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Rusty launches shark proof surfboards!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

You like stripes?

Here’s something for the poor bastards in WA and Byron Bay whose anxiety levels are off the charts. A surfboard that may, or may not, give pause to an attacking shark.

If you surf ’round those parts, you know there’s a chance, small, but not that small, you’ll be eaten alive by a great white. It’s hard to even drop into surf talk without the whispered stories, some true, some exaggerated, of near-misses, sightings, bumps etc.

But what are you going to do? It might be the greatest hypocrisy of modern man that while he binge eats the ocean clean, factory ships gobbling up entire eco-systems, sushi trains running 24 hours a day across the world, he simultaneously weeps at the death of a handful of select fish.

You don’t want man-eating sharks owning the beach? Throw in nets.

They’re brutal.

They work.

Ask anyone on the Gold Coast. Not a single fatal attack on a netted beach in fifty years.

It might be the greatest hypocrisy of modern man that while he binge eats the ocean clean, factory ships gobbling up entire eco-systems, sushi trains running 24 hours a day across the world, he simultaneously weeps at the death of a handful of select fish.

In Western Australia, shark nets were pulled after a thirteen-week trial ’cause the public couldn’t stand the photos of the animals being dragged aboard boats and shot.

Surfers? You’re officially on your own.

Which has opened the gate to a raft of supposed repellants, deterrents, whatever you want to call ’em. The most comical is a $250 legrope outfitted with magnets.

One industry insider told us the online surf store Swell had sold 600 in a day. 

This morning, it was announced that the Western Australian-based surf clothier and surfboard maker, Rusty, was cohabiting with Shark Mitigation Systems (another WA company who, incidentally, signed Taj Burrow as ambassador in June, the day after a surfer had his leg bitten off) to make patterned surfboards.

According to The Australian,

Shark Mitigation Systems surged yesterday after announcing a partnership with international surf retailer Rusty, which will incorporate the company’s shark-deterring patterns into its surfboards.

The news saw investors dive into the small cap stock, with trading volume 10 times above average and a closing gain of 10.7 per cent to 15.5c.

In conjunction with the University of Western Australia, Shark Mitigation Systems has developed patterns for wetsuits and surfboards designed to reduce the risk of a shark attack by confusing the predator’s vision.

Researchers say recent testing conducted in South Africa showed it took, on average, 400 per cent longer for sharks to engage with their patterned wetsuits than standard black versions and, while the surfboards are not ­directly referenced in that study, the company says the science is similar.

A sharp increase in shark interactions, and subsequent media coverage, in recent years has ­significantly boosted international interest in the technology, according to Shark Mitigation Systems co-founder and director Craig Anderson.

“We’ve been talking to a number of different water apparel and water equipment companies all over the world. There are already companies offering our graphic on the bottom of their board, as a retrofit or as a custom design,” Mr Anderson told The Australian.

Rusty will offer the patterns as an option on their custom surfboards in Australia and New Zealand before widening into the company’s international distribution.

You like ’em?

Or is it more snake oil to rub on your wounds?