This is how lugging boards abroad has played out since the beginning of surf travel: Figure out what kind of quiver to bring on your trip, stuff it into an oversized bag, haul it to the airport ... and have a panic attack. "How much will they charge me?" you wonder. "Will the boards arrive in one piece?" At the check-in counter, the agent slaps you with an arbitrary charge, starting your trip off on a decidedly bad foot. "Six hundred dollars for four boards? That's the price of my ticket!"
Tour veteran Adrian "Ace" Buchan wants to put an end to the madness. Six months ago, he and his friend Gideon Silverman had an idea, and they realized that with Buchan's industry connections and Silverman's technical chops (he was a product manager at Google at the time), they could change the way surfers travel.
"We're trying to do two things with Awayco," Buchan says of his surfy start-up. "Provide an option for board-less travel and give people the ability to try boards before they buy. I was just in New York without a board. The waves were fun, and I wanted to surf, but I couldn't access a good surfboard. That's the problem we're trying to solve."
Awayco partners with existing surf shops and manufacturers (like JS, Channel Islands, Firewire and Haydenshapes) to provide an inventory of boards in all shapes and sizes, catering to surfers of all levels. Awayco members can go to any partner shop, with a growing number of locations in surf hubs around the world, and pick up a quality board at any time. (Boards will also be searchable online and can be reserved in advance.) The price of membership is $60 per month, which lets you ride as many boards as you want and gives you damage protection in case you ding your borrowed craft.
Awayco's soft launch is focused on California, Australia and Bali. While there are plans to roll out worldwide soon, Buchan figures they'll certainly have some kinks to iron out before then.
"There are a lot of moving parts when trying to build a successful business, and there are days when it's overwhelming -- when I'm tired from walking the halls at home with my 3-month-old at 2 a.m., or from training and surfing to get ready for an event -- but it's been a really fun challenge," says Buchan. "The team we've assembled over the last six months is truly world class. And it's been exciting to see the interest we've generated from some big venture capitalists."
While his career on the World Tour is still in sharp focus at the moment, Buchan sees growing Awayco as a logical next step for when he eventually moves away from full-time competition.
"When I started thinking seriously about starting Awayco, I considered three things: Am I passionate about it? Am I helping people? Am I helping solve a problem? With Awayco, it all made sense, and hopefully it will be successful. I've been lucky enough to do something I'm passionate about for a long time, and I think you can see that in the way I've surfed on Tour for the last 10 years. Now I want to take that passion and drive into the next chapter of my life."
As you read this, Awayco is prepping to launch. Check their Instagram for updates on timing, here.