today’s industry standards. After all, any step in the right direction is an important step to take. “It is important to be activists,” he says, “not just by saying it – but doing what’s in our reach to contribute to the protection and longevity of the planet.”