A SURF wax designed to deter sharks is preparing for sea trials as its inventor launches a crowdfunding campaign to help keep the project afloat.
Neil Campbell’s Chillax Surf Wax includes natural ingredients such as cloves, cayenne pepper, neem, tea tree oil, citronella that are known to repel other creatures such as mosquitoes and grizzly bears.
Campbell has been selling the pungent wax at local markets in South Australia and marketing them on social media but is looking to the scientific tests to prove their value in an ocean environment.
He said he had applied for a $40,000 grant towards the testing through the South Australian Government’s Innovation Voucher Program, which was awaiting approval.
The crowdfunding campaign runs until late October and aims to raise the remaining $22,000 needed to pay for the tests through Southern Shark Ecology Group research lab at Flinders University. The tests will be conducted by renowned shark researcher Dr Charlie Huveneers.
“There’s a window in late October but November is looking more likely now,” the Common Sense Surf Company Director said.
“The trials will make the product viable. The trickle of sales we’ve had online and at local markets will multiply because everyone is requesting proof and they are entitled to have an answer.”
Campbell said the trials would be conducted off of South Australia’s Neptune Islands – one of the world’s most notorious great white shark regions – with two trips over a five-day period.
He said the tests would likely involve floating baits on objects with and without a Chillax coating in a surf wax type of way.
“It will be extensive and thorough as well as registering the reaction of sharks both underwater and above using cameras and so forth,” Campbell said.
“Then we can attach the word deterrent to the product, which I’m passionately convinced it is.
“Chillax is only meant to be a base for a repellent. I want to develop a wax with necromone in it that sharks will flee from. At this stage we’re just trying to prove that there is something to not smelling like shark food.
“I think it’s a great idea and think we’re going to prove it.”
Campbell said a lot of surf shops around Australia knew about the wax and were waiting for the test results before pushing the product.
“If it works we have a simple answer - it’s not the whole answer but it’s part of it,” he said.
“This is just the beginning of summer and I can’t wait to get this product out to them.
“So touch wood, I will use the positive results off the Neptune to springboard this product into places where sharks are a problem. I want to get the product to where it’s needed most.”
Campbell is looking for an angel investor to come on board to help grow the business.
He will be among hundreds of entrepreneurs at next week’s Icebreaker 16 speed networking event in Adelaide. The Flinders University event will be held in the Tonsley Innovation District - Australia’s first innovation hub.
“What I want a potential investor to understand is that we’re not just talking about surf wax, I want to push into sunscreen and other related products,” Campbell said.