Alterego Interview Shapingbay

Im Blue Yearbook 2020 haben wir auf unseren #Boardporn Seiten auch die Boards der jungen Brettschmiede AlterEgo aus Sardinien vorgestellt. Wer da genau hingeschaut hat, dem sind die beiden, an den Rails platzierten Stringer aus Kork sicher aufgefallen. Im folgenden Interview erklärt der CEO Alessandro Danese was es mit der ACT-Bauweise auf sich hat und wie er versucht seine Boards mit möglichst geringem COs-Footprint zu produzieren.
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AlterEgo CEO Alessandro Danese


To kick this off, drop us a few lines about where you’re from and what you’re about.
I’m from Alghero, Sardinia: a small town on the north shore of our island.
Started surfing about 20 years ago, then study for a degree in environmental engineering. In the last 10 years, I’ve been an entrepreneur in the surfing industry, setting up one of the first Italian surf-oriented websites (including an automatic wave forecast system) and one of the biggest Italian surf shops. 
In the last three years, I’ve been part of the AlterEgo project, actually one of the most interesting surf-related projects out there.


What made you pick up the shaping tools?
Good point. Never. My personal approach to surfboards is completely different from the most part of surfboard builders and respectful in what the word shaper means for me. Basically, I am a designer who put his ideas on the concept than on a CAD, working with developers, including R&D, riders, and production. About the finishing process, we got a high qualified artisan’s team who comes from a long Italian nautical craftsmanship tradition: the final result is a real premium board, not made by a man but made by a team.

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Speaking about the waves in the Mediterranean Sea. How have these influenced your craft?

Not so much. I and the development team spent a lot of time all around the world on surf trips, so our range is made for a wide range of different wave conditions.
 Anyway, the Sardinian playground is absolutely astonishing to test the boards.

Who are some of the surfers you worked closest with on boards?
Our riders include the super-talented Giovanni Cossu the young gun and traveler Andrea Costa and a big guy and kitesurfer, Fabrizio Piga, who can really push the board to the limit in few hours.

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And who are some of the biggest influences on your shaping and what do you feel goes into the creation of a great board?

From my real first time surfing I asked myself why I should ride one board or another, why I should ride one size or outline, or rocker, or rails or concave… So basically, I was asking myself: can a shaper REALLY make a full custom? Obviously yes, but if it works: it’s pure magic. 
It took 20 years for the surfing industry to start using CAD, so actually, this is what it’s turning magic in science. So, I should name some scientists before a shaper. 
About concepts, which always stands before science and anything else, I love JS simple and pure lines and Channel Islands pre 2013.

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What are the materials (blanks, glass, resin) you prefer to work with and why?
We are all about eco. We’re born to make an eco-innovative-high performance board: and we’re doing it. 
So we go local for EPS, Colan Australia for glass and Resin Research, or Sicomin for resin.
 About our new technology – the bi:o‘cor:k - that’s the real deal.
 We solved the bigger issue: to swap the EPS with something compostable and with the right density. That’s it: we got it.
 Now our composable core works like EPS and it’s compostable in 3 weeks.
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Tell us about your Active Cork Technology, how did you come up with the idea?

Basically switching the flex concept upside down. 
Usually, boards got inserts for strength and stiffness like parabolic rails, stringers or carbon strips that are really difficult to control while talking about flex and that „magic feeling“.
 We put all the strength in the glassing process, with a standard recipe, so our flex control comes from two cork inserts which basically work like shock absorbers.


How does it work and what are the benefits?
First of all: damping control. You can take a 6 ft grinder in choppy conditions and have a closer drive of a glassy one.
 In the same way, we can manage the responsiveness of the board; basically controlling how much the board reacts in a radical turn or pop maneuver, and this results in safer landings.



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What are the challenges when building a board with ACT?

High precision versus time. Flex management requires low tolerances in materials use and positioning: the cork stringers placement changes for every size of every board, to guarantee a perfect tuning.
 Time is another big challenge: this is a premium board made in Italy, not in a big factory in Thailand; the full production process is long and includes a 7-step finishing.

Any last words?
The Surfing industry is facing an unprecedented growth with Olympics and surf pools: we’ll see more and more boards going out in the market to the customers, then becoming trash. It’s time to switch to a really sustainable version of surfing, without performance compromises.


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Alle Fotos: AlterEgo Surfboards