A few years ago, the Ireland-based Skunkworks Surf Co set about creating a soft board that would disrupt the disposable surfboard market. And, through trial and error, they succeeded – with the result offering up one of the most innovative softies you'll ever lay feet on.
Trace your fingers over the average foamie. Even by feel, you can tell it is not going to win any awards for longevity, or that they're built with an eco-conscience. The boards out of Skunkworks though are the most environmentally friendly soft surfboard on the market, tough, hand-made and with an emphasis on using top quality local products.
And to continue the trend of making a more eco-friendly surf industry, brothers Ricky and Chris Martin are keen to go fully waste free by 2020 – they have called on people all over the world to join them on their journey through a Crowdcube campaign. (See HERE). You’ll have to move fast though as the've already raised £347,000 (at the time of publishing) within a few hours of going live.
You'll recall the name Skunkworks? Back in 2016, MSW spoke with the siblings about their plans, their ambition and just what it takes to break into the soft board market. Go HERE if you need a recap.
What you might not know, is their ground-breaking designs caught the attention of Richard Branson and Jaguar Landrover - who partnered with Skunkworks for their Waste To Wave Campaign – which saw them collab on a design made entirely from recycled foam – and then shredded under the feet of UK pro Lucy Campbell.
Speaking on their waste free targets and Crowdcube campaign, Ricky said: "Becoming waste free by 2020 is hugely important to us. It would have been easy for us to go to China and take advantage of cheap materials and cheap labour but we insisted we wanted to create a company which manufactures our surfboards on the North Coast of Northern Ireland.
"Our customers are surfers and surf schools across the world. Our boards are being used in Norway, Holland, France, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, the UK and Ireland. Our plans are so exciting for the future with new products in the pipeline, we are upgrading our e-commerce site which will be launched this summer and our new leash has been put through rigorous testing and we believe it is the strongest leash in the world.
"Our boards and leashes can currently be purchased by going HERE. There's so much interest globally in what we are doing so we want people to join us on our journey. This is a fantastic opportunity for our customers to become an even bigger part of our story."
The ambitious brothers came up with the idea in Ricky's garage when the pair were mending damaged foam boards for Alive Surf School. Ricky said: "This was the single biggest expense of the business so we knew there had to be a better way, because, if Alive Surf School had to deal with this problem, surf schools around the world were also dealing with this problem.
"After two years of research and development we developed a patent pending, heat bonding technology that completely eliminates the use of adhesives. The bonds on our boards are one of the strongest elements - not the weakest."
After pitching to Richard Branson, and coming second out of 900 businesses UK-wide, the brothers attracted £500,000 from early stage investors and moved into a 16,000 sqft factory in Coleraine. They hired a team of experts and are now manufacturing with built custom machinery.
Ashley Douglas, Sales and Marketing Manager, added: "Last year we shipped over 600 boards to surf schools through Europe and further afield. We aim to multiply that figure by six this year and build long term relationships with our customers who see our approach to customer service as a breath of fresh air for the industry. We are bringing manufacturing back to Europe where there is accountability, traceability and a high level of workmanship.”
To get involved in the Skunkworks journey by investing in eco friendly surfboards, which are revolutionising the surf industry, click HERE.