For those of you who know me, the mere mention of an Epoxy board is enough to get me rolling my eyes in disgust, and usually followed by some diatribe about them being kook machines, who’s ever won a world title on one?*, they’re a bitch to fix etc etc. I’ve ridden epoxy boards. Twice in fact, and they’ve hit me in the face on both occasions. And I’ve done one good turn on them, so that’s that to be honest.
And my thoughts on the whole Eco thing? I don’t go clubbing seals and burning tyres to guide me back to the beach. I recycle. I just find that when you scratch the majority of the “Eco” claims out there, just beneath the surface it’s bullshit rolled in seaweed. I know that every little bit helps, and if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem but I’ve worked for many major surf companies sprouting recycled board shorts and what not, only to find them sent in plastic which is more often than not, just chucked in the bin due to the cost associated with recycling it… I just find it really hard to get behind the environmental measures that the majority of companies put down. But surfing is somewhat of an oxymoron. Its whole shtick is the call of nature. The allure being out in the ocean, chilling out on the simplicity of it all ... Just you, the waves, and your surfboard… Something so simple, yet made from petrochemicals so toxic it will basically melt your face off. I’ve heard some horror stories of what has happened to surfboard glassers bodies just from working with the stuff.
So once my eyes returned to facing the correct direction, I got on the Google machine and looked up this Notox. Turns out they’re a French company from the Basque region specialising in Flax and Cork surfboards. Interesting… But what makes them Eco you ask? Their surfboards are manufactured, on average with around 75% recycled materials, pair that with a bio-sourced epoxy resin and you’ve got an eco-board. All the materials are acquired within a 700km radius of their factory in France resulting in a surfboard that adds around 1kg of waste to the environment. For comparison, your average board, most like banged out in, or with materials from Thailand or China, produces around 6kgs of waste and usually contains 0% recycled materials.
When I met Lou, the local rep for Notox, I was interested to actually see what this “Green One” would look like. The rounded pin was a good start with a nice earthy tone to the glass job due to the natural flax cloth. With their boards ranging from long boards, to your small wave board like the GreenOne, at 5’6” it was one of their shorter models, and perhaps a little short for me as my glory days of riding 5’ somethings are all but behind me. I’m a highline to floater guy nowadays. It was once I got it under my arm that I was almost over the line... The GreenOne felt well balanced and didn’t have that epoxy super lightness that I dislike so much. It had a nice weight to it, a lot lighter than a PU, but not so light where it’s going to freak out on a bit of chop or blow back and hit you in the face. Single to double concave through the bottom… Another purist staple. No eye rolls just yet… Things seemed to be looking up for team Bio-Epoxy!
So on the day of the test, I got stitched up on the whole QLD/NSW daylight saving time thing, and happened to be an hour early to test the board, which left me perching on the break wall like a shag on a rock, watching glorious 4 footers wind their way to the beach. Only 3 people out, bogging their rails to the beach, which had me pondering why I didn’t put a “proper” board in the car ... So in true surfing form, once I finally got the leggy on, the tide turned and the surf went to shit. Myself, being around 70% washed up and carrying a few extra kgs, thought the Green One would be a little hard to paddle in onshore-ish, full waves, but it was surprisingly buoyant with the foam distributed nicely under the chest and wider point forward helping to paddle into waves I should’ve missed. It’s your quintessential small wave board really. Gets you in nice and early, the pulled in tail isn’t so wide where you are digging your toes into the board through your bottom arc, but allows the GreenOne to hold its speed through the bottom turn and drive off into your top turn. It’s loose off the top, and absolutely flies down the line. What more could you want to be honest? With a 3mm stringer through the entirely recycled eps core, it had a minimal torsion through the turns, which allowed you to drive the turns just that little bit more for a board its size. This I’m assuming is the result of NOTOX coupling their quadraxial flax fabric and GreenPoxy 56 resin, with a vacuum lamination process, the same technology that goes into motorcycle helmets, boat building and other high impact sports, and produces a board which is not only light, but one of the strongest that I’ve had the pleasure of trying not to ding up too much. Vacuum bagging isn’t exactly a new thing in surfboard manufacturing, but what sets NOTOX aside is the technology that they utilise to do it. Now, I’m not privy to the innermost workings of their vacuum lamination process, it’s kind of like the recipe for Coca-Cola, but what I can tell you is that one employee at NOTOX has the capacity to vacuum bag a number of boards at one time, cutting down on consumables, and speeding up the manufacturing process. Other surfboard manufacturers using similar technology are only able to produce one board at a time. All of this equals a quicker turnaround for the punter waiting on his fresh stick.
Wanting not to be proven wrong about the whole epoxy thing, (maybe that good surf was a one off?) I managed to talk Lou into letting me keep it for a few more days. Finding a new lease on my surfing, I got real frothy and decided pulled into a few dredgers at pretty much closing out low tide 3-4ft Tallows. Now I’m not saying that I was ripping, but I pulled into a few screamers out there, and launched the first punts I’ve done in about 7 years into the northerly. Much to my ankles disgust, I even landed on the flats with a distinct thought as the board flexed under my feet… “That’s definitely not good for it…”
So just how strong is it? I stripped the wax off it when I got home to check the deck, and surprisingly it was pretty much fine... I’m heel heavy when I surf, and cave in decks regularly, so there should’ve been a few big ol’ onion rings in there, but apart from some minor pressure dings, which is to be expected, it was unscathed. Oh, and I slammed the boot on the tail. That one didn’t even make a scratch. (Sorry Lou.)
So what’s my final verdict on the Green One? Has it turned me to team Epoxy? I’d say I’m less inclined to rant about the negatives of epoxies and able to add a few positives. And maybe if I didn’t have a 3 personal boards in various stages of production I’d chuck in a custom order … The board is stupidly well made, and gave me the confidence boost that I can actually still paddle, and surf 5’ somethings... The boys at NOTOX are providing boards that should match every surfers core values. A reasonably priced, eco-responsible surf craft. All this within an industry not known for their eco-ways... No seaweed. No bullshit. Just solid boards that are better for the Earth. I say get around them.
* I have not researched this claim, and I realise it’s a gross assumption on my behalf so feel free to correct me. I also feel as though a certain major epoxy surfboard company cost Taj a world title while he was riding for them a few years back. Just saying.