Spotlight | IWC Ambassador Hayden Cox

Published 7 May 2020

IWC Ambassador Hayden Cox

From the archives of the IWC Journal we take a look at a recent Interview with Australian surfboard designer, Hayden Cox, gaining a glimpse into his vision for sustainability and tackling innovative solutions for manufacturing quality products that stand the test of time.

Original Interview by Sarah Davies De Paola. Photography courtesy of IWC Schaffhausen.



SD: You hail from a lineage of resourceful creators with a strong build-it-yourself ethos. As someone who pushes the envelope when it comes to innovation and design, how important are heritage and tradition?

HC: My family just had that “do it yourself, work hard” mentality. We didn’t grow up surrounded by expensive or materialistic things so I really learned to value experiences as the greatest luxury. That’s why I really connected with surfing from such a young age. Now that I have kids of my own, I want to instil those same values. Hopefully they are into surfing, but if not, that’s ok too.

SD: Though a precision-orientated person, you seem driven by pure passion rather than marketing or sales goals. What’s allowed you to create an industry-leading business out of your passion?

HC: I’ve always believed that product is key – especially if your goals are for the long term. If you can create something special that people truly connect with and talk about, you set yourself up for a healthy base to grow and innovate from. Word of mouth will always be the strongest form of marketing. If you are focussing on the product and design, you start to see opportunities to innovate. Once you get the product right, then comes distribution and making it accessible for more people to buy and experience it.

SD: As an IWC brand ambassador you’ve toured the factory floor in Schaffhausen and been inspired by IWC’s approach to waste minimisation and upcycling. Tell us about the changes to your surfboard manufacturing process that this visit catalysed? 

HC: That was a cool trip. I got to see first hand interesting ways that IWC would collect their waste, particularly metals, and up-cycle it back into their product. With this influence, I not only wanted to up-cycle waste but I wanted to put it back into the board somehow vs sending it off elsewhere. I know that on average there’s over 30% wastage industry wide in just foam and fibreglass alone when creating a single board which typically just goes straight to landfill.

I’ve been working on developing an upcycled waste cloth with Colan Australia that’s created from chopped carbon fiber and fiber glass offcuts that are woven into a new fabric. The idea is to finesse it from a performance and manufacturing standpoint and make it available to the wider industry. My opinion is that eco materials and practises should be shared far and wide and that’s my goal with this.

SD: Living in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, you’re witnessing first-hand the impact of climate change with catastrophic bush fires. As a community strongly connected to nature and its tides, how can surfers and the surfing industry better support sustainability and the impact of humans on the environment?

HC: Firstly, we have created a global fundraiser right here. There’s a pretty epic prize pool attached and 100% of the funds raised will go towards to impacts of the devastation to the Australian wildlife during the fires wiping out what’s estimated to be 500 million animals. Look, it’s been a really tough time. Right now the entire country is waking up each day feeling overwhelmed and sick by what is happening to our beautiful home.

We need to put pressure on the government to not only recognise the scientific facts of climate change, but actually take action in how we are better going to set up both Australia and worlds future in a way that makes impact. Change needs to happen. How many more signs and presented facts do we need?

As for the surf industry and consumers, it’s a matter of educating yourself and starting somewhere. Overconsumption is an issue in my opinion. Build products that last longer so consumers buy less (YES. BUY LESS.), improve materials, reduce wastage and look for greener solutions across the board – solar, up-cycling. Focus your product development on a greener future. I have 2 young children who’ve basically spent the last 3 months inside due to toxic air caused by the bushfire smoke burning miles away. If these fires aren’t telling us all to wake up and make change, what will?

For the full interview, visit

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