Timmy Patterson, Marcio “Sharp Eye” Zouvi, Christiaan Bradley, Jon Pyzel, and James “Chilli” Cheal – a venerable shaping supergroup. Like the Travelling Wilburys, but with planers instead of picks. But this isn’t a new X-Factor: it’s the panel assembled for the Unwanted Shapes COVID-19 Edition, a WSL-backed competition asking shapers from all over the world to create surfboards from COVID-19 waste. The winning boards will be ridden by CT stars at the MEO Portugal Pro in 2021.
Peter Mel is the ambassador for the project and the man who gathered the esteemed foam mowers. The Simon Cowell of the group, if you will. “Just one of the many side effects of the measures taken to stop the spread of the COVID pandemic was the consumption and disposal of hundreds of millions of single-use masks, gloves, and alcohol gel packs worldwide,” Mel told The Inertia. “As surfers have no doubt discovered, much of this waste has ended up in the oceans. This project aims to highlight that issue, and hopefully find some solutions.”
Shapers can go to Unwantedshapes.com to enter. For stage one, shapers simply have to explain their concept and how it might work with zero investment in prototypes or manufacturing required. The panel will assess the entries, choose the best, and the chosen shapers will be assisted in bringing their concept to life.
“I think the most interesting ideas often come from smaller, backyard-type shapers,” Pyzel said. “They’re less shackled by having to build something for the general public and free to build one-off designs that may or may not work well.”
On that front, some shapers are ahead of the eco-curve. Earth Tech, headed by Ryan Harris, has already created a surfboard made from recycled masks. “(It’s) called the Mask Mini Simmons, made from COVID waste for the Vissla Upcycled contest,” Harris told The Inertia. “My goal with entering the Unwanted Shapes contest is to prove we can get a more performance weight using our zero waste system and construction methods.”
For the last few years, Earth Tech has used an industrial shredder, affectionately known as “Shreddy Krueger” to upcycle material for its eco surfboards. Along with gloves and coffee cups, ET discovered masks could also be processed to make a board. It’s exactly the type of tech and thinking that the Unwanted Shapes project is encouraging.
“I’m hoping to see a range of tech that may come up with a feasible board the pros can ride,” said Christiaan Bradley, the French-based Tasmanian who shapes Leo Fioravanti’s boards. “Just last week a guy showed me some fin plugs he’d made using 3D printing. I’ve also contacted Entropy Resins in Barcelona, that uses bio-based resins for epoxy manufacturing. Hopefully, there’s someone out there way smarter than me who can blow our minds.”