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