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Sustainable surfing: How one surfer is changing the game of surfboard shaping

Posted at 9:00 AM, Mar 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-06 12:07:22-05

The surfing community is part of the identity of the Central Coast. Chad Kaimanu Jackson is part of that community and grew up surfing the Central Coast waves. While surfing is still a huge part of his life, he’s changing the way surfboards are made, and he says it’s a much more sustainable process.

Jackson grew up in Cayucos and has been shaping surfboards since he was 12-years-old. He has combined his career as an archaeologist and his passion for surfing and what he got was hemp. Jackson uses hemp cloth instead of fiberglass when he builds his surfboards.

“To be a surfer, to be a be a representative for the ocean and the environment, there’s a responsibility that goes along with that,” Jackson said.

That responsibility is built right into the surfboards Jackson shapes and crafts. According to an article published by, hemp cloth is 100 percent biodegradable and non-toxic.

Everyday that plant was bending and flexing with the wind and with the rain and so that integrity is really built into your surfboard when you use those materials,” Jackson said.

Jackson describes hemp as sustainable, durable and strong. These are all characteristics he’s built into his company, Hemp Surfboards.

Aside from hemp, some of the other materials he uses include agave wood, redwood, flax cloth, and recycled foams.  Depending on the size and materials, Jackson’s boards range in price from $500-$2,000.

“You’re not losing the durability and you’re not losing the performance of your surfboard but it’s coming more and more sustainably based,” Jackson said.

Vissla, a brand that promotes forward thinking and sustainable living has caught wind of Jackson’s message. Jackson travels all over with the brand, most recently to Mexico, to promote his message of surfing sustainably.

More than a business, Jackson is changing the way surfboards can be made and keeping the conversation going about preserving the environment.

I’m able to more promote the entire industry and help to inspire others to build more sustainably-built surfboards,” Jackson said. “That’s where the real impacts are going to occur and that’s the goal, that’s what my goal has been for a while.”

For more information on his company, visit HempSurfBoards on Instagram, or head to