UNEEK Ambassador Focus: Julian ‘Yoshi’ van Vliet

“I was the guy who was crazy enough to…”

Julian van Vliet could think of many ways how to complete this sentence to describe his story, for example building sustainable custom surfboards in a place not exactly known for its world-class waves.

Spending his youth in Scheveningen, Netherlands, Julian (or Yoshi as he is known to his friends) literally grew up on the beach. Whilst other kids his age were playing football or field hockey, Yoshi had mastered his other passions: surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding—and all before reaching the age of 10. Together with his mother, brothers and sister, Yoshi spent his holidays travelling around Europe in search for waves or snow, and as a result became one of the only a few Dutch snowboarding semi-pros.

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Yoshi later focused on his studies to broaden his horizon. Rather than striving to become the best at his sports, his interests turned towards subjects such as Water and Material Management and Industrial Ecology. During this time he also started his first small business, DingDoctor at the F.A.S.T. Surf Village, repairing the boards within the local surf scene.

During his surf trips around the world Yoshi realized that he wanted to make a difference. By combining his two main passions, sustainability and making surfboards, he was confident he could make better surfboards using less toxic materials. And JY Surf was born.

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Today he is proud to say, “Our boards are made from 100% bio based materials including the foam core, fibres and epoxy. By using our latest technology, boards can be fully recycled and do not cause harm for the environment we use them in. The next step we would like to take is using solar panels to supply renewable energy for our production facility.”

Challenging the industry’s norms and making an impact within it is important to Yoshi. “I think it is time to look for alternatives, especially when it comes down to surfboard production systems.”

Yoshi however is realistic and knows that it’s not a walk in the park to defy the conventions of the surfboard construction, his example being, “Traditionally made surfboards without any specific design come in a white colour due to the colour of fibreglass used, while experimenting with sustainable alternatives made of linen result in a brownish colour to the finished board which looks unusual to most of my customers.” Therefore constant persuasion is necessary. Without a doubt Yoshi will have many unique ways to complete the sentence “I was the guy who was crazy enough to…”

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