Researchers Redefine Sustainability at Sustainable Stoke Conference

Researchers Redefine Sustainability at Sustainable Stoke Conference

The Sustainable Stoke Conference brought together researchers specializing in surf tourism and issues of sustainability in the surf industry with a shared goal of building a sustainable future for generations to come.

By Noah Rappahahn


SAN DIEGO – Hosted by the Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University, The Sustainable Stoke conference was the first ever conference of its kind to bring academic researchers in to explore the cutting edge of the surfing world’s transition to sustainability.

Building on this global conversation started by the book Sustainable Stoke, Transitions to Sustainability in the Surfing World, the conference also featured an array of industry leaders and influential figures who hoped to further define what sustainability looks like and how it can be achieved.

According to Dr. Jess Ponting, director of the Center for Surf Research the goal of the conference was to bring in some of the best minds in surfing to talk about advancements in different areas of the surfing industry to ensure that we are headed toward a sustainable future.

“The change is incremental, but as we pull it all together, you will start to see an entire change in our industry along with the lifestyle that goes with it. The book and the conference are the start to this conversation and will ensure we keep it moving in the right direction,” said Ponting.


It was evident at the conference that industry leading manufacturers and researchers alike are committed to achieving sustainability in the surfing world. Dr. Stephen Mayfield is leading research on developing surfboard blanks from the products of algae, creating a potentially carbon neutral surfboard blank.

“In the not so distant future we might see a surfboard blank that is carbon neutral, produced in a sustainable way, that is sealed with a recyclable resin that can be turned into a thermo-plastic, allowing the fiberglass itself to be removed and reused,” said Mayfield.

The emergence and growing popularity of manmade surf parks also generated major buzz at the conference. Ideas surrounding the sustainable benefits of controlled wave parks were endless, and the future looks bright for the surf park industry. A recent approval for surfing in the 2020 Olympics hinges greatly on the ability to provide a controlled environment for competitors, and surf parks are the answer.

Look for the surf park conversation to continue at the second ever Surf Park Summit in Orlando, Florida Sept. 7, 2016. The event will be hosted by Surf Park Central, an international hub for all information pertaining to surf park development, along with the Center for Surf Research.

The Sustainable Stoke conference showed the surf community’s commitment toward bringing beneficial change, often times to under-developed corners of the world frequented only by surfers. The surf industry is redefining sustainability from several angles and a major shift is underway that may potentially set new sustainability standards worldwide.



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