[NOMADE DES MERS] Low-tech surftrip (1/3) : a surfboard made of mushrooms

Carnet de bord

Date : October 22nd, 2020
Writer : Corentin de Chatelperron
Place : on board Nomade des Mers - Huatulco, Mexique

After months of slowdown, the region of southern Mexico in which we are located is beginning to open up. We can again travel by bus to meet local actors.
We took advantage of this period to perfect our low-tech lifestyle and redesign the sailboat. It is now ready to continue the adventure, and it promises to be exciting!

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© Pierre Frechou / Picture Organic Clothing

The surfer-adventurer Damien Castera joined us as well as our dear teammate Guénolé Conrad. Our program: to organize a low-tech surf trip!

Today I will tell you about the first step of this challenge: to build a low-tech surfboard.

Which surfboard would be the most eco-friendly? A board made of local wood? A laminated cardboard board? A board made of biocomposites? It is during a stopover in Puerto Escondido that the idea came to us. This surf spot known worldwide for its perfect waves coming straight from the Pacific Ocean is a real surfboard graveyard. Every day the powerful swell makes unfortunate surfers go through the washing machine and crush their bolides. Yet most of these boards are not repaired even though they are made of materials that are designed to last for hundreds of years: fiberglass, which requires a lot of energy to produce, and resin, which comes from oil. Once broken, the luckiest are then used for decoration, but most end up in landfills. So what could be greener than saving one of them from its tragic fate?

We met Och, a shaper, in a dark basement in Puerto Escondido. His workshop is full of boards abandoned by their owners. He brought us one of them, signed by Kelly Slater, one of the best surfers in the world. The poor one was broken in the middle, the foam shattered, the fiberglass torn. The ideal victim.

Caroline’s autopsy revealed that we could repair it with mushroom mycelium. A month ago Caroline found Yoan, a French mushroom enthusiast who lives in Mexico. He offered us a strain of Reishi, a medicinal mushroom whose mycelium (the underground part of the fungus) forms a strong and light foam. Caroline incubated it on board to form a plate which she then dehydrated in the sun. The result was superb: a kind of natural polystyrene. With Och the shaper, we cleaned the damaged parts of the surfboard and inserted the mushroom patch. Och then coated a layer of fiberglass to cover the restored part. A coat of paint, followed by the fabrication of a fin carved out of an old piece of plywood, recovery of 2 broken leashes to make a new one and Kelly Slater’s board came back to life, ready to face the waves of the Mexican coast!

We then tackled the next issue: the supplies for a low-tech surf trip! Prepare your low-tech cookbooks, delicious news are coming soon!

We take advantage of this departure to launch a big thank you to our partners thanks to whom we start this new phase full of energy, as well as to all the contributors of our crowdfunding!

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© Pierre Frechou / Picture Organic Clothing
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© Pierre Frechou / Picture Organic Clothing

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