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The racquet that will make you green - but not just with envy!
A racquet that blends nature with carbon to offer the ultimate in comfort
Posted Jan 25, 2012 by Equipment News
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Carbon is the material of choice when it comes to modern tennis racquets but one Canadian mechanical engineer says this compromises on comfort.His idea is to build a far greener alternative. Benoit Balmana from Montreal is fusing flax fibres with the usual carbon fibres in order to develop a racquet that is both eco-friendly and apparently elbow friendly!
A pretty admirable goal and to be honest it surprises me that one of the major racquet manufacturers hasn’t tried harder to develop a more environmentally friendly racquet before – if they have, this innovation certainly passed me by, I suspect that some of the reluctance is probably down to the resulting loss of power.
The secret appears to be in the blend because Balmana concedes that carbon adds power to racquets but flax fibre is less rigid than carbon which means it is better at absorbing shock and vibrations, taking some of the strain that your elbow otherwise would. This combination could really be a significant step forward in racquet technology.
Dubbed the Origine, it is the first in a planned range of sporting goods to be made from this flex/carbon blend.
It took Balmana considerable time to get the configuration just right and the engineer says you’ll never be able to completely replace the carbon fibres that give the racquet its strength because flax alone wouldn’t give the required turgidity but Balmana also points out that the Origine uses less carbon and with flax fibres being from a fully renewable source, the racquet is incredibly friendly to the environment.
Group Origine, the company established to market the new range of sporting goods that Balmana has conceived will have the tagline ‘powerful by nature’ - a very fitting motto for a company that is driving innovation in a market which has been a fairly fixed format for some time.
Testers that have been lucky enough to get their hands on the Origine already, say that the racquet could do with a power boost but the comfort of the racquet certainly makes up for this and many say the levels of comfort and softness are almost unrivalled.
Cosmetically, it has been described as a little bland and unlikely to blow anyone off the baseline. On that basis, I think uptake by competitive players is likely to be slow or non-existent.
The Origine is targeted more at players who do value performance but are more concerned with comfort and the environmental impact of their purchases. Sport is one of those areas that has been slow on the uptake when it comes to environmental issues and this I think is down to the fact that professionals are unwilling to compromise performance for eco-friendliness which I think is completely justified.
If the Origine can prove itself then it could well become a mainstream racquet because it seems to combine some of the usual power with the added benefit of comfort and the icing on the cake being the fact it is made from renewable, natural materials.
The Origine will retail at $139 and is available from the Origine website or via a distributor when it comes to the UK in the near future.