Coconut, flax, plant-based — no, you aren’t reading the ingredients in a smoothie, but rather, a surfboard. In an industry that tends to use lots of chemicals and materials that are destructive to the environment, NSP is offering greener alternatives by incorporating coconut husks, flax fibers, and bio-based resins into its surfboards.
I’m an environmentalist. I’m also a surfer. But claiming to be both is a bit of a contradiction: surfing is terrible for the environment because of the construction methods and materials used to make surfboards.
In short: NSP is one of the few companies that may have a sustainable and still-durable solution to the problem. We tested a few different boards in its lineup, most recently, the Endless surfboard model made with the unique Cocomat materials, building on the brand’s earlier CocoFlax invention. Less fiberglass and far fewer chemicals, but a stronger board? We had to surf test to find out how these coconut and flax rides performed.
Note: NSP’s unique coconut and flax board construction has been on market for several seasons and counting. NSP’s CocoFlax boards won the 2019 Paddle Expo’s Product of the Year. We’ve also been testing since 2018. Here’s our verdict.
3 CocoFlax surfboards, 4 CocoFlax SUPs
- Endless surfboard length
- Endless surfboard weight
- DC Surf Wide SUP length
8’3″ to 8’10”
- DC Surf Wide SUP weight
No toxic chemicals, water-based dyes
High strength-to-weight ratio
Low carbon footprint
Limited choices of lengths and widths
Fins not included with all models
The Environmental Impact of Traditional Surfboards
Most surfboards start off as a blank, which is essentially a big chunk of foam that serves as the core of the surfboard and is shaped into the board. Typically, blanks are made from polyurethane foam (PU). PU blanks originate from petroleum-based chemicals, which are toxic to the environment; they also aren’t recyclable, renewable, or biodegradable. The extent of the toxins used in surfboard making is documented fairly widely across the industry — and these materials and chemicals either end up in landfills or waterways.
Additionally, the polyester resin that’s used to seal surfboards is toxic and has water-contaminating chemical properties. Not only is the production of surfboards harmful to the environment, but inhaling the dust and chemical toxins during the shaping process makes it dangerous for the shaper (i.e. workers) as well.
NSP CocoFlax Surfboards: Surf-Test the Alternative
In an effort to create more sustainable options for surfers and minimize its impact on the environment, NSP launched its patent-pending Cocomat collection of surfboards. To create the boards, NSP uses raw coconut husk fibers sourced from regenerative farms and an eco-friendly bio-resin to create a board with sustainable construction, and a pretty high strength-to-weight ratio. To minimize dust waste, NSP incorporates SecureCell EPS blanks into its manufacturing process. It also uses an eco-friendly, bio-based epoxy resin from Sicomin’s epoxy systems and water-based dye pigments.
In 2019, to make its boards even more eco-friendly, NSP introduced uni-directional flax fiber rails to its Cocomat boards. A highly durable and naturally reinforced fiber, flax allows NSP to construct boards using less fiberglass, which reduces their overall carbon footprint (some fiberglass is still required). The result is a visually unique board that’s light to carry and easy to paddle, while remaining flexible and strong.
NSP has a pretty wide line of sustainable standup paddleboards and surfboards, so customers can easily find a board that matches their level of paddling. The CocoFlax line of boards includes four standup paddleboards: the CocoFlax Performance Touring, CocoFlax Cruise, CocoFlax Allrounder, and CocoFlax DC Surf Wide. Included in the line of CocoFlax surfboards are the Endless, Hooligan, and Dream Rider. The Endless and Hooligan are longboard surfboards and the Dream Rider is a mid-length — all three are available in different sizes and widths.
NSP CocoFlax: On-Water Performance
“Eco-friendly” construction for any type of gear is great, but if it doesn’t perform well on the water then it’s just a waste of materials. I first got my hands on the CocoFlax Endless surfboard and the DC Surf Wide SUP back in 2018, and I’ve been putting both through thorough, long-term testing.
With the CocoFlax Endless, it was love at first sight: The board was easy to adjust to and performed well in a wide range of conditions. Although I was a fan of the DC Surf Wide and it was fun to ride, I found it was too wide for my petite build, and I opted to give it to a heavier paddler.
From an appearance standpoint, I love the looks of NSP’s boards. The coconut fibers are clearly visible, giving the boards a unique look. Both the surfboard and the SUP are incredibly lightweight, making loading and transporting them a breeze. I worried the lack of weight would make it difficult to get into waves, but I discovered the opposite.
The Endless is a paddling machine and it was easy to pick off both big and small waves. Unlike other logs, I found I could shift my weight forward to get into smaller waves without the risk of nose-diving. Although the Endless is best for small- to medium-size waves, it’s easy to maneuver, turns well, and makes for a fun ride in all conditions.
I’m a really big fan of NSP’s line of CocoFlax boards. They’re lightweight (many under 20 pounds), durable, paddle well, and are fun to ride. The flax rails and overall alternative material innovations are big wins for the environment, and I love having a board that I can feel good about under my feet.
In the future, I hope NSP will add more board sizes, widths, and shapes to its CocoFlax collection so that interested paddlers can expand or even replace boards in their existing quiver. Currently, NSP has surfboards for beginners to advanced surfers, in lengths from 5’4″ to 9’6″.