Sustainable Surfboards Making Waves

5 Minutes with Woodpecker Natural Surfboards Shaper Bill Bulgen

Bill Bulgen is a master craftsman.

It shows in the surfboards he produces. His Woodpecker hollow wood sleds have a very different vibe when you pick them up, feel the weight and test the rail. You get a growing sensation that this board you're holding is ALIVE.

Bill has taken a leaf out of the original board builder's book a Mr Tom Blake. The legendary surfer and shaper was the first to produce hollow wooden framed surfboards in the 1930’s, based on the traditional boards from Hawaii.

We had a chat with Bill to get some insight into his journey.

TGS: Hey Bill we love your boards man, how did you get into this?

Bill: I started several years ago making hollow wooden surfboards on a "hobby" basis for family & friends. As more of my boards get in the water, and exposure increases, the demand is growing. I am currently producing at my maximum capacity!

TGS: Amazing. What were your reasons for going the timber and sustainable route?

Bill: The surf industry has been totally reliant on by-products of the petroleum industry for too long. Surfers are more in touch with nature, and the elements, than most people and we need to stand-up and be counted in defense of the environment.

TGS: So true. Tell us more about the boards themselves?

Bill: My surfboards are 100% natural. I use sustainable plantation grown timbers (as far as possible) and glass with SUPERSAP plant based epoxies. 
I concentrate primarily on longboards because we have found that the minor additional weight of a wooden board coupled with the extra buoyancy is actually an advantage in this category. These boards provide a true logging experience with outstanding nose riding potential. Even my wood chippings and sawdust are collected by a local NGO to up-cycle as compost for greening the poorer communities on the Cape Flats!

TGS: Love it. So what's the plan going forward?

Bill: Fortunately I retire from formal employment at end June and will expand my operations to satisfy the rapidly growing demand. Wooden surfboards not only offer an environmentally responsible option but look really great and surf exceptionally well!

Atta boy Bill. What a gentleman. Thanks for your time.

The Greener Surfer will be stocking Bill's boards in our online store soon but if you want to get your hands on one of these beauties you can get hold of Bill here.

Who wouldn't want to ride something this beautiful?

Imagine this flying down the line at Supers!?

3 of the "Pecker" models

From raw timber to sleek cruisers these boards are alive and shred ready


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