Other than balsa wood, paulownia wood is the lightest known timber. Native to Southeast Asia, paulownia wood comes from sustainable plantations. It is the fastest growing hardwood in the world.

Paulownia wood is the primary wood that Skidmore ’90, George Yatrakis, uses to build his Alaia surfboards. Yatrakis is the artist, builder and founder behind the recently started business, Pacifica Surfboards.

“If it is not paulownia wood, the wood is from trees naturally fallen,” Yatrakis said. —Occasionally I use reclaimed or sustainably harvested redwood.”

Many surfboards have a polyurethane foam core. Yatrakis keeps his surfboards very “green.”

“I don’t use polyurethane for a finish, I use penetrating oils,” Yatrakis said. “When I shape them, I use the leftover shavings to make compost because it is simply wood. And these boards will not turn into landfill. If one of these boards is left outside, in a few years it will decompose and the worms will eat it.”

“All of this started as an artistic idea,” Yatrakis continued. “I love woodworking and a surfboard in itself can be a great canvas for art. Last winter I thought how cool it would be to make a surfboard evolving from a rough piece of wood. It was then I discovered Alaia surfboards.”