A young Caymanian who has been garnering attention for his creative skills recently won a second award from Vissla for his sustainable surfing designs.

Last year, West Bay native Danny Link placed second in the Under 16 category in an “upcycle” contest held by the Vissla surf products company that sought creative, sustainable designs for surf products.

Vissla is a member of the Surf Industry Coastal Defenders program, a group that supports the Surfrider Foundation’s mission to protect and enjoy oceans, waves and beaches.

Danny’s design of a hand plane, a small device for bodysurfers to carve waves, won praise for is appearance and use of recycled wine box materials.

This year, Danny’s latest design, a wakeboard made out of shipping pallets, won him second place in the 16 and Under category, and a return invitation to the awards exhibition in California.

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“I got involved with this project and the contest about a year ago,” said Danny, a student at St. Andrew’s College in Canada who previously attended Cayman Prep.

He is an avid surfer and water sports lover who used to go wakeboarding with his friends every day after school, or surf every chance he got. He says he appreciates the Cayman lifestyle more than ever now that he’s going to school in Canada.

“I was already designing and making water craft out of some old wood from my grandfather’s shed, so when this contest came up, I thought ‘This is perfect, because it already fits in with what I was doing.’ I’m interested in art and design when it comes to things do to with the water and surfing,” he said.

He has been experimenting with woodworking since he was young, and feels at home around a workshop.

Danny recently gained some local attention for lifestyle videos he was making for fun with his friend Ben Woodford, which turned into a summer internship with Dart.

Later on, he came across the Vissla contest and decided to enter.

“The contest was run and entries were submitted on Instagram, so when they posted an ad for it, I thought that it would be fun and worth giving it a try,” said Danny.

The contest called for entrants to upcycle an old or found object into a functional wave riding craft like a surfboard, handplane, fin, skim board or boat.

All contestants were required to enter a video or several photographs showing their project from start to finish via Instagram. Four finalists in two categories – 16 and Under and Open Divisions – were selected and asked to send in their projects for verification and final voting. Finalists were awarded prizes and invited to a show on Oct. 28 at Interval Gallery in San Clemente, California.

Danny explained that for his first design, before the contest last year, he was experimenting using wine boxes to make fins for some boards he was making, as well as hand planes.

“When I found out about the contest, I only had two weeks left before I left for school, so I decided to make a hand plane out of some of the wine box,” Danny explained, noting a hand plane is basically a mini surfboard that goes on your hand for body surfing. He submitted this to Instagram in four pictures, and Vissla contacted him about a week later by email to get further information.

“Going to San Clemente was probably one of the best experiences I have had,” he said. “The city alone was pretty cool and the surf culture there was booming, and they loved their tuna. That was definitely a plus.

“At the competition, I met a lot of my role models that run the surfboard shaping industry. I also had the chance to meet a few professional surfers.”

“I am really happy with some wakeboards that I have made, and when I go out with my friends, I normally bring one along and end up using that more that my normal one,” he said.

“This year, I decided to make a wakeboard out of shipping pallets. It has an asymmetrical design so basically one side has more rail and more volume than the other to make edging out easier and to make cutting in faster.

“It has four fins glassed onto the back, all made out of some scrap wine box. Last year, I wanted to submit a design like this but the ones that I had already made I forgot to document the build, so I was pretty happy to get the chance to try and do that again this year.”

Once again, he was invited to California, and his work was displayed alongside that of professional designers, and he met some prominent surfing personalities.

“I love what I do. It’s fun, and I am just excited about what my next project will be,” he said.

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