[Right] Matt Wilkinson. Photo: Glaser
[Right] Matt Wilkinson. Photo: Glaser

Corndogging: World Tour Pros scoff at high-performance eco board

Despite evidence that it’s lighter, stronger, more maneuverable and a great source of protein

Palo Alto, Calif.—Silicon Valley startup Söycraft recently announced what they are calling a "game-changing" set of sustainable, ultra-high performance materials for surfboard production made from plant-based proteins. So far, the materials have been embraced by leading board manufacturers such as Channel Islands, …Lost, Firewire, and more.

"The first time I held a blank, I couldn't believe how light and strong it was," says futurist surfboard designer Daniel "Tomo" Thomson. "They cost a third of the amount it takes to produce comparable boards with traditional polyurethane and they have far better performance characteristics in the water. The fact that they're also edible and that the broken boards can be used to combat world hunger? All I can say is it's an exciting time to be alive, mate."

According to Steve Joben, founder of Söycraft, the idea for the plant-based composite core used in Söyfoam came to him in the cafeteria at Google back when he was working as a coder for the company.

"I was fixated on the firm exterior and fluffy interior of a piece of tofu in my vegan, GMO-free stir fry and thought, 'With a little tweaking, this could be a surfboard,'" says Joben. "Surfboards have been made with plastics and toxic chemicals for too long, and this is exactly the kind of disruptive tech surfing needs. Plus everyone who jumps on these new sustainable materials raves about how much better they ride than traditional PU. Surfers really seem to be embracing it…well, most surfers anyway."

Despite the fact that Söycraft is being praised by elite board builders, hi-fi freesurfers like Albee Layer and Dane Reynolds, and regular workaday shredders as the new standard for sustainable, high-performance surfboards, there is one sect of surfers that isn't convinced: World Tour competitors remain skeptical of the new materials, refusing to ride them in competition or otherwise.

"Between you and me, those boards just don't look right," says one Top-10 competitor who asked to remain anonymous. "Maybe they're too white…or not white enough. I'm not really sure. But they don't look like PU, so I'm not gonna chance it."

World Tour surfers have historically been apprehensive toward new surfboard technologies, preferring to stick with tried-and-true materials and designs despite the potential upside. Joben hopes that the endorsements from world-class shapers and freesurfers, the sustainable nature of the materials, and the boards' philanthropic potential as a third-world food source will eventually win World Tour surfers over, but at the time of press, not one Top-34 competitor had tried Söycraft.

"Well, I haven't tried riding it," says the Top-10 surfer. "But I did take a little chunk off of a blank and dumped some teriyaki sauce on it…wasn't half bad."

[Editor's note: "Corndogging" is a satirical column in which we take serious surf issues, dunk 'em in the ocean, and roll them around in the sand for awhile.]