Made from 95% renewable raw materials, the Fanatic RAY ECO paddleboard just may be the most sustainable stand up paddleboard on the planet. Longtime Fanatic innovator & traveler Michael Walther tells the tale.
Zero Emissions Project + BoardLab Collaboration = Fanatic Ray Eco
Made from regional, fast growing wood and produced in Kiel, Michael Walther of the Zero Emissions Project and Jannek Grocholl of BoardLab had one goal: to produce a fast, light and stable paddleboard that has the lowest possible impact on nature. The result? The RAY ECO, a board supported by Fanatic SUP made from 95% renewable, raw material.
Fanatic Ray Eco Sustainable SUP: It’s about Time
Longtime environmental activist, SUP traveler and engineer Michael Walther says the Ray Eco is likely to be the most sustainable paddleboard on the planet. Rather than using glass or carbon fibers as in traditional stand up paddleboards, regional wood is the material for construction. Also, the Ray Eco does away with the usual foam core and replaces it with a rib structure made from the same wood. Sealed with organic linseed oil, you’ll find no protective layer of toxic varnishes or resins. Walther and Grocholl even chose to use natural pigments to apply the logos and lettering on each board.
Dedicated to their sustainability mission, the Walther-Grocholl team committed to performing all aspects of the shaping process with minimal impact during production. “The board will have minimal impact on nature during its full life cycle,” Grocholl said. “It was important to us that this board is not just a marketing story that, but upon closer inspection, also offers advantage over conventional boards.”
Ray Eco Regionally Grown Wood adds to Lightweight Design
The Ray Eco’s regionally grown wood comes from the Kiri tree found in Germany and other countries. Walther-Grocholl harvested the wood from the company KIRITEC, a part of the WeGrow Group. In addition to low water consumption, Kiri offers other ecological advantages. The trees of one hectar can bind approx. 35-40t CO2 per year – four times the binding capacity of an average mixed forest. In addition, the Kiri wood is of low weight and is seawater resistant. All aspects of the Ray Eco are taken into consideration in terms of their sustainability.
“Water sports articles are luxury products. Therefore, it is even more important to keep a critical eye on resource consumption and impact on the environment,” explains Michael Walther. “The fact that plastic products today are partly advertised as “sustainable” because they last a long time is a farce in my eyes. This argument only counts if the article is actually used for a long time. Many water sports enthusiasts upgrade equipment because they want something new, even though the old one is still technically okay.”
Community Based Program for Eco-Conscious Paddlers
To ensure long-term water protection, the wood of the Fanatic Ray Eco is treated with organic linseed oil. This coating must be renewed after some time. So, there is some care needed to keep the board in its optimal condition for decades. But caring for products is a sustainable practice. In this way, these board stands in contrast to other forms of societal consumption. As the antithesis of a quick purchase in a throw-away society, the Ray Eco appeals to the craftsman’s love of design and necessity for ongoing care to keep the board sharp.
Michael Walther, activist and paddle explorer, will take the Ray Eco on several paddleboard tours in upcoming months to test that the design can cope with his physical demands placed on it. Those who know this Kiel, Germany native know that he will put the Ray Eco through tough endurance tests and ample water time. Remember, Walther paddled the coast of Greenland in May 2018, circumnavigated Schleswig Holstein in 2019 and covered more than 1300km on his journey from Basel to Kiel in 2020 on his stand up paddleboard.
After testing, the Fanatic Ray Eco will be available for purchase for paddlers looking for a high quality natural product. BoardLab in Kiel, Germany will produce a series of the Ray Eco each year. Jannek Grocholl and team will create community around ownership by availing the BoardLab workshop to paddlers for ongoing care of the Ray Eco board, and guide them on how to care for it themselves.
More information about this particularly sustainable SUP can be found at www.zeroemissions.eu
Aloha. See you out there.