Shaping the future: how science is making surfing more sustainable
UOW launches Surf Flex Lab Fund to continue pioneering surf engineering research
The ocean is Professor Marc in the laboratory of het Panhuis, the place where he imagines new ideas and puts his research to the test. It sounds fun, but it’s all in the name of science, and the implications for how surfers interact with the water, for the sustainability of the sport and the ocean, are serious.
The Het Panhuis professor was the driving force behind the University of Wollongong’s Surf Flex Lab, which advances surfing and watersports technology to maximize performance, durability and watersports enjoyment. Run by surfers, for surfers, the Surf Flex Lab captures the intersection between sport and science, focusing on performance, materials and durability.
What started as a project examining how 3D-printed fins could improve a surfer’s performance and experience in the water has grown into a comprehensive research lab that is the world’s first in the field of surf engineering. Led by Professor de Het Panhuis, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, the Surf Flex Lab brings together experts from the fields of surfing, engineering and science, bringing together multidisciplinary capabilities to create a research laboratory at the cutting edge of technology. change the way we see and approach the sport of surfing.
“We are continuing our knowledge of surf engineering in a way that has never been done before. We are advancing what is possible through technology and innovation,” said Professor in het Panhuis.
Professor Marc in het Panhuis at the Surfing as a Science event in Wollongong.
Last week (Wednesday 28th September), Surf Flex Lab held a Surfing as a Science event in Wollongong, with the aim of showcasing their work to members of the wider surfing community and encouraging the local surfing community to think about how sustainability fits in with sport. which is so fundamental to Australian identity.
Representatives from organizations including Wave Changer and Surf Rider Foundation Australia, along with shapers and surfboard manufacturers, attended the Surfing as a Science discussion, reflecting the need for a whole community approach to sustainability issues in the surf.
During the event, Professor in het Panhuis launched the Surf Flex Lab Fund, which will allow donors to support the world of UOW’s surf engineering research team and fund scholarships for students honorees and doctoral students to pursue their research in the field.
“Surfing is a sport that makes you think you are at one with nature, but the reality is that there are a lot of sustainability issues. These issues are evident throughout the board’s life cycle. surf.
“It’s the materials that are used, the waste that goes into shaping and creating the boards. Currently, there is no way to recycle old surfboards, so when they break or survive use, they often end up in landfill. And if surfboards break in the water, they can release ocean-damaging foam or microplastics.
“Sustainability issues also extend to the global footprint, as many surfboard companies manufacture their boards in countries like Thailand and China and then ship them to Australia.”
A member of the UOW surf team conducts research in the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia.
Professor in het Panhuis said many in the surfing community are aware of the need to imprint greater durability on surfing, but there has always been a tension between performance and the need to take care of the surf. ‘environment. The two do not necessarily go together.
“Boards made from more durable materials, like wood, are fun to ride, but don’t deliver the performance that many surfers expect. And they’re usually heavier than comparable products,” said the professor in het Panhuis.
It aims to bridge the gap between the two concepts, using the data gained through the team’s research to create and manufacture surfboards that can perform while being better for the environment.
“How are we going to do this? This is the trip,” said Professor in het Panhuis. “But we’re looking at looking at the life cycle of current manufacturing approaches, new materials with improved durability, and taking an entirely different approach to materials and manufacturing.”
UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson attended the launch of the Surf Flex Lab Fund and said recognizing the science involved in surfing was fundamental to spurring pioneering research in the field.
UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson speaks at the Surfing as a Science event.
“We are surrounded by a breathtaking coastline and surfing is ingrained in our psyche, as part of our national identity. But it is often seen as just a hobby. It is time to recognize the science that underpins surfing, and that’s where Professor in het Panhuis and his team of researchers come in.
“The research they are undertaking in this area is fascinating and pioneering, but it is also vital to the health of our oceans.
“The UOW takes its commitment to sustainability very seriously. We only have one planet and the best legacy each of us can leave to our children and grandchildren is a livable and sustainable world.
“We aim to be Australia’s leading surf research university, with our home here on the surf-rich South Coast and our team of world-renowned researchers. I’m excited to launch the Surf Flex Lab Fund and encourage the community to support the work of the Surf Flex Lab.