Stab Magazine | Watch: Fijian Tube God Threads 4,000 Cigarette Butts Through A Burly Cloudbreak Tunnel

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Watch: Fijian Tube God Threads 4,000 Cigarette Butts Through A Burly Cloudbreak Tunnel

Tevita Gukilau is on the darts.

style // Apr 12, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Way back in 2017, I did my surfboard test (of sorts) on a 5’5, 17-pound twin fin made from 10,000 cigarette butts that had been collected off of California beaches. 

Reason being, the Cigarette Surfboard had just won Vissla’s Creators and Innovators contest, which urged environmentally conscious surfers to create an article of surf craft from previously discarded items. 

Frankly, the board went pretty shit. The cigarettes made the board heavy and cumbersome, while the shape itself was of questionable quality. I could hardly do a turn on the thing, as you’ll see in the video below. The Ciggy Board’s only redeeming qualities were that it paddled well, went fast down the line, and duck-dove deep, probably because it weighed more than two women’s bowling balls. 

https://player.vimeo.com/video/239303210

Was this the film peak of Michael Ciaramella’s bearded existence? We think so.

So when I saw a photo of Tevita Gukilau – Fiji’s premier surfer, who you might remember from his multiple Cloudbreak CT entries – coursing through a burly Cloudbreak tunnel on a board that he described as being “made from 1000s of cigarette butts,” I had to give him a call.  

How was it possible? Why’d he do it? Did the board break, ironically spilling all those thousands of butts back into the Pacific?

All the questions I wanted to know.

As it turned out, Tevita got three stellar waves on the new Ciggy Board – which is 6’9 x 19.25 x 2.5 x 4,000 butts (and weighs less than their previous version) – and made them all, meaning the board is still intact and Fiji’s water remains pristine.  

Here’s Veet on his experience: 

DSC00332

Tevita on a smoker. Photo: Sean Evans

Hey Tevita, we saw the photo of you riding a cigarette surfboard at pumping Cloudbreak. How did all that come about?
Well, the guys were in Fiji filming for the Cigarette Surfboard documentary, and they sent me a message on Instagram just saying they’d made a board out of cigarettes [laughs]. They said they’d be stoked if I got a couple of waves on it, so I was like, “Yeah, why not?”, but there were no hard plans. Then one day I was out in the water, and Ben [the filmer] was also out there with the board, so I was like, “Yeah, I’ll have a crack at it.” Then I ended up getting three waves, and the waves were firing, so they kinda did all the work for me.  

Yeah, we saw that clip you got and were pretty baffled. It was a good tube by conventional standards, but when you add the fact that it’s a 4,000-cigarette single-fin into the mix it becomes quite remarkable. 
[Laughs] Yeah it was pretty weird. I wasn’t really expecting that to happen, but I kinda just grabbed the board and three good waves came to me. 

Were you skeptical of the board’s performance capabilities?
Well, I’m not really a big retro board-user to begin with. I can’t really remember the last time I rode a single fin, so I was semi-skeptical about riding any sort of retro board out at tubing Cloudbreak. But as soon as I got on it I could tell it paddled really well, and the conditions were super glassy, so it was a pretty perfect day to ride it. But it’s just different riding single fins. I don’t know what they feel like generally, so it’s hard to compare the cigarette board between any other 6’9 single fin.  

We rode the first version of the cigarette surfboard a couple years back, and it was incredibly heavy. Was that your experience also?
It definitely felt kind of heavy, but when you’re riding a retro single fin, you’re already expecting that. Plus, Cloudbreak’s got so much poke that it’s not bad having a bit of weight, because it keeps the board stuck to the face, so I think the extra weight might have ended up working for it. Once you get going it just sort of shoots you down the line.  

Screen Shot 2019 04 11 at 7.01.09 AM

All five Ciggy boards to date (Tevita’s is on the far right and weighs 12 pounds).

It looks like with this board they created some art out of the cigarettes, which sounds like an oxymoron, but what did you think of the design?
Yeah, it’s all sort of dimpled because they shaped the board then laid the cigarette butts in after that. So when they glassed over the butts, it created these lumps, almost like you’re lying on a heavy wax job. But I didn’t realize until after I’d caught a wave that the bottom’s the exact same, so it’s kind of like a golf ball or something with all the dimples. It just adds to the flavor I guess. I don’t know whether it has an adverse or positive effect, but it’s pretty unique. 

What do you know about their project?
I think it’s cool that they’re bringing awareness to this environmental issue. Picking up ciggy butts off the beach and turning them into something fun is better than leaving them there to rot. [The Ciggy Board boys have already visited Fiji, Hawaii, and all over Europe to create their “environmentary.”] 

We’ve heard there’s a bit of a pollution problem in Fiji. Could you tell us about that?
There’s definitely a lot of plastic and crap on the beaches around here. It comes down to crew not being educated on proper disposal, and not having the infrastructure of garbage trucks to pick up trash on a regular basis. So people just dump it, which is kind of sad.  

I think that’s kind of the whole point of the cigarette board. It’s just a harsh physical reminder of what we’re putting into the world and our oceans. 
Yeah, it just makes you think a lot more about the products you buy and the things you do. You notice it a lot in Fiji. There are so many single-use plastics, because people just don’t really know. You go to a supermarket over here to buy something, and by the time you leave you’ve got three plastic bags for one item. It’s pretty crazy.

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