Surf resort to be pioneer in using plant-based wetsuit technology

15/04/2024

THE world’s first inland surf resort has announced all of their wetsuits will be made from a plant-based foam material after tests showed they outperform more conventional alternatives. In a pioneering move, Lost Shore Surf Resort will become the first major surfing destination in the world to use a fully plant-based wetsuit fleet.

The team behind the resort, which is due to open in September near Edinburgh, has tested a whole range of wetsuits as part of their Surf Lab partnership with Edinburgh Napier University, a unique collaboration that aims to undertake ground-breaking surfing research in Scotland. They tested the capabilities of different wetsuits and materials with a focus on keeping the user warm and comfortable.

During the test, a surfer wearing different wetsuits was immersed in an ice-cold water bath up to their shoulders, with temperatures taken from different areas of the body before, during, and after being in the water. After a thorough testing process it was found that Gul’s Yulex wetsuit, which is made from natural rubber, performed the best.

Yulex foam is a renewable, plant-based material and its production reduces carbon emissions by over 80% compared to synthetic rubbers such as neoprene and geoprene. Geoprene, the primary material used by the wetsuit industry, is made from mined limestone, whilst neoprene suits are made from petrochemicals.

The innovative material is harvested from FSC® and PEFC®  certified natural rubber plantations. This means the natural rubber used to make the wetsuits come from a source that is deforestation free, where environmental impacts are minimised, and smallholders are given fair pay. Yulex is also the first company to pay the highest premium and share more of the profits of natural rubber sales with plantation smallholders. The origins of the natural rubber used to make the wetsuits are traceable back to specific land plots.  

Using the highest grade of Yulex foam and made by British wetsuit firm, Gul, the suits will be 5/4mm thick and have an anti-abrasion, hydrophobic, super stretch recycled nylon laminate, ensuring increased performance and durability.

Lost Shore has purchased 700 wetsuits in a range of sizes for guests, making it the largest plant-based wetsuit fleet in the world.  It is anticipated that over 160,000 surfers at Lost Shore will use the product every year. 

Dr Brendon Ferrier, co-founder and academic lead of Surf Lab, said: “This sort of test is exactly why we set up Surf Lab and provided some really exciting results. We have a unique space helping Edinburgh Napier University become one of the leaders in surfing research.

“Our wetsuit tests put the participant in an extreme environment to really put these products through their paces. The Gul Yulex suit performed the best across the different wetsuits that we tested. That’s an incredible result given it is made from plant-based materials.

“What really shone during the testing of the Gul Yulex product was the higher temperatures at the lower back, which is attributed to the design which includes a high performance zip that reduces flushing. This is when cold water replaces the thin layer of warm water in the wetsuit and makes it difficult to maintain body warmth. 

“Staying warm in the water is very important and surfers must always ensure that proper mitigations are in place, such as a high quality wetsuit. Our tests have provided Lost Shore Surf Resort with the information they need to use the best wetsuits that will keep surfers as warm and as comfortable as possible.”

Andy Hadden, founder of Lost Shore Surf Resort, added: “Lost Shore Surf Resort is a pioneering project in itself. By using this Gul Yulex wetsuit we are once again leading from the front in the world of surfing. Our priority at Lost Shore will be keeping our surfers warm and comfortable when they are in the water. That’s why it was so important for us to collaborate with researchers to test and then select the highest performing wetsuit. This cutting edge Gul Yulex product exceeded our expectations.

“For avid surfers or those trying surfing for the first time, Lost Shore will provide a unique opportunity to try this amazing wetsuit while giving peace of mind that they are using one of the most environmentally friendly products available.”

Liz Bui, CEO at Yulex, said: “Yulex is the original innovator in producing natural rubber sporting goods and apparel from responsible supply chains. We are confident that most surfers will not feel any difference in performance compared to more conventional wetsuits. These tests demonstrate that Yulex foam performs the same, if not better, and is warm, stretchy, and durable.

“We are committed to promoting more sustainable practices including through our Equitable Agriculture program and by sharing profits directly with our smallholders who are the backbone of the natural rubber industry and the most vulnerable. Doing business this way means we are also supporting rural livelihoods and being more responsible.”

Jack Knowles, Gul Performance Apparel, said: “We have been cold water wetsuit specialists for over 50 years now so we know how important it is to keep warm in the water.

“Using the highest grade of Yulex foam available and adding in our PK Blackout Zip we have created a durable, comfortable wetsuit that will keep the user warm. Importantly, it has 80% lower carbon emissions than those made with more conventional non-renewable materials.

“Gul’s partnership with Lost Shore is one we are very proud of. Lost Shore will be a world leading surf resort that offers accessibility and a first-class experience to people of all levels. We share this ambition to make surfing a sport for all.”

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