Will the WSL Introduce Surfboard Regulations on CT Surfers?

Photo: Sherman
Slater is presumably three steps ahead of the game in terms of surfboard sustainability. Photo: Sherm

Australian surf journalist Nick Carroll recently published an intriguing bit of hearsay about the WSL.

His thesis reads: Pro surfing's owner and governing body may soon begin to regulate the equipment ridden by its elite competitors. In other words: tell 'em what sort of boards they can ride.

Mr. Carroll goes on to explain how during the CT event at Lower Trestles, the WSL conducted a secret meeting between surfboard manufacturers and environmental consultants. The meeting was supposedly created by the WSL to introduce the idea of implementing regulations on CT surfboards. Not so much in the realm of size and shape, rather in their construction. This would allow the WSL to enforce rules that forced the Top 34 to ride boards that fit a certain eco-friendly criteria.

To read the entire article, go here.

But Carroll's gossipy summation left certain unanswered questions. It also gave no voice to the WSL, whose very plan he was referring to. So in an effort to sort through the speculations, I got on the phone with Dave Prodan, the WSL's VP of Communications, and asked him a few basic questions.

The WSL power couple. Step down Jack and Alana.
Will they only allow one board per heat?! Photo: Jimmicane

Interview by Michael Ciaramella

Surfing: Dave, I recently came across Nick Carroll's piece on the WSL implementing environmental regulations on surfboards ridden by CT surfers. Is it true?

Dave Prodan: I feel as though the ideas laid out by Mr. Carroll are slightly skewed. While the WSL did hold a meeting with a purpose of discussing surfboard sustainability and creating less environmental damage in the surfboard construction process, it was actually one of the stakeholders in the board-building industry who introduced the idea of using the CT as a springboard for pushing eco boards onto the general public.

So the WSL doesn't exactly have a plan for regulating surfboards?

It's really premature to consider a notion that any regulations are going to be even determined, let alone instituted, in the near future. So far we've only had preliminary discussions with very small groups of people. To implement something like that, we'd need to get everyone – surfers, surfboard makers, surfboard material manufacturers – on board with the idea.

I wonder if Matt Biolos was invited to the meeting. Surely he’d have brought a strong opinion one way or the other. Photo: Taras.

How far would you guys actually push it? It seems as though surfboards have always been bad for the environment, dating back to the time when men would chop down trees to shape a board.

The WSL has always maintained that they wouldn't do anything to compromise the performance of the athletes. It's more about finding ways to improve the board-building process in any way possible, as we know that there's no 'perfect' solution.

One question from the Carroll article was, "What does 'sustainable' even mean?" Can you give us some idea into the WSL's environmental ideals?

One of the main goals of that meeting was to introduce the WSL executives to the challenges of the board-building industry and what current disparate definitions of sustainable boards or eco boards are out there. From what we've learned, there's no consensus decision as to what constitutes an eco-friendly board at this point in time.

How do the CT surfers feel about this as a potential idea? Were any of them at the meeting?

The surfers' reps were invited to the meeting, but I don't think any of them attended because they were preparing to surf in the Lowers event. They're certainly aware that these discussions are being held, but I haven't heard any direct opinions expressed by the surfers yet.

Every wave is an air wave to Gabriel Medina. Even Cloudbreak.
As long as the surfers can keep doing stuff like this, we’re cool with some eco regulations. Photo: Jimmicane