04 Oct Surfing & Enviromentalism

Surfing, like yoga, can be a merely physical pursuit, an uplifting experience but within both is the potential for the spiritual: a soulful connection to something deeper in life and deeper within ourselves. Surfing is physically demanding and the counter stretching of asana keeps the body in balance. The relationship to breath is also vital to big wave surfers who can be pinned down by a wave and need to be able to hold their breath and stay relaxed. Yoga for a surfer also helps deepen their focus and nurture presence of mind.

For some, surfing is merely a sport but for Rich Pavel it is a way of life; playing on the waves gives him an intrinsic connection to the pulse of mother earth, a calibration to the cycle and forces of nature, the in and out of the tides, the eternal breath of our blue planet.

resort bali

The waves formed on a distant sea, the energy of a wind generating a ripple that becomes a wave, enchanted Rich as a boy on a shoreline in San Diego. In his youth, surfing was perceived as a statement of counter culture, when a young healthy American should work hard for his country. It was deeply frowned upon to spend even the freshness of youth in such frivolous activities, pursuing his love of the ocean over a sensible career. In fact Rich was at the forefront of a movement that was to infuse the world and is now a multi-million dollar industry. The empty lost waves of the early surf movies are now a test of patience and sharing. A meditation class at Desa Seni will certainly help keep the cool when someone drops into your perfect wave!

Some may say surfers are flaky but Rich has committed over forty years to not only developing great style on the wave, but has also worked his way into high regard in the surf board shaping room as well. In common with the art of yoga, there is a lineage to the art of shaping and Rich has learnt from some of the best in the industry. He is at the top of his field and at the cutting edge of the art of bespoke surfboards. His skill is inspired by his love of surfing and with this, he has an intuitive knowledge of how intricate details in the sculpting of a surf blank can bring magical nuance to the rider’s experience.

It is no surprise that Bali, a mecca for surfers, has become part of his Green Rooms 2014 AustralAsia Design Tour. Shaping out of Deus in Canggu, our local, lovable and very cool surfer / biker store, Rich is embracing the ‘stain on the soul of surfing’. Although surfers love the sea it is not the most eco friendly sport. Mass culture has communally created the definition of the ‘magic surfboard’ and it is constructed from rigid Polystyrene foam covered in polyester resin – both highly toxic materials. Even though a greener board can be carved from balsa or bamboo wood they are not presently viable for standardization and can’t benefit from the economy of scales vital to make the product cost efficient.

However the greatest block to a greener surfboard Rich says: “is this well-established, intrinsic ideal of the ‘magic board’, a legendary belief that this is the only way to surf a wave? Is this style of board vital to the experience of surfing?   Is it not our love for the act that is intrinsic?”

Yet to arrive at a greener commercial surf board is a challenge that Rich is embracing, taking great lengths to bring here the most eco-friendly and socially responsibly made surfboard foam from the USA to create the new boards at Deus. In his own way participating in “best” or at least turning toward less harmful practices and thus   improving the surfing industries accountability to the preservation of our precious water planet. The highly toxic material from this factory is heavily restricted, controlled and are therefore the most responsibly manufactured surf blanks on the planet.

Rich adds, “it’s easier to get a well designed board out of well designed parts, so wastage is kept to a minimum. The consumer also values a well made product, keeping it longer and out of the land fill.’

Rich is giving the surfer a choice to buy responsibly, pay a little more and give the board greater value, looking after it with more love, knowing that less harm is being perpetrated. It is a win-win for all, love for surf and sea.

World Champion Kelly Slater “I think when a surfer becomes a surfer, it’s almost like an obligation to be an environmentalist at the same time”