The Hobart

Surfboards with a Seaweed Difference

by Lily Whiting
Surfboards with a Seaweed Difference

Like most genius ideas, seaweed scientist Jock White and a builder/surfboard shaper Tom Gauden came up with their soon to be launched brand, Great Southern Designs over a beer.

A surfboard brand designed to start con- versations about the marine environment that surrounds our island state, Jock, Tom and ‘resin-paws’ Frankie are combining their love for the surf with spreading awareness about our beautiful Great Southern Reef.

Congratulations on the launch of Great Southern Designs! What conversations were you two having that led to the concept for the company? Like most great ideas, Great Southern Designs was first ignited over a few beers during the dead of winter of 2022. We are both local Tasmanians, bonded over a passion for surfing, the unique Tasmanian marine environment, and a passion for spreading awareness about climate change and its impacts on our environment.

What do you do for work? Jock: I come from a marine scientist back- ground, and am currently working for Sea Forest, a Tasmanian company working to reduce methane emissions and fight climate change through the cultivation of Asparagopsis seaweed. Through this research, I’ve been surprised at how much seaweed does in ecosystem dynamics and its potential as a commercial product. Tom: I am currently working full-time as a qualified builder but have been shaping and glassing surfboards for over ten years through my independently owned repair and design company, TG Surfboards. I grew up constantly in Tassie’s ocean, and have either lived close by or worked different jobs near or on the water.

There are two very unique surfboard series in the works. How did you come up with the concepts and how are they linked to the environment? Both of our designs are unique but designed to start the conversation about climate change in two different ways.

Asparagopsis

The Tasmanian Seaweed Series is a collection of boards handcrafted with unique seaweed imprints collected from beach wrack. Tasmania’s Great Southern Reef is renowned for being one of the most seaweed-diverse locations globally, with species becoming increasingly endangered from climate change. The goal of this range is that surfers will become more accustomed to the plethora of seaweed species found within the Great Southern Reef.

The Reflect Release Series is a board designed to reveal and replicate the environment it is immersed in. A love of surfing generally accompanies an appreciation for the coastal environment. As surfers, there is a moral obligation to protect and preserve this environment for the enjoyment of generations to come. Yet, how often do we pause and take a moment to think and ‘reflect’ on our impact on this environment?

What was the process of bringing these boards from concept to fruition that is different to normal board designing/ making? As far as we know, neither of these designs have been done before. We are making each board unique and at an exceptional standard, requiring complex attention to detail and making for many long nights in the workshop! We wanted to make sure the appearance of the seaweed replicated its living state closely, so this took a bit of time to nail. We worked on transferring this design into fins by using some of Tasmania’s more robust bull kelp (Durvillaea potatorum) and we are super stoked with the results.

Does this make each Seaweed Series board one of a kind? Absolutely, no two boards will be the same. Each board holds a unique species of seaweed and will have educational background information about that variety supplied with each purchase. We are also wanting to supply the coordinates of the specific collection point to drive home just how important this natural resource is to preserve.

A reflective prototype

What is it like surfing on the Reflect Release board? Leg ropes must be extremely handy with this one. It is definitely a unique experience and a bizarre feeling surfing on something constantly moving and changing appearance with its environment. When you look at the board underwater, it is essentially invisible, so the design may also have the potential for predator avoidance. Discussions have been in the works about the next Reflect Release board possibly including small rear vision mirrors for the rider to spot drop-ins from other surfers who might not see the board at a quick glance!

We hear alot about the decline of the Great Barrier Reef with coral bleaching, but not so much about the Great Southern Reef which is so expansive, what is happening to this reef? The media’s reporting of climate change effects on the Great Barrier is largely led by its large tourist presence. The Great Southern Reef has as well suffered severe debilitation but hasn’t received the same amount of attention. Over sixteen million Australians live within 50km of the Great Southern Reef and it holds a large majority of Australia’s marine life, yet few people know about its existence and the effects of climate change on it. For example, the extension of the warm East Coast current as a result of climate change has driven invasive sea urchin larvae further South to survive and establish from mainland reefs. These urchins are forming urchin barrens and decimating our kelp forests. Unfortunately, these changes may be hard to detect and understand without quantifiable data and contributions from citizen science.

A seaweed fin

As keen surfers living in a state surrounded by the ocean, has environmental stewardship always been a strong part of the surfing community conversation in Tassie? Tasmania is very community-driven and we are optimistic that Tasmania and broader populations are capable of understanding our purpose and mission as a company. We see our board designs as symbolic for starting conversations about our environment while also giving surfers a unique board that represents a slice of Tasmania’s ecosystem.

How do you incorporate environmental sustainability into the making of the boards? We are undertaking more research to develop our surfboard making methods to incorporate alternative products to further our aim for sustainability and the reduction of waste materials and harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, surfboard making is fairly niche to this area of product development. For now, the board designs are the key to the conversation which will only be rounded by the more research we undertake and conversations we can raise along the way.

Board shaping in progress

What’s the plan of attack to get these boards in the water? We intend to do a limited number of the Seaweed Series boards and the Reflect Release boards can be made on demand. We hope to do a broad range of board designs, although we will mainly focus on mid-lengths and alternate summery fish-type designs. Ultimately, we hope people buy the boards for what they are and see it as an opportunity to ride maybe a different type of board to what they are used to. Our boards are built strong and something our customers will have forever, a unique surfboard with a message for the greater good.

Boards will be available for sale on the Great Southern Designs website in the near future, with product availability kept up to date on Instagram.

www.greatsoutherndesigns.net

IG: @greatsoutherndesigns

 

Love this

Close
Cold Water Wake Up Call
It seems everywhere I turn someone is talking about or participating in cold water swimming right now.
A Short Geelong Getaway
Since the Spirit of Tasmania terminal moved from Melbourne to Geelong late last year, a visit to Geelong has been on the radar.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
Magazine
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
February 2024

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!