[3 December/NZ Herald]

A Kiwi surfboard shaper’s experiment with wool has led to a global partnership with one of the biggest names in surfing and an entirely new type of surfboard. Tauranga-based Paul Barron has developed a wool-based substance that can be used to replace fibreglass on a surfboard. Barron caught the attention of Firewire Surfboards, majority owned by surfing legend Kelly Slater, who have a long history of incorporating sustainable alternatives into the construction of their surfboards. Firewire’s Woolight surfboard range, features Barron’s alternative to fibreglass made out of wool sourced from Pāmu Farms.  The boards are being rolled out globally. NZ Merino’s market development manager Hadleigh Smith sees potential in the IP to extend well beyond surfboard manufacturing and create a range of new opportunities for the wool industry given the wide use of fibreglass in the automotive, boating and construction. At a time when the wool industry has been struggling with historically low prices, the future of the industry is being framed by innovative Kiwi thinkers like Paul Barron, All Birds and Icebreaker.