Thursday, July 09, 2015

Meyerhoffer mark 1 - 9'2" Longboard

I was on the lookout for a cheap light epoxy longboard for myself for travel and for my youngest daughter to learn on. I picked up a Meyerhoffer 9'2" in a surfshop in poor condition for a good price.

The board looks downright weird and is marketed as a high performance longboard that rides like a shortboard. The construction is SLX epoxy which I think is Bi-directional glass over 2lb polystyrene EPS with a 3/8" wooden stringer. The epoxy is pigmented white which makes repairs pretty invisible and the will also resist browning. It repaired quite easily. I had the board out in 2m, 15second swell and took a few lips full on, so it seems a solid board to me.

There are two unusual features to this board. Firstly there is an incut in the center of theboard which gives the board a waist. Secondly the tail width accelerates to nothing from the fins back.

On the plus side, unusually for a longboard it will tuck neatly under the arm of a person from 5'2" up and its reasonably light. That was my favourite feature of the board

My first day out, I kept falling off the board. I normally pop up and start to turn from toward the center of the board. This board does not like that and will behave unpredictably if you do this. I eventually found the middle of the board is unusable for riding and is only a bridge to move between the front and tail of the board. With this board you have to pop up and keep the widest part of the bottom portion of the board between your feet.
Once you can do this it really takes off and is surprisingly agile, reacting to drive and pumps. I found it pretty easy to do floaters and radical direction changes.

I'm not sure what the numbers on nose rocker are but I found it wasn't enough I was pearling on hollow drops I would normally make on the McTavish.

I also found the tail weird. Normally I can noseride a while, then if the waves hollows out I can walk quickly to the back of the board to turn. Not on this board - every time I tried it I came off the back.

In smaller waves it caught them easily and you could noseride it equally as good as any other performance longboard.

In fairness, the board does what it promises "hard turns off the tail" and it does that very well, providing you are standing with the bump between your feet. Ultimately it was not my cup of tea, I can do the hard turns without having to compromise midboard performance, its a bit like a bike with training wheels. I would think that this board would suit people who only ever ride meyerhoffer longboards and are tuned into them. If you want to interchange boards with standard longboards its too radical a change in style, one which I could not master. I swopped this board after 3 months for a McTavish Fireball, which was pure bliss first ride.

Solid construction, easily repaired, light and comfortable but a one trick pony.
Rating 3.5/5

Saturday, October 13, 2012

6'0" Astron Zot

6 X 22 X 3 Well a lot of people have been asking me about this given the big claims Geoff McCoy makes about this board and the mixed reaction people have had with the Zot. First off I will say that the bigger  single fin 8'1 nugget really turned me onto the lines a single fin can take and its loseness on a wave.

My first Zot was a 6'4" and it took me about 6 months before I felt I was doing it Justice. I felt for a long time it wasn't taking off and was bogging a bit. After a while I realised that while the nuggets are happy if you pop up and keep all your weight on your back foot, the Zot likes you to drive down the wave face with front foot pressure. SO it was back to the gym and practising pop-ups so that my front foot landed between my hands. Once I had that figured the board took off - literally

This board is the best board I have ever ridden.

Paddling firstly, There is a lot of volume in a very small board and with a single fin it is drag free almost. I suspect that the rocker is a lot different in the Zot either flatter or more distributed than a nugget. So it paddles really easily for all those reasons and catches waves with just a few strokes or in some cases no strokes.

Once up and running when you hit the bottom and put her on a rail it just drives then pick you spot you want to turn and hit it. the turns are so smooth and effortless and the board retains its speed all the way through. In a wave with any shape to it even waist high it will crank out continuous turns. ITs ok in mush also in the smaller versions where you can pump it for extra speed, although other options such as a light thruster may do better in those conditions.

In hollow waves it just comes to its own. I just pop up and grab a rail and pigdog the board just locks in on the perfect line. I have never found so many barrels in places I didn't know they  even existed. The fantastic thing about the single fin is that right from the pop-up you can change your line with no loss of control.

Bottom line, this is a fantastic board, for me and my style of surfing and it may not suit everyone. I would say the size of the board is important for best results and for me at 5'8" the 6'0" board is better  than  the 6'4" version. It also take a bit of time to to fully adapt to the Zot, 6 months in my case.

This is such an unusual board it probably merits a few comments from other zot users to help someone decide to make the investment. For me its the best board ever, by a mile.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, October 12, 2012

8'1 Nugget Single fin

8'1" X 21 3/14 X 3 1/4. I had a few bucks in my pocket from the sale of a rusty thruster  and this comes up for sale near me this week. Karma or what. A pretty rare board here. I was always curious about single fin nuggets and I was stoke to get the opportunity to try one for a 1/4 of what downTheline surf shop would charge me for one. First off like most mccoys this board had tons of nose rocker and is  very much shortboard based in planshape rather than being close to a longboard. As such it does not have a whole lot going for it in fat waves other than its volume. Maybe the same can be said about longboards also. However once you get a bit of shape and size, this board is absolutely incredible.

First off the single fin setup showed me a completely new perspective on wave riding.  When you take the drop on a good wave on this board it just locks into the curl of the wave as if to say "Well what do you want to do now?". In a thruster it would already be driving up the face. so sitting in the curl you can just cruise, right there in the pocket and it will hold the perfect line or put her on a rail and destroy the lip. On a decent wave it becomes such a loose board with incredible hold and really feels like a much smaller high performance board. On a tubing wave there is no better board.

It does like a nice shaped wave to show it's true potential. If you are an older or heavier surfer who can still do the moves if only you can get a wave you will love this board.

Rating 5/5 Incredible.

6'8" Firewire Dominator

6'8" X 21.8" X 3"I bought this board trying to find a board which would react faster to pumping down the line than my mccoys for fast breaking waves. it similar to a nugget shape so I thought I'd find the transition easy. This one was FST technology, a pvc foam composite sandwich over eps. It has the standard firewire balsa rails. Fin setup is quad or thruster, I rode it with M5's. I rode this board a fair bit. I found it rides very different to the mccoy. It has a flatter rocker for a start, concaves and thin rails. It paddles great due to the volume and flat rocker, better than a mccoy. It also handled mush and fat waves really well. because theboard is light you can pump the crap out of it and get a but of momentum going on fat waves. However it resists turning compared to a mccoy, not half as smooth or balanced. I think the distribution of volume (foil) is all wrong. It would be a great board if the volume in front of the front foot was reduced and a little more volume added to the tail. Durability wise its pretty good, I took it on my winter trip to morocco and it survived being kneeled on when the driver was tying the boards to the roof of the bus with a rope.

Rating 3.5/5 Good board but could be a lot better if the foil was changed.

6'4" McCoy Nugget

6'4" X 20 1/2 X 3. This was an old 1996 nugget I picked up, it had the  Formula 1 loaded dome sticker. Its a thruster with glass on fins. I really liked this board it surfed great turned smooth, faster than the 6'8 nugget and had lots of drive. It had loads of rocker and so could handle anything you throw at it. It probably surfs closer to a regular shortboard than the more modern nuggets. However it is not as forgiving or as easy to surf as the more modern version and you probably would need to work a little harder on it.  The one thing I found and its probably common to all nuggets is that in a very fast breaking wave when a regular shortboarder pumps down the line like a raving rabbit to make the wave. I found with this nugget that it didnt react to pumps fast enough to do this as well as I wanted.
Durability, what can I say, 16 years old and the only ding was when It got hit by a golf ball crossing  the dunes in Dougmore after my first surf on it. I had such a big shit eating grin after that session, I couldn't even get cross.

Rating 4/5. Pick one up if you get the opportunity

6'2" Firewire Kingfish

6'2" x 21 1/2" x 2 3/4"     VOLUME: 41.3. I picked up this board because I missed having a twin keel fish in my quiver. This one is FST technology, basically a PVC foam sandwich composite board with Balsa rails and probably 1lb EPS core as it has a vent. The fin setup is standard twin keel fins but unusally with only 2 fcs plugs which seem to hold the fins fine. I like fish for fast down the line waves where you don't turn too much. Those big swallow tails really resist turning unless the board is tiny for you. In a down the line wave I like a shortboard and the big keel fins of a fish tap into the power of the wave creating incredible speed. The rails on this are pretty thin in order to make the make the balsa rails flex enough. The board is pretty light probably close to a standard construction PU shortboard. It seems pretty durable, had a couple of small dings which I fixed immediately using epoxy. If you ding one of these in the water, get out immediately, it will suck the water in and destroy the board pretty quickly. very few compressions on teh deck a couple of years on.

My first go on this board it felt funny, so much volume up front very different to the pavel trad fish when paddling. When I took off it really flew, very very fast. As i'm an active surfer and I will pump the board and drive it rail to rail, I really liked this board and will definitely keep it as part of my quiver.

Rating 5/5 does exactly what a twin keel should do, only better!

6'2" McCoy Stumpy

This board is 6'2" X 20 1/4 X 3. It's a stumpy nugget, the blurb says made for high performance surfing. On holiday in Biarritz in France, I surfed one day with a guy in shoulder high waves who was tearing he place apart, not a normal choppy agressive shortboard style but smooth and fast and fitting in an amazing amount of turns. That was my first time seeing that and immediately I knew that style was my goal, though that lad was 20 years younger than me. I ordered this board after an exchange of e-mails with Geoff. The 6 months wait to get it via the UK was a killer, and it cost me a packet.

When it arrived It was just gorgeous with this massive tail and glassed on thrusters. I spent a lot of time riding this board as my main driver, at least a year and to be honest I could never get it to deliver the goods. It paddled great but was very unstable on the pop up. It did manage to deliver flashes of brilliance in fast turns in small spaces but only when the wave was smallish and quite sucky/walling. I would not rate this as an all round board I think its very much a niche board for very clean waves.

As a comparison I have a 6'0 Zot and a home build 6'2" laser zap I would rate them both way faster looser and more radical than the Stumpy - Sorry Geoff!

Board build as you would expect is next to none. When I passed it on there were very few marks after a lot of use.

Rating 3.5/5

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Hot Buttered Slam Fish

6'4" X 20 3/4 X 2 1/2
I picked this board up really cheap on a trip to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. The shop price was €280 new. The shop had loads of interesting hot Buttered boards, the label run by Terry Fitzgerald, at good prices. The plan shape was interesting to me with good width and volume right through, but with a really pulled in tail.

Its very much a shortboarders summer fish, made to be surfed rail to rail in small waves. The interesting thing about the board was the sticker "Proudly made in China". I'm told the factory is on the surf coast of China and some of the workers actually surf.

In fairness HB put this up front and their shop prices reflect the reduced cost base. The do make some sweet looking boards I would love to have a go on, particularly wood laminates.
Back to the board. The board is glassed to the usual shortboard standard so the deck dents pretty quick. The foil of the board is also like the standard shortboard but with boxy rails, so most of the float is coming from the width of the board.

My first ride on this board was in tiny waves, just getting in for a paddle about. To my surprise it caught all the little waves pretty easily. I found the the narrow tail was just not suited to my style having ridden wide tailed thrusters, I kept overpowering the tail and bogging the board. I decided quite quickly that the board was not for me and that probably it had a limited rider profile. Firstly the rider should be a competent shortboarder and secondly they should not be too backfoot heavy. I don't feel that this is a board that anybody can pick up and surf well from the off. You probably could if you spend a lot of time on it and you will adjust your stance and style to it, but for me a traditional fish is enough to get me from ankle slappers to shoulder high when I can ride a shortboard.

Recommended for a shortboarder looking for summer fun, for everyone else there are better options.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Monday, February 28, 2011

McTavish Fireball

9’2 X 22 ½ X 3”

I had been looking for a general purpose longboard for quite a while, something that could nose ride a bit and still surf off the tail. Among my friends the fireball was a really popular board. Between them I know that the fireball had been ridden comfortably at over double overhead however I was aware that they could noseride really well. I had tried a friends 9”6” with a greenough 9” single fin in small waves and it rode really really well off the nose.

I picked up a 9’2” model in “well used” condition and it came with a greenough stage 4 fin. I was really surprised at the amount of foam packed into the board. The nose, rail and tail are quite thick and not overly foiled out like pure performance longboards. Saying that The Australian longboard championships were won on a fireball some years ago.

The blurb on the McTavish website describes the board as follows:

“Big waves, small waves, beach breaks and point breaks – performance is guaranteed in all conditions. The Fireball has a loaded double concave tail for quick turns, a deep nose concave for stable noserides, and bevels up front for a stable walking platform. Whatever your skill level, weather you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, we can customise a Fireball to suit your specific needs

I have known beginners buy this board and subsequently didn’t like it. I’m not too sure why. Initially I rode this board with the single fin and I didn’t really like it too much, even though I did like the 9’6” with the same fin, however I had been riding thrusters a lot.

So looking at the options I decided to go quite thruster like with the fin configuration. I went with a rusty 6.5” TK flex fin with small FCS H-2 as side bites. Wow this made the board come alive. I know some people don’t like to see longboards ridden performance style but there is something satisfying about slamming 8ft of board out the back of the wave as you bring it around. The board really surfs insane allowing you to do the big off the lips and reo’s with ease even in small waves. At the same time it still nose rides pretty good.

In summary it really is the ultimate all round longboard for mixed surfing. Note this was an Australian made board in standard construction and performance may not be comparable on the SLX or thai made boards.

Rating: 5/5 as an allround longboard for the intermediate to expert rider.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Takayama DT-1 9'2"X22X2 7/8"

I bought this board for the big winter swell at a local beach, you have to catch the waves a long way out the back when they are fat and be in position as it hits the outside sand bar then pull out before it hits the inside bar and closes out. The first day I tried this board it was close to double over head, I stroked into the first wave and popped up as it jacked up. The drop felt so smoooth and controlled, this board was made for big waves and it handles them with ease.

The board comes with a 2+1 fin set up and I found it easy to pump the board for speed. You can also go pretty vertical on this board, and I layed down one of my best ever square bottom turns into a vertical re-entry on her.

When you have buckets of speed it noserides well on a hollow wall. I managed some solid hang 10's in vertical head high + faces.

In small waves it is a bit sluggish, and I would not consider it a general purpose longboard, there are better options out there. But if you have a quiver of longboards and you want a big wave board, then this is the one.

It is built quite heavy which is good for big waves and strong offshores as it maintains it's momentum once at paddling speed.

All in all a lovely big wave board.

Rating: 5/5 I does exactly what it says on the tin, handles size with control and agility

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

6'8" McCoy Nugget

Size: 6'8" X 21 1/4 X 3 1/8"

I had heard some very good things about Geoff McCoys nuggets over the years. Coming from Australia they are difficult to come by in Europe and the U.S. The one thing that struck me was that nugget owners were absolute converts to the shape. When got a batch of nuggets in I was intrigued enough to fork out a substantial sum for one. At the time I was happy that my Bonzers gave me what I needed in walling and hollow conditions and my fish fitted the bill perfectly for fat but well shaped waves. However most of my surfing is done in onshore or less than perfect conditions and I felt that there was a substantial gap in my quiver. As you can see I have tried lots of boards to fill this gap.

I e-mailed Geoff for a recommendation on size and he suggested a 6’6” for my 78Kg.

Unfortunately the 6’6” sold out in a few days and the closest I could get was a 6’8”.

The board is 6’8” X 21 ¼ X 3 1/8. Downthelinesurf provided a good service and in a couple of days it was shipped over safe and sound. When I opened the box I was shocked. The tail on this board is MASSIVE like nothing I had ever seen before. I was truly shocked. The board is a lovely clean shape, perfect glass job and spray. The fins are white glassed on. The board is quite heavy, I don’t know the glass schedule, I imagine 6+6+6. I guess the foam is Australian, Bennett or Burford. It’s a heavier pour and incredibly ding resistant. Bottom contours are very different, there is significant roll through the entry rocker slackening off to a flat planning area under your front foot leading into the fins with significant roll through the fins and off the tail. This is the McCoy Loaded Dome. Totally neutral and forgiving performance.

The first night I took it down to the beach it was 1-2ft onshore crap and crowded. At first I couldn’t even sit on the board, there was so much float I kept falling off. I kept looking at the tail and think how can I turn this board with all that width. The first couple of crappy little waves it felt downright weird. I was in the midst of a bunch of groms who were paddling for everything. Eventually a half decent wave came through. I picked it up before the groms in a couple of strokes. It started to shape up a bit and I pumped down the line for more speed, the wave shaped up and developed a nice little pocket. Three big backhand snaps later I was halfway across the bay. When I paddled back out the groms were silenced jaws agape. Definitely the wave of the night. The board did everything I wanted to do with no resistance or tracking in any way.

Four months later I have ridden it at least 50 times from 1ft onshore beachies to head and a half reefs. It handles everything you can throw at it, even better it is totally forgiving in the way it surfs. You can pop up too far forward and still make the drop, when the waves get fat you can trim from the flat spot in the middle. It will do anything in terms of performance you want to do, I am certainly not capable of finding the limits of this board. Floaters, re-entries, off the lips, cutbacks it handles them all with absolute control. The first few re-entries were a little sketchy as I wasn’t keeping my back foot over the fins, But the nugget cured that bad habit very quickly.

I was initially sceptical about all the foam in these boards, but it actually helps you surf better and is no hinderance. It has taken 10 years off my surfing. Paddling is no longer ever an issue and the session is all about the manoeuvres. At my local I’m out paddling groms and longboarders! I was a little iffy about duck diving as I surf big onshore beach breaks all winter with wall after wall of white water. Well I needn’t have worried. The truth is, you get out the back faster because between the sets you can cover more ground. I do is what I call a bear dive! A duck dive followed by a bear hug. It works.

To sum it up, this board is magic I should really start a new rating because this board is completely off the scale. The best all around board I have ever ridden absolutely amazing. Open you mind and improve your surfing tenfold, buy a genuine Nugget if you can get one. I have a custom 6’2” stumpy model on the way shortly from Geoff.

Rating: 5/5 Outstanding far better than I could ever possibly explain in words.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

6'0" Pavel Classic Fish

Size: 6'0 x 21 1/2" x 2 3/4 Single concave all the way

I have ridden a few fish in my time, from self made versions to Kane garden Classic Fish. I had moved away from them in the past couple of years in favour of my own quad design, which owed little to the classic fish.
I met Rich Pavel a couple of years back and I was really impressed by his boards in the Green Room Shop in San Diego. When Loose-fit got a couple of boards in, I knew I had to have one. They had a 5’10 Micro-wing and a 6’0 Classic fish. I wanted the 5’10, but it sold out fast, so I took the 6’0”.

The board has a green resin tint to lime green bottom. Fins are Lokbox removable Pavel design keel haulers which are double foiled. There are good and bad points in this board. The good is it’s performance. The bad is in the finish. So I’ll go there first. It is a pretty board with green acid splash on the deck to lime tint on the bottom. It looks good, however on micro inspection the laps are not cut as perfectly as you would expect from a California glassing shop such as Moonlight or Channin. I have subsequently been told that it was glassed in the UK. I know Pavel machine shapes most of his boards and does only a small amount of shaping if any. This is par for the course with a big name shaper. I don’t know if he touched this board or it was produced under license, but the deck is quite soft for a classic board with a gloss and polish, which leads me to suspect that it was overshaped by a machine. There are loads of compressions on the deck after a couple of months with a huge one near the tail. The glass job also dings easily.

Now the good points. It’s such a blast to ride. I usually consider fish to be a down the line style ride taking the high line. Well this sucker turns and turns pretty well too. In fact I have been riding it from knee high to overhead and it catches waves easily, paddles great and can really turn. My back hand turns are better than my forehand and this board is well able to take a bucket load of power in a backhand turn without bucking you off. (There is also now a big compression under by backfoot heel). I think that this board will let you surf to what ever level you are capable of and will be well able to keep up the performance(if it lasts long enough). Potentially it’s a one board quiver. A big thumbs up, pity about the glass job.
Rating: 4/5 should be full marks but the glassing let it down

Friday, February 29, 2008

6'10 " Island Style

Size: 6'10" X 19 1/2" X 2 1/2"

This is a glass board shaped by Daniel Thompson under the Island Style label. I'm not sure in what country it was shaped or whare the shaper hails from. I bought it new in Tubes for €400 which is a pretty good price.

The board could be described as a big boy or executive type thruster. It is Polyester/polyurethane traditional style construction. It came with a sanded finish, there are still some scratches where the coarser sandpaper gouged out a furrow which the finer finishing paper didn't clean up. Not too many though. The board was very solidly constructed and felt heavy for it's size. On the other hand after a few months use there was hardly a pressure mark on the deck no dings and not one spider crack. So a definite thumbs up there.

As usual I put in decent glass fins. I mostly rode this board with a John Harris 3dRed tip centre fin. I found that it was a lot more board than I was used to. A bit stiff in the turns due to it's size. Nonetheless it was a very solid predictable ride. The rocker rails and bottom contours seemed just right for the board. I enjoyed this board. I reckon it would just get better the bigger the waves.

Overall a thumbs up for the board, a solid predictable ride if a bit heavy but good value at the price.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Random Flexlite

Size: 6'6" X 18 7/8" X 2 3/8

I picked this Board up in Tubes shop in Cork for a trip to Fuerteventura. It is the same contruction as a surftech, however the deck seemed to dent just as easily as a standard shortboard. A LOT cheaper than a surftech though.

I really didn't like the ride of this board, it felt really dead.I got rid of it as soon as I came back home.

Saying that I know a really good surfer who rides one and really likes it.

Rating: 2/5

6'8" Peter Mel Machine Surftech

Size: 6'8" X 19 1/2" x 2 3/8"

This board is a Surftech. So the comments made in previous posts about Surftech construction and flex apply here also.

I bought this board from the same friend who sold me the 6'4" PMM below.

The shape is a strange blend of dimensions. Its pitched as a step up board from the 6'4". But its not a fat boy (or lazy boy) either. It manages to keep a very subtle blend of volume and high performance curves. The nose rocker is a beautiful progressive curve, I think its about 4 1/2". This type of curve suits my style as a front footed surfer.

As always the first thing was to take out the cheap plastic fins and put in a pair of FCS H2's. My first day out was at my local beach in head high messy conditions. I have always been looking for a board that makes the most of these conditions. Well this is the one. On my first wave the board just flew down the line cranking 3 or 4 really nice smooth turns. I have ridden this board quite a bit and I really like it, its fast smooth and handles messy conditions really well.It also paddles great. I have nothing bad to say about this board. If you have put on a bit of meat or are sprouting some grey hair it could be the one to keep your surfing high performance.

Rating: 5/5 loving it!

Escape SUP

SIZE: 10'10" X 28 1/2" X 4 1/2 by Bill Atlee of Escape

I had been plagued by shoulder problems and was looking for something to have fun with. Ambrose Curry once posted that the secret to a long surfing career was to balance the stresses on the body by mixing it up with different wave crafts. So a SUP seemed a good idea, as I'd already almost drowned on a waveski. Plus it would also let me take the kids in tandem.

I read a fair bit on swaylocks about SUP's paying particular attention to Blaine Chambers of Paddlesurf Hawaii. Some shop owners tried to convince me that only a board around 12' would be stable enough for me at 175lb. Having looked at what was available to me (Jimmy lewis - starbord - Escape and South point) I determined that Escape had the best overall shape . I went with the 10'10". This size suits me perfectly and its really stable. I thing it's really important to get the tail width right for stability in a SUP.

I got a good deal on the board which came with a full length deck grip, leash and a bag. I'm not saying how much but the retailers will have good scope for a discount on these. It's a single fin, i would prefer a 2+1 or quad personally.

Its built like a surftech PVC composite sandwich over polystyrene. This is the only way to go with such a big board, and you can carry it comfortablyon you head to the water. If you drag it down the beach the sand will wear off the paint. Bashing it with the blade as you paddle also chips the paint easily.

I dispensed with the optional carbon paddle which came in about €150 as I couldn't afford it. I made a balsa paddle myself but snapped it. I eventually bought an alloy paddle from Ainsworth paddles it only cost €60 and I'm happy with it. I have heard of people snapping expensive carbon paddles.

Ok so how does it go ? Well first time up I found it really stable paddling once you get used to it. You have to get used to paddling a few strokes each side, nice and long through the tail to keep a straight line, also you must compensate for te wind. In windy conditions they are a lot of work. I reserve it for glassy days.

There is a bit of technique in catching a wave, I half turn the board so I can paddle for the wave without having to change sides with the paddle. When the wave comes under you it gets really unstable. I find it easy to drop low or walk back a bit at that stage. With the weight of the board it is slow coming off the wave, but retains speed easily. You really need tha paddle to surf these boards and there is a bit of technique to using the paddle to assist you turns. I have a paddling background so I find this bit easy.

In summary they are loads of fun. But they are not very manouvreable, so I never use it around people. I will certainly try surf bigger waves on it, as it's such a different experience. My 4 year old loves a spin on it as does my dog! I am really looking forward to next summer, flat or not.

Rating: 4/5 good value and great shape but I feel a 2+1 option with more durable paint would help

Sunday, October 14, 2007

6'9" Maui & Son

Size: 6'9" X 19 1/4" X 2.5"

This board looks like a millon and one other thrusters that you'll find on the racks of your local surfshop. It probably falls into the category of big boy or executive model. Sure enough when you flip it over it has the standard boxy rails and single to double concave. The thruster fin cluster is a bit more spread out than the Hawaiian standard. Making the board a bit stiffer but much drivier.

As usual, I dispense with the cheap plastic fins and put in a decent pair of glass fins from the off. My first wave on this board was a head high wave at my local beach. It was high tide and there was a huge backwash. I caught the wave just as the backwash hit, the wave immediately doubled up, I dropped down the face backhand grabbing the rail. This board held in like nothing else I have ever experienced. I experienced similar things with this board many times, there is a certain touch of magic to it. The board also turns really well too and is nice & drivey through the turns.

My friend rides this board as his main ride now and has confirmed everything I have to say about it. I examined the board closely to see what is different. The only thing unusual is that the rails near the fins are not quite as sharp as you will find on other boards.
The only problem with this board, and it's a pet hate of mine is that the board is glassed really lightly. You only have to look at it and it dings. Currently the board has the same texture as a golf ball! I have even repaired a snapped nose. The paint job is pretty unique also.

I got this board from my friend Jason who picked it up in Taiwan from a factory there, so its probably 90% machine 10% hand finish.
I will be trying to copy this board, and build an exact replica for for Sean and myself, I just hope I can capture the magic.

This board should be a 5, even with that paint job. However the glass job has taken a mark off it.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, October 05, 2007

6'6" Sam Du Feu Fish

Size: 6'6" X 21 X 2 3/4

This board is advertised on the website as a traditional Fish. Imho the shape is not really that traditional. It has a narower nose and tail than the Standard Steve Lis Template. The board came with a pair of FCS TF-1 Carbon fins set in FCS plugs.

First impressions were that while it caught waves easily, it felt a bit sluggish. Turns were quite pivoty with little drive. I had a pair of handmade 8.5" X 5" hand made keel fins with FCS tabs, so I decided to try them. This made a huge difference, the board had a lot more projection out of turns and felt a lot more positive. I stuck with the keels and had some really great surfs on this board.

Unfortunately 2 fcs plugs were unable to cope with the power of the keel fins and a plug got ripped out in hollow conditions. This board has many similarities with the Rusty round nose fish in terms of template and I have a feeling that it would really fly as a quad. In fact I copied the template before I sold it.

So a thumbs up for this board with keel fins.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, October 04, 2007

6'8"Larry Mabile Double Bump Twinzer

Size: 6'8" X 21" X 2 3/4

This was one big fish. I couldn't resist buying it as (1) it was a Larry Mabile hand shape and (2) it was a Twinzer which I had never tried.

A twinzer is in effect a twin fin board with a smaller fin in front of each side fin to clean up the water flow and make the board looser.

This board was soo fast down the line, particularly in small hollow waves. One session a couple of people even asked me what I was riding I was making so many unmakeable sections. The twinzer setup has deep double concaves like a bonzer and with the improved water flow around the fins it was really loose for a fish you could really snap it around even on the backhand.

Turns were so smooth they happenned really fast without loosing speed. I actually prefer a board like the Bonzer which projects you out of turns and I couldn't relate to that super smooth feeling. In bigger waves I preferred the bonzer as I love that feeling of acceleration out of a turn.

Though this board was about 8" too big for me it was really fun. I sold it on to a buddy who is 6'6" and built, and he is really enjoying this board.

If you are lucky to find a Larry Mabile shape go for it his boards are top class. With a Twinzer Fish something 4 - 6" taller than you is about right.

Rating: 5/5

JC 6'10" Equalizer - Surftech

Size: 6'10" X 20" X 2 1/2"

This board was light for its size. The nose rocker is pretty well blended so it catches waves smoothly. I found it very stiff with poor projection out of turns. At my 170lbs I think this board needs a bigger more powerful surfer to get the most out of it. I found with the wide nose and tail it was pretty hard to pump and get some speed. It was also a quite a stiff board.

That said my buddy who bought it after me is way lighter, rode it to death for a full year (he came was coming off a 7'6") and still got his money back on the board when he sold it on. An that was 3 owners later! So they are pretty indestructable. But you need a bit of weight behind you to throw it about.

If stiff boards are your thing and you are big enough, this could be a pretty good board.

Rating: 3/5

6'11" Circle One Funboard

Size: 6'11" X 21" x 2 1/2"

This board is a chineese import. Its Epoxy over eps. Pretty heavy for an epoxy board. It comes with a thruster fin setup using the Taiwanese DFS system. While the deck remained free from dents the paint did tend to chip if dropped. Saying that a traditional glass board would have sustained a big ding with the same impact.

Though I bought this board for the kids I enjoyed riding it myself. It caught waves well and turned pretty good too. The rocker in the board is quite relaxed and apart from the swallow tail it look a bit like a modern egg shape.

It would make a good first sub 7 board for someone coming from a bigger board. Not high performance by any means, but if your just starting to make some turns, at the price it will serve you well. On the other hand you will probably start to find limitations in terms of making faster snappier turns after a year or so if you are pushing your surfing. Its also a good idea to ditch the cheap plastic fins if you seek better performance and invest in a good set of glass fins.

This board is good value and surfs well for its shape.

Rating: 3/5

7'2" Takayama egg - Surftech

Size:7'2" X 21 1/4" X 2 3/8"

This board comes with a fin box and side bites. Its a surftech, so its quite stiff but very tough. Given that it was second hand there was not a mark on it. I was very surprised by the weight of the board. It felt like it was even heavier than a Polyurethane/Polyester of the same size.

The rails are quite pinched and its a pretty thin board for its length at 2 3/8" thick. Although I persevered with it for 6/7 session, I never got into it. It was crap at catching waves and turned like a dog. I spoke to others and they had the same issues with the board. I think it could benefit from boxy rails and 3/8" of thickness. But who am I to second guess Donald Takayama!

I would not recommend this board , nor would my friends who have ridden it.

NOTE: Please read the comments below, my review seems to be out of kilter with everyone elses view. Perhaps the one I had was a dog.

Rating: 1/5

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Henty 6'6" Singlefin

Size: 6'6" X 19 1/4 X 2 3/4

This is a traditional old school style single fin with boxy rails and tons of volume. The rails were quite soft right and it was supplied with a big flexi fin. It paddled well and caught waves easily. In turns you had to be right back over the fin and you had to also move up the board to trim it properly. So the best position was a wide stance.

There is a certain flow to riding small single fins that you just don't get with other boards. If you are into that retro vibe then this could be the board for you. Its a great feeling to ride them well.

However, there are a retro board and will not cover run of the mill surfing. On a long good point break they can be great fun.

There was a cool black and resin tint to the bottom and the overall finishwas excellent.

So if cruisy retro is you vibe and you have the waves for it, then this could be the board for you. I just didn't have the option to use it very often. rating this board is difficult it is an excellent retro board, but retro simply isn't as good as modern offerings.

Rating: 3/5 (against modern boards)

6'6" Campbell Bros Bonzer egg

Size: 6'6" X 20 X 2 5/8

I had waited almost 12 months for this board, and the final bill came to over €800 euro. I had no doubt that it was going to be worth it. A custom board from Malcom Campbell. I discussed the board with Malcom on the phone as he was preparing to shape, and he was going to make some changes to suit me.

When I got the board I was surprised by the volume, I reall expected something thinner, as there is quite a bit o thickness in the nose and the rail are quite boxy.
I needn't have worried, the board paddles like a dream and with a relaxed nose rocker catches waves easily. I asked for a bit more tail rocker this improves my ability to complete top turns but you pay a bit of a price in loss of drive. This is never a problem for me on a Bonzer and so the trade off was worth it. I am really blasting off those top turns now, even in smaller waves with this board. The volume however makes it a bit of a challenge to duck dive.

To sum up, I love this board, it has more range than I expected and is rock solid in hollow waves.

Rating: 5/5

Boardworks 9'6" Walden Magic Model

Size: 9'6" X 23 X 3 1/4.

This board is an Epoxy PVC sandwich, like the Surftech brand. Unlike the Surftechs Boardworks does not wrap the PVC around the rails, thus improving flexibility. For a big board with such a wide nose it was really light.

The underneath of this board was pretty unusual with a deep concave in the nose, big single to double concaves and a deep rail bevel all around. The fin setup is 2+1 with future fin sidebites.

This board really paddled so well, with all that volume. It could catch any ripple. It surfed very well off the tail, and you can really throw it about as if it was a board half it's size. I rode it with a 9" cutaway fin and/or side bites. It never managed to get a full ten over on this board, but cheater 5 and 5's were reasonably easy. Hang 10's were difficult. Very much a performance longboard. With the wide nose and light weight it was sometines a struggle to get into a wave in strong offshores.

I rode this board in everything up to double overhead plus. It always felt exceptionally stable no matter the size. It has a solid construction, one knarly day at a point break I got caught inside heading for the rocks.. I held the board in front of me, hit the rocks and only got a few scrapes on the bottom, a standard board would have been torn to shreads. The rails however were prone to flaking paint and cracks, for many people this would be a major problem.

Overall, I really enjoyed this board it was one of the main boards in my quiver for a few years.

If noseriding is your thing then this is not the board for you. However if you want to throw a board around off the tail, then this is the one. I will always retain a fondness for this board.

Rating: 4/5

6'4" JC Peter Mel Machine

Size: 6'4" X 19.38 X 2.3

This shortboard is from Surftech and is aimed at the bigger surfer, or in my case the older one.

It has a slightly wider nose and tail than the generic 6'4" shortboard. The volume was also spread out through the board, which made the board very floaty for its size.

The board was quite sensitive to vibration (due to its PVC Sandwich). This is a feature of Tufflites, whereby you feel every bump in the water. So from the off it had a different feel.

It could paddled great and was super at getting into waves. Once up it was fast and loose and surfed really well. Just writing this makes me want another one (had to trade for a winter wetsuit).

The finish was quite good. The baggage handlers on a trip to Lanzarote managed to put a compression on the deck and the previous owners dog chewed the corner a bit, but normal use did not leave a mark.

If your comfortable on Surftechs and are a Bigger, older or novice shortboarder, I really recommend this board.

Rating: 4/5

Zooruz 6'6" Bonzer

Size: 6'6 X ? X 2 5/8

This unusual board was a 5 fin Bonzer copy made in France. I'm told the company is quite large by European standards I'm told. I came with Lokbox removable side runners and a 7" Tru ames bonzer fin. It was quite unusual with a black spray bottom red deck and white pinlines.

It looked like it would be quite a bit of fun with it's forward plan shape and wide tail. Ooh how looks can be deceiving! Paddling for the first time, it felt like it was pushing water and it took real effort getting anywhere.

The defining feature of a bonzer is its projection out of that first bottom turn. This board just faded at the bottom of the wave. Consequently after that it was usually just down the line.

Examining the fin set-up with my ruler pin pointed the problem, the centerfin was not the required distance from the runners. With my ruler in hand, I realised that the fin box was in the wrong position too far forward from the tail. There was no way this board was going to work unless some modification was done. I cut back the base of the centre fin so that it overhung the deck at the back by 1.5". This improve teh performance marginally, but it was no Bonzer.

The board looked pretty cool but the deck started to dent far more quickly than normal. It was obvious that this blank was shaped by a machine which took too much foam off the deck. Heel dents appeared after every session.

For a bit of fun I took out the 5 bonzer fins and put in 2 lokbox keel fins. It actually was quite a fun board then! But if I wanted a fish I would have bought one.

Avoid this board at all costs!!!!

Rating: 1/5

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

7'6" campbell 5 Fin Bonzer

Size: 7'6" X 21 X 2 3/4"

I bought this board second hand on a trip to California.

Its a solidly built board withResin Tints and full gloss and polish by Moonlight Glassing, a work of art. Flipping the board over you notice the massive concaves and array of 5 fins, with the runner side fins glassed on and a 7" box center fin.

Having read extensively on bonzers before purchasing, I realised they are very sensitive to fin placement(as are all multi fin systems) and I knew to overlap the center fin with the runners by 1/4".

The first couple of surfs in El Porto and Trestles were in junky surf and I didn't notice anything special. Next day we were lucky to get Sunset cliffs really clean and head high to overhead.

Man did this board take off, I was all over the face, it surfed incredibly well. I really couldn't believe a board that size could be so fast and loose. Talking to Rich Pavel the next day he looked me in the eye and explained in his dramatic way that the board is "Deceptively High performance".

Since then I've ridden this board in all situations, in any decent wave its my board of choice. I'd rather cut off my left testicle with a blunt knife than give up this board!

This is the benchmark against which all other boards are judged.

Rating: 5/5

8'2" Hooded Villian

Size: 8'2" X 21 X 2 3/4

An 8' board is an unusual size being neither a longboard or a short board. This board is very much based in the performance longboard style and comes set up as a thruster rather than the 2 + 1 you expect at this size. For a board of this size its surprisingly light. Alas there was a price to pay for the lightness. All I had do was look at this board and it would ding. It really broke my heart the amount of times it was out of the water.

It rode well much as you would expect for such a performance oriented board. But I'm not really sure who this board is aimed at. It is way too light for a beginner who would damage it or a heavy surfer who would destroy the deck. This could be a really fun board with an epoxy glass job to keep the weight down. Unfortunately the glassing sucks.

Rating: 2/5

6'2" Circle One Thruster Fish

Size: 6'2" X 21 x 2 1/2"

I have to admit I am a big fan of short wide thin boards for summer waves.

This board sold under the Circle One brand comes from the biggest surfboard factory in Taiwan

Its made in epoxy and polystyrene but really solidly built and heavy for an epoxy as it does not use PVC sandwich construction. On the plus side I am not a fan of PVC in shorter boards as it makes them lifeless. Theis board feels like standard polyester construction. Its supplied with cheap plastic fins in the DFS fins system. But it will accept FCS.

I rode this board for the summer and I really liked it, with an expensive set of FCS H2 fins. It flies in fatter stuff and turns really well. Its also pretty ding proof and there was not one mark after 6 months solid use. definitely a good buy secondhand.

I highly recommend this board at the price, but put some decent fins on it.

Rating: 4/5

Nigel Semmens 7'0" Big Boy Thruster

Size: 7' X 20" X 2 5/8"

This board was your standard big boy thruster, with a round pin. Finish was sanded. I tended to use this board as a semi gun and travel board. I rode the reefs in Fuerteventura and the NW of Ireland in solid waves. The board performed faultless and turned pretty well. It was stiff in smaller waves, however came to life in a bit of size and was really stable. It turned in a more drawn out way as you would expect for a board this size. The burford blank minimised the heel dents on the deck.

I'd recommend this board for good waves. A bit sluggish for mush and smaller stuff.

Rating: 4/5

Ocean magic 7'4" Minimal

Size: 7'4" X 21 X 2 3/4"

This board remains one of my favourites. Its set up as a thruster which seems to suit it perfectly. Like most mini-mals it has a relaxed nose rocker and catches waves easily. I suspect that its balanced with a little extra tail rocker as its really easy to turn this board like a shortboard. It will top turn and cutback with ease. Surprisingly, you can also do cheater 5's pretty easily. The finish on this board was excellent and after 1 year of regular use there were very few heel compressions on the deck. This was probably due to the heavier Burford Blank (polyurethane) and the gloss and polish finish (Polyester). In all I could not fault this board one bit in durability or performance. It would make an excellent first shorter board.

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Hello and welcome to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to share by experiences of different surfboard. Over the years I have had many surfboards, so great some not so. I hope that my reviews will help you choose a shape suitable for your skill level and the waves you ride.

The particular impetus for the blog was the delivery of my Greg Griffin 5 fin. Many people were waiting for my comments on it.

I'm an average surfer, riding average waves. I have many different boards, thrusters, bonzers, singles, fish, performance mals and traditional noseriders. from 5'3" to 10". I can do a reasonable job of riding most of them. I also occasionally shape some boards for my own use.

If you have any comments on the structure of the reviews I'd be glad to hear your comments.

SHOPS/DISTRIBUTORS: If you want me to to give an opinion on one of your boards, I'm happy to do that, however I will require the board for around 3 months so that I can test it in a range of conditions.