Over Sept 19 & 20 the Center for Surf Research hosted the “Sustainable Stoke Conference”. The conference was featured in the lead up on San Diego 6 News and titled to reflect the recent book of the same name produced by the Center for Surf Research and Plymouth University’s Surfing and Sustainability Research Group. The conference was a big success with more than a hundred in attendance during the first day which showcased three panel sessions and two keynote speakers.
The first panel (pictured below) included Dr Stephen Mayfield of UCSD who has used his algae research lab to produce carbon neutral surfboard blanks made from algae oil. Dr Andy Stern of the Lost Bird Project presented Smart Phins which will incorporate climate change data sensors into surfboard fins, turning surfers into citizen scientists. Finally Kevin Whilden of Sustainable Surf eco fins outlined the threats of climate change for surfers and his organizations responses, in particular the Ecoboard Program which has enjoyed pretty amazing growth and success in just a few short years.
The second panel included surf legend and SDSU alum Rusty Miller and Tricia Shantz introducing Eco Fins which are made from recycled ocean plastics, Marc Sanchez who upcycles old foam blanks into new, beautifully unique REECO surfboards, Derek Sabori VP Sustainability for Volcom, and SDSU alum and former CSR intern Carl Kish, co-founder of the world’s first sustainability certification STOKE Certified.
Panel 3 discussed issues with the creation of new surf breaks, both by enhancing natural environments, and by constructing surf parks. Justin Enjo of the First Peak Project discussed a fascinating plan to bring back the extinct Fist Peak at Sebastian Inlet, followed by John Luff of Surf Park Central who gave an overview of the surf park industry which appears set to explode in with four different technologies likely to have working full scale installations by summer 2016.
Keynote presentations opened and closed the conference from Dr Gregory Borne of Director of the Plymouth University Surfing and Sustainability Research Group, and Senator Fred Hemmings, 1968 World Surfing Champion and founder of the Pipe Masters and World Championship Tour of surfing.
The second day of the conference, which doubled as the inaugural conference of the International Association of Surfing Academics saw 13 presentations from researchers from 5 different countries that incorporated theoretical economics in the exploration of surfer’s behavior in lineups, a stakeholder analysis of surf tourism development in Indonesia’s Mentawai Islands, land purchases for conservation in Mexico, the social construction of surfing space in surf parks, an exploration of governance and power in surfing destinations, and an assessment of how sea level rise is likely to impact the quality of surf breaks of Southern California.