Chinese surfboards- Curse or Blessing.

During a recent visit to Hossegor I spotted this t-shirt at one of the board factories and it started some interesting conversations.

Chinese Shaper t-shirt

Rumour has it that a number of French surfboard shapers have gathered together and agreed not to touch or repair any boards made in China as a way of protecting their living. Who knows if this is true but it does sound typically French and I’m all for a bit of direct action, but is this the way to go and are Chinese boards destroying the cottage industry of board shaping or just making the sport accessible to more people?

Well, its a combination of the two. Its a fact of life that manufacture of surfboards in the far east is going to continue because of the reduced production overheads. All of the big brand epoxy, moulded and PU boards are coming out of Asia and the quality of the big brands is good- they are only supplying a demand. On the other hand there are board factories in China popping up (forgive the pun!) all over, producing poor quality products flooding the European market, forcing prices down and hitting local shapers hard.

The early days of guys shaping in the garage or shed were never going to last, but theres still a place for hand shaped boards designed and crafted by experts. But if these smaller manufacturers are going to compete they need to up production turnaround times and supply beginner style boards for the mass market ideally with an element of sustainable production and bio-degradable materials. Then more custom could return to locally produced boards.

What are your thoughts?

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2 Responses to Chinese surfboards- Curse or Blessing.

  1. Chris says:

    China is making it hard for many industries with their cheap good – many of which are poorly built rip-off’s of others expensively developed products. Educating the consumer about how to spot a cheap/rubbish board would limit the market for them (new surf info page?) but if they are producing quality products you have to beat them on price, quality or innovation.

  2. Mel says:

    Think of it like a suit. Before suits were mass produced they were made by hand by an expert artisan with quality materials. Most people when they buy a suit they get one at a big department store that was probably massed produced. Why because it’s cheap and fast. The number of tailors out there went away unable to keep up with the competition but the best ones were able to weather the storm. Now a custom hand tailored suit is a luxury since the tailors that survived had to raise their prices.

    Surf boards are the same. Let’s forget about the “soul” of surfing residing in the board for a minute. The best shapers will survive and become high commodoties since only the strongest will survive. Most will do something else but the result is that more people will be surfing. There are a few that would rather have less people in the water but I think that kind thinking leads to a ” My wave or my break or my ocean” attitude. No one “owns” a wave. Imagine a world where everyone surfs. Every time there’s a swell your boss would understand if you didn’t come to work.

    For those that say the market will be flooded with cheap low quality boards, that’s like saying there’s too many cheap low quality cars. Learn to tell the difference between a bad board and a good board.