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Sebastian on board with new design

August 17, 2021

Bachelor of Business student Sebastian Fergusson has redesigned the traditional surf lifesaving paddle board. PICTURE: Cavan Flynn

Sebastian Fergusson has two goals – to save lives, and grow the sport he loves.

The second-year student at Bond University on the Gold Coast is juggling his Bachelor of Business obligations alongside his mission to redesign the traditional surf lifesaving rescue paddle board.

Mr Fergusson, who has been competing in surf lifesaving since the age of seven, said he hoped to optimise three aspects of the paddle board: speed, stability, and strength.

“We’re looking at hydrodynamic testing for the speed aspect of it, where we can create areas of lift and decrease areas of drag.

“For stability we’re playing with the shape, changing what has been done traditionally and adding our new spin, that’s what we’ve been testing, a few prototypes.

“Strength is material research, typically it’s been carbon fibres or fibreglass with epoxy, so it’s like an eggshell build, you’ve got foam on the inside, and everything’s wrapped around with a final gel coat. Further down the track we’d love to have some sustainability elements, so reusable materials.”

He said he was motivated to make a difference both for surf lifesavers hoping to save lives, and for those using the paddle boards to compete in surf lifesaving as a sport.

“The idea is to gather all the research so we can create these rescue boards, then what it creates is fitter, faster, stronger lifeguards…everyone who races in surf lifesaving must commit to volunteer lifeguarding, so we’re helping people at the end of the day, one way or another.

“It’s surf lifesaving giving back to the other, and vice versa, so the lifesaving part helps the racing, and the racing helps the lifesaving.”

New Zealand-born Mr Fergusson has been working with Bond’s Transformer entrepreneurship program and is hopeful of also learning from the program’s recently-announced Founder-in-Residence, Stuart Giles, as he looks to grow his business.

“The current goal is to tackle the lifesaving aspect of it, getting our boards on beaches so we can help save lives and that’s across Australia first, I’d love to go to New Zealand second, with it being my home, and then try to get out internationally.

“In terms of surf lifesaving the sport, we use rescue board or paddle boards for ironman racing, we’d really like to help the sport grow, and become much larger. Helping create faster, more stable, stronger racing boards, is a huge part of that.”

Mr Fergusson, who himself competes as a surf lifesaver out of the Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park Surf Lifesaving Club, said he had taken on feedback from the local surfing community when considering how to redesign the board.

Mr Fergusson won the Transformer Launch Pad entrepreneurship competition last year, which provided him with the funding to properly launch the rescue paddle board research process.