The 'ol Switcheroo

Conditions were perfect for some fin testing this weekend--swell was small and clean (weird), wind was non existent (really weird), and my wife volunteered her 7' EPS egg while she watched the baby (bizarre). The board, a modified displacement hull template with low rocker, is a great platform for fin testing, and I got to surf a variety of fin combos in a variety of tides.
Saturday's lower morning tide called for the 2+1 setup, with a 7" flexible fin in the center. Not enough power to really feel the fin, but the combo held in on the steeper faces, and was really stable during late takeoffs. Stoked to try this out in some bigger surf.
As the tide filled the Spitfire single was the call. The template and thick foil make it virtually drag-free (you can feel a big difference on the paddle-out alone), but it's surprisingly fast, stable, and drivey. Rekindled my love for single fins (it's been at least month since I last declared my love for singles. Sorry, singles!).
The swell dropped a bit for Sunday, but conditions were still clean and glassy. Started off with a Wil Jobson Twinzer-inspired setup (no pictures, as the coffee had eroded whatever attention span I have left), which was fast as hell and held in nicely.
The call of the day, however, proved to be twin-with-a-trailer setup (1+2?). Kept the rear Lokbox twinzer fins in and added a small stabilizer in the back of the box. Fast, slippery fun with a lot of drive.
I like surfing on the edge of control--mostly because that's the only way I can surf--and this combo kept things interesting for a few hours. Found a peak all to myself and let her rip.
Still stoked thinking about it--made this overcast, cold day away from the coast that much more bearable.
Note on the board: Ordered this one with a 'clear' glass job, but Fatty wanted none of that. Check out her 'hourglass' lap line on the bottom, which adds strength to the boxes and is very slimming...

It's Always Summer Somewhere...

Just added a couple of fishes to the queue up at the FattyShack. The traditional outline on top (5'8") is scheduled for a coke-bottle tint, while the biggun' underneath (6'9") will have some orange/mango flavoring.
They both look like they could fly, but this one actually has wings!

Mexico Secret Spot Goes Off During Fires

Our hearts at Isle Surfboards go out to the families and friends affected by the fires caused by record breaking temperatures and strong santa ana winds. But every cloud has a silver lining and anyone lucky enough to be a surfer and get in the water this week was rewarded with all time perfection not seen in years in southern California. A combination of north swell, south swell and offshore winds had most breaks going mental for days on end. The Isle crew were lucky enough to sneak out of the warehouse and get some of the most memorable barrels in years.

Click this link to see some pics

Red Shred Sled

Lil' Red is safely under the feet of a local Northbay ripper. It's hard to get this color right but, as per usual, Leslie nailed it. Matched the resin leash loop color as well.
Sorry for the quality of the pics--snapped these in full-blown cell phone excitement.
Four fins and a single bump fit nicely into steep faces, and, if you squint, you can make out the bottom lap line and butterfly patch.

Diamond-tipped pinline...

We're safely out of harm's way up here north of the Bridge, but our thoughts and prayers are with those down south who are in the midst of a disaster that boggles the mind. Good Luck.

The WinterFish Solution

One of our local breaks poses an interesting challenge for both surfers and shapers--it's a beachbreak with an abrupt ledge, so it is often powerful. The paddle out almost always sucks--long and bitchy. The peaks also shift with every nuance of tide, wind, and swell direction, so the one you're surfing solo might disappear, then reappear in a crowd of local shredders. Sometimes, it's mushy and fat.
Contemporary shortboards work well for surfing the wave, but getting out and chasing peaks require something with a bit more paddle power--especially if you're wearing a lot of rubber, have a hard time resisting work donuts, and not getting any younger.
I've come close with a number of designs over the years, but it hasn't stopped me from tinkering...
I'm hoping the latest incarnation of the WinterFish will do the trick.
It's got a pulled in nose, widepoint forward, lots of curve through the midsection due to the narrower tail and single flyer, more entry rocker and exit than standard fishes, and more of a shortboard foil.
Bottom contours are tuned to my favorite quad setups (it's a quad!).
Marko EPS.
It's on the glassing rack right now, awaiting Fatty's magical habits (I'm putting the squeeze on her to finish this one fast. She responds well to Russian River pinot noirs, Tejava tea, and strawberry mochi).

Two Boards, Nine Fins

Is it possible to get skunked when the Bodega Bay Buoy reads 11.5 feet at 17 seconds and there's no wind to speak of?
It is when you live in Sonoma County!
Soupy, warbly, chest high close-out slop at a local beachbreak. Had to make a tough call between the EPS quad fish and the Campbell Brothers Bonzer inspired High Five (named for its ability to hold a high line and its plentitude of fins). Ended up with the five finner. Why? Well, at times I think my love for the quad fish is too great--an exclusive relationship bordering on the psychotic. It's good to get some distance every once in a while.
Turned out the High Five was the right call--fast and fun in some god-awful surf.

Powder blue full board tint with some fine double pinlines. Looks like prom, circa 1978.

Much like prom, I didn't score, came home early, and screwed around on the computer for a while.

Fish 'n Egg

An egg and a fish to get the ball rolling. The egg is a 6'0 quad with a coffee-'n-cream full board tint, and the 5'10" keel fin is a crazy Fatty concoction of foam stains, swirls, and pinlines. Both feature Lokbox finboxes. Bitchin.
The little round pin handles waves in the overhead range surprisingly well--not a mushbuster*
*Board is also an excellent mushbuster.

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

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

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

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 5/8I 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

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