Firewire Surfboards and Rob Machado introduce Woolight
Woolight – a method of building surfboards with sustainably sheared wool from sheep shepherded on Pamu Certified farms in New Zealand. Each Woolight Seaside has a bespoke look, resulting from the naturally occurring fibers used to build it.
Every surfboard we make is built under Sustainable Surf’s ECOBOARD standard and Woolight is an extension of that – an effort to recognize that in some cases nature may have already perfected what man has created.
Woolight uses half the fiberglass of a normal Helium build by substituting two sheets of fiberglass (one on the deck and one on the bottom) with two sheets of wool, thanks to a proprietary process invented by New Zealand surfboard builder and craftsman Paul Barron.
From Paul: “I was laminating a board at my factory in Tauranga, New Zealand one day, and I spilled some resin on a wool jersey I was wearing, and that’s when it hit me – I could make a surfboard using natural fibers sourced in New Zealand. And not only is the wool a New Zealand made product, it works just as good, if not better than fiberglass.”
Woolight is more than cosmetics.
It looks colorful, yes, but the color is only dye added to wool within a build process that brings structural integrity to each Woolight board the same way that Paulownia wood brings strength and form to each Timbertek shape.
Before we began R and D with Rob Machado and others, this sounded impossible to us because of wool’s reputation for sweaters and suits and blankets and other soft-goods.
But we were quickly educated on ‘Strong Wool’ a method of milling and applying wool’s naturally occurring tensile strength towards solid goods like furniture or boats for example, something Paul has been on the cutting edge of for the past three years using wool supplied by NZ Merino.
When we finalized Woolight’s build (a sandwich constructed 1 lb EPS core wrapped in fiberglass, 3MM EPP deckskin and wool fabric, finished with an epoxy resin hot coat) we were excited to find how similarly it surfed to our normal Helium build.
We found it incredible to have a naturally occurring fiber from such a wave rich island country performing to the same standards as a synthetic one that had long been the industry standard.
With Woolight’s Helium performance characteristics in mind we spent the last year testing many of Rob’s personal shapes and stock models in Woolight and decided to release Woolight first in Rob’s popular Seaside model before any other shape.
Why? Because the Seaside has been proven in waves around the world by surfers of all skill levels, and among Firewire employees and team riders, it’s a new favorite in Woolight.
HEY ROB, WHAT IS THE SEASIDE..?
Just evolving the Go Fish to something new, really. The Go Fish goes fast and feels skatey and loose and I love it, and riding it for a couple years made me want to feel more high performance – more carves, tighter turns. So the Seaside is about refining… less area in the tail, narrowing the tips of the swallow, creating more curve and narrowing the nose. All elements for ripping while the Go Fish stays cruisey and fun.
The Seaside is quad only, why?
I decided that if i was going to make a quad I would make a quad that’s strictly a quad … Design the concaves and bottom contours around that. I actually redesigned my entire concave setup that I’ve been using on the Moonbeam and Go Fish, and did it with the quad setup in mind so that it all works together.
Why name this shape after your home break, Seaside?
Naming surfboards might be the hardest thing to do on the planet [laughing]. It’s just the perfect little stick when I surf my home spot, Seaside.