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Come on in, the water's green 

Green is the way to go these days, even if you're not manufacturing SUVs. Henry Swales, a 2005 Cal Poly aerospace engineering graduate and SLO County surfer, has developed a product line of surfboard fins made from plant-based resin.

click to enlarge THE SHAPE OF FINS TO COME :  Henry Swales took a green business model to the waves with Fluid Earth and his eco-friendly surfboard fins. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • THE SHAPE OF FINS TO COME : Henry Swales took a green business model to the waves with Fluid Earth and his eco-friendly surfboard fins.

# "My goal in creating these fins is to remove some of the toxic chemicals from the environment and create a sound product," he said. "I was working another job for a kiteboarding company and saw the green movement within the surf community. The more I learned, the more problems I realized needed to be solved."

Swales's company, Fluid Earth, is all about keeping it local and supporting the use of materials and methods to manufacture surfboard fins with only a sliver of environmental impact.

"Your average longboard fin uses epoxy resin and fiberglass reinforcement, which is quite harmful," Swales said. "I've researched several different options to make high-performance fins with as much biodegradable material as possible."

But don't think that the "green" moniker comes at a cost to the surf experience. Swales understands that sustainable products alone aren't enough to make surfers change their fins.

"Performance is No. 1," Swales said. "And these fins are right there performance wise. I've taken a lot of time to test the fins in conjunction with the material to make sure they have the right response, provide good speed and drive out of a turn."

In addition to developing Earth-friendly fins, Fluid Earth offers a recycling program for damaged fins and donates a portion of its sales to grassroots environmental organizations.

The fins are available at the company's website, www.fluidearth.org, and at local surf shops, including Shell Beach Surf Shop and SLO Surf Company.

Fluid Earth plans to expand its product line to include fin boxes and thruster fins.

For more information, contact Swales at 801-4765 or e-mail him at info@fluidearth.org.

Staff Writer Kai Beech compiled this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send your business news to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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