The Green Room is a series of interviews that I conduct with fellow saltwater fanatics, including up-and-coming brands, surf world personalities and industry leaders. This particular interview is with the surfboard construction mad scientist, wellness polymath and all-round good dude, Daniel Patrick. Daniel is the founder of Surf4Earth, Nala Boards and co-founder of the Wu Wave Experience, among other ventures. He’s also a breathwork performance coach and surf apnea specialist, working with surfers and bodyboarders of all levels from beginners to world champions.

Daniel, how are you? How’s life?

Good! I had an epic surf on Saturday morning and things are going well. Winter is kicking in properly here in Cape Town, which is nice. Some solid swells on the way and the wind has died down, which makes working slightly challenging.

It can actually be an issue when the waves are pumping, right? Those webcams are dangerous haha

Haha. I mean… sometimes you just need to get out there and get it out of your system.

Agreed. So tell me about your brands. I know Surf4Earth was the first one you launched, but you’re a busy man, hey!

I have Surf4Earth, Nala Boards and Tidal Trip. These are the three umbrellas or three independent businesses.

Within Surf4Earth there are a few different things as well, such as the surf clinics, surf trips and surf apnea workshops. Then I do a lot of ice bath and breathwork workshops under a name called Ice Expansion, which falls under the Surf4Earth banner. There’s also Nala Boards, which is the eco surfboard brand, and now Tidal Trip, which is an online booking platform with listings from boutique surf and ocean experience providers.

I also started a fourth venture last year, which is a conscious men’s community called Brothers Rising. With Brothers Rising, we create a safe space for men to come together in difficult times and step into their highest power and potential.

Group of surfers coming together at a Surf 4 Earth clinic.

You’re the polymath of surf business! I’m curious then, what does a typical day look like for you?

I’ve learned that if I wake up and go from meditation straight to the laptop, it kind of messes with my mind a bit. I’m an energetic human being, so I prefer to go from meditation to yoga, the gym or surfing.

Really, any form of physical exercise. This allows me to settle in nicely behind the laptop in the workspace and get in the zone to focus. If I don’t do this, then I’ve got an itch for the whole day.

And maybe this is backtracking a bit, but have you always been a surfer? What led you to the point you’re at now where you’re so ocean and wellness-oriented?

I actually grew up inland in a town called Pretoria in South Africa, not near the ocean.

My family owned a game farm, so I spent most weekends connected to nature, tracking animals, going on game drives, bushwalks and occasionally hunting. This early exposure to wildlife sparked my passion for nature, leading me to study nature conservation for three years after school.

I then worked near Kruger National Park as a game ranger and headed an anti-poaching squad protecting rhinos. This work was intense and isolating, as I spent more time with rhinos than people, running around with a semi-automatic weapon while my friends were enjoying university life in Stellenbosch.

I was in all their WhatsApp groups and they’re like, “Okay, where are we partying tonight? What are we doing this weekend?”. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there by myself in the bush while all my mates are having a good time. So I thought, okay… I’m going to embrace my youth a bit.

I moved to Stellenbosch for a year, where I discovered and fell in love with surfing. It became an addiction, but I couldn’t ignore my passion for nature conservation.

I researched the surfing industry and found it to be environmentally toxic due to the production of surfboards, wetsuits, waxes and sunscreens. This realisation led me to explore the possibility of making eco-friendly surfboards.

Cleaning up a beach in South Africa. Finding trash.

Was this a natural segway into establishing Surf4Earth and Nala?


I started exploring the possibility of making eco boards for myself with not too much success. Well, successful for me, but the Average Joe would be like, “What’s this piece of rubbish” haha!

During that process, I developed strong connections and relationships with some of South Africa’s top surfboard shapers… veterans who have been in the industry for 20 to 30 years.

At that time, they were all shaping PU boards. I came in and showed them what others were doing in Australia and Portugal. I started sourcing some of those materials and began R&D.

My first surfboard brand was under the Surf4Earth umbrella, known as Surf4Earth Eco Boards.

Nowadays, the Surf4Earth Eco Boards has evolved into Nala.

Do you find that the most challenging thing about selling eco boards is the general surf public’s misconceptions about performance and price?

For sure that’s been the biggest challenge actually, the education aspect of it. There’s this idea that eco-boards won’t perform as good and they won’t last as long. Everybody has these preconceived notions about the boards.

But… now I’ve been surfing my own eco-boards for almost 6 years now, and each time I jump onto a standard PU board, which is very rarely, I’m like “I don’t like this. This isn’t so great”.

So that’s just been one of the biggest challenges — creating that educational awareness within the surfing industry here in South Africa that these eco boards perform as well, if not better than a lot of the standard PU boards. Obviously, they’re a lot more environmentally responsible too.

Another huge benefit of eco-boards is that they last quite a bit longer than a standard PU board.

They’re a lot more ding resistant and pressure mark resistant. I’ve been surfing for 2 and a half years now and I’m pretty heavy footed and I’m quite a big guy. I have an eco board here and there’s not one pressure ding or pressure mark on it.

Nala eco board and a surfer about to paddle out.

How is the South African market for eco-boards?

South Africa is about 5 to 10 years behind other first-world markets like Portugal, Europe, the States or Australia. We’re lagging behind somewhat.

However, I have faith that within the next 10 years, a significant portion of South Africa’s surf industry will start shifting towards a more sustainable direction.

I’m excited to keep pushing forward until that happens.

Are there any features of your boards that you’re really proud of?

Yes, and I’ve got a bunch of exciting developments I still want to implement into our Nala boards!

Currently, we’re using fully recycled EPS blanks and giving old blanks a second life. We also use flax linen instead of fibreglass cloth because it has a very low CO2 footprint in both its production and growing processes. It also offers great flexibility, pressure resistance and is lightweight yet strong.

Our blanks are stringerless, but we use carbon strips or basalt carbon strips for reinforcement. We also utilise an epoxy bio-resin with 30-40% bio-content.

Additionally, we use Turkish walnut for leash plugs, moving away from plastic ones. We’re also conducting R&D on wooden fin boxes, which has proven to be quite a challenge.

Nala eco board leaning up against a bush in South Africa.

Do you think it’s possible to build a surfboard that’s 100% natural yet still high-performance?

I’m busy working on it! We’re testing a product called Hemp-Celium. We’ve made a few prototypes with limited success, but we’re getting there.

What we do is we create a 3D printed frame of a surfboard using a cornstarch-based plastic. Instead of leaving the cavities hollow, we fill them with hemp shavings from the main stalk of the hemp plant.

We then populate these cavities with mycelium spores, which bond to the hemp shavings and grow, essentially creating a foam blank.

This fills the cavities, resulting in a surfboard blank that we can shape as desired. Finally, we cover it with flax linen and epoxy resin.

That’s insane. You’re the mad scientist of board construction. What about trying to keep things as local as possible in order to avoid the environmental impact of transportation? Do you think that more brands should prioritise this aspect?


I believe buying local is one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable purchasing options available. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

For instance, last year, I was approached by someone in the UK who wanted to bring Nala to their market. I saw it as an epic opportunity, but it didn’t happen because he couldn’t meet our requirements.

This situation put me in a moral dilemma. Should I fill a container with boards and ship them over, despite the significant CO2 emissions associated with shipping?

While expanding into the UK market would be fantastic and profitable, I had to consider whether it aligned with the brand’s moral ethos. In the end, I chose to continue prioritising local and sustainable practices.

Daniel Patrick from Surf 4 Earth leading a breathwork course.

Right on. With so much going on, how do keep your head above water?

As an entrepreneur, you’re often juggling multiple roles like sales, marketing and management.

Many get overly focused on one aspect, neglecting others. My strategy is to segment my day, dedicating specific time slots to each task — sales, marketing, outreach, emails, etc. I spend two hours on each task, then move on.

Time management and task allocation have been my biggest challenges and learnings. It’s important to be fluid because unexpected priorities, like a marketing call, can arise.

Stretching on the mat.

I think it’s also important to find what works for you too, right?


Before we finish up, can you tell me more about Tidal Trip? What do you hope to accomplish through it?

One of our biggest goals with Tidal Trip is to create a platform that supports small, home-owned surf camps, scuba diving camps and similar businesses.

We aim to provide them with a broader reach and greater exposure without requiring them to invest in building their own website or a booking platform. Our platform will help these smaller operations gain visibility in the ocean adventure industry without using up their precious capital on development costs that might not guarantee a return.

Essentially, it’s all about supporting small surf camps and similar businesses, without touching the more commercialised ones. We’re all about creating stoke within the ocean adventure travel industry and providing the smaller surf camps, scuba diving camps and lodges with a chance to extend their reach into the industry.

Tidal trip website design.

All sounds good! I feel super motivated after this chat. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me, Daniel.

Epic, bro… thanks so much.