9’6 Surftech Takayama Model T Dimensions: 9’6 x 22.875″ x 3.06″
I gave the Surftech Takayama Model T board a spin during a recent swell. This was the first time I had really tried a traditional noserider and found out quick that they don’t handle very well in larger surf. I took it out to Pops off Waikiki in overhead surf and right off the bat found that these boards get quite skittery on waves with speed. The large single fin combined with 50/50 type rails made the Model T very difficult to manage in the overhead waves and its slow speed made it nearly impossible to make sections.
After my hard learned lesson, I waited for the swell to die and proceeded to surf it in perfect waist high 3’s. The board features moderate thickness (though it didn’t feel too bulky) and very flat rocker. Paddling was very easy and I was able to glide into each wave giving myself more than enough time to setup for each noseride. The concave in the nose made nose riding easy and the 50/50 rails helped the board to stay in the pocket.
The board is a great choice for cruisers looking for pure noseriding with minimal turning. I recommend you surf this board in anything with nice shape under chest high. These type of boards don’t do well with quick adjustments mid-face which is why you need long and perfectly peeling waves to have fun…an attribute true with most noseriders.
6’0 Joel Tudor Good Karma Dimensions: 6’0 x 21″ 1/8 x 2″ 1/2
All I can say is I give a lot of credit to the surfers of the past who rode boards with half the performance (if that) of today’s boards. Those included the chunky single and twin fins of the 70’s where surfers were pushing the evolution of performance surfing to new levels. To truly appreciate how good today’s surfboards are, you really need to step back in the past and ride any of those boards. The Joel Tudor Good Karma is a total retro shape…wide point forward, full volume from rail to rail, and a single fin setup.
I was actually pretty excited to give this board a try as it was my first time riding a single fin shortboard. I took it out at one of the better town spots on a slightly onshore day in head high surf. The board paddled pretty good but once on the wave it took a lot of effort to generate any type of speed. I ended up getting stuffed behind a number of sections that normally would have flown by…it was a lot of work.
Turn was typical of a board with only one fin…you really had to utilize all of your rail and force the board to turn. Turns were long and drawn out but I can see how these boards teach you how to use your rail…you really need to if you want any chance of completing a full turn.
I was pretty disappointed with this board…just too much work and too slow. I’m assuming the onshore waves had a little bit to do with the board’s performance but the waves were still very surf-able.
I assume this board would work well on a long point break with a big wall and lots of water behind the face. You really need a big open face and long wall to generate sufficient speed (imagine your mom’s 70’s station wagon and how much time it needs to get to top cruising speed).
Some people are into riding old school shapes and drawing rather straight lines at minimal speeds. If cruiser surfing is your style then Surftech’s Good Karma may be worth a try.
7’2 Surftech Al Merrick Water Hog: 7′2 x 21″ x 2.63″
I usually don’t ride fun boards being that I rather surf a shortboard or longboard but I had heard great things about the Channel Islands Water Hog that I decided to give it a go during a recent south swell. I took the Water Hog to one of the better waves in town, Number 3’s.
The wave at 3’s (or Trees as the locals would say) is like a machine spitting outperfect long peeling rights and decent but shorter lefts. It’s a great wave to ride a small board on but because the regulars all ride longboards, you’re forced to ride a longboard or barely catch any waves. The problem with riding a longboard at 3’s is that when its pumping it’s a really fast wave and quite tough to get turns in on that wave as you’re always trying to outrun the wave which is why I thought it would be a perfect chance to try the fun board out.
The Water Hog features a pretty narrow outline for a funboard and pulled in tail featuring a squash tail. It utilizes Merrick’s own FCS templates in a tri fin setup. It’s pretty thin through out the length of the board and felt like a pretty high performance board…unlike most eggy shaped funboards out there.
I scored a bunch of good rights on the Water Hog and was amazed at its speed and maneuverability. It rode down the line like a shortboard, gripping the big walls of each right at 3’s allowing me to take a high line on the steep face and drive down for incredible speed. The turning ability of this board was extremely good allowing for lip smacks and nice full round house cutbacks into foam bounces.
I managed a few lefts at 3’s and the Water Hog surprised me at how well it rode backhand. I was able to drop into the flats making hard backhand bottoms turns followed by nice carves at the top of the face. This board seemed to ride like a shortboard allowing for the best of both worlds; great paddling and remarkable turning for a board of its size.
This board works extremely well on long peeling waves both big and small. I did take it out to another spot which is a quick right and it didn’t perform as well. The board generates heaps of speed as long as you have enough time to generate speed…it didn’t respond as quickly on a shorter waves probably because of its length (7’2). I would recommend the Water Hog for better surfers looking to get more performance out of a bigger board…I think inexperienced surfers will do better with a larger funboard that offers more forgiveness and paddling ability.
The Water Hog is also featured in a 7’10 x 22″ x 2″ 3/4 model for even more paddling ability.
5’8 Surftech New Toy Dimensions: 5’8 x 20 1/8″ x 2″ 5/8
Surftech’s brand spanking new New Toy by Doc Lauch of Surf Prescriptions features a pretty rad checker board paint job in Tuflite construction. The New Toy comes with Future quad fins with real pivots. Overall, the board looks like a wide/fat shortboard with a lot of thickness in the middle…and seemed to be the perfect grovel board.
I took this board out in small mushy waves and surfed it for a week straight. It paddled well and caught waves pretty easy but didn’t quite have a whole lot of speed in the mushy garbage surf as the Xanadu Wave Rocket. The board required you to surf in the pocket as it lost a lot of its speed way out on the shoulder. Some background on the wave I surfed…it’s a right hand wave that has its moments but for the most part is a pretty sub-par wave…quick barrel section (sometimes) and then mushes out until the reform on the inside…you’re basically able to do two maneuvers if you’re lucky and one cutback before the reform.
For most of the week, the waves were pretty small (3-5 ft faces) and slow all of which I struggled to get the board going and gain any kind of speed. I did manage to score a couple of waves that bowled a bit more providing a steeper face and better wall to drive across and the board finally came alive. This board rides more like a wider shortboard than a grovel fish.
The board works great with a longer and steeper wave (doesn’t have to be fully barreling but enough of a face to generate speed). It works great for those who don’t want to fully commit to a retro fish but want some of the benefits that fishes provide (better paddling/wave catching and speed) again when on the right type of wave. It also works for surfers who predominately ride fishes but want to ride more of a shortboard outline but can’t really get a stock high performance shortie to work well. Remember to keep the board close to the pocket…it also works well backside…much better than your average wide tailed fish…obviously due to its rounded tail and pointy nose. I personally rather ride the Wave Rocket in smaller surf.
The only real negative about this board is the black checkered paint job…you’ll find your wax melting within seconds on a hot day so make sure you wax prior to getting to the beach or carry a stick of wax in your pocket and wax in the water.
I’ve been procrastinating on this post for a while but finally got around to writing it. I tried Surftech’s 5’6 Xanadu Rocket Fish many months ago thanks to the good guys at Surftech Hawaii. I had seen this board out in the line-ups of Oahu’s popular surf spots e.g. Diamond Head Cliffs, Kewalos, Bowls, Rockpiles, etc and it seemed like the most consistent Surftech board out there in the surf. After a few unsuccessful tries, I was able to borrow the Xanadu Rocket Fish just in time for tiny waves! Bummer. Regardless, I took the board out to see how it would do in crap surf and after the first three sessions I thought this board was a total tool. The deck seemed way to flat and I couldn’t seem to get this board to work…probably because of the poor surf more than anything.
Xanadu Wave Rocket in waist high garbage
Here’s another short clip of the Wave Rocket in knee high slightly onshore dribble. The board worked great this day…I was flying down the line while all the shortboarders were bogging 🙂
I was about to give up on this board and return it to Surftech when I decided to take it out to Diamond Head during a small swell. With low expectations, I paddled out and caught a few in between waves. Amazingly, this board turned on with speed and tight turns coming with ease. It seemed like a completely different board from the first few sessions and the more I rode this board the more I liked it.
After that fateful Diamond Head session, I rode the board almost every day for a month. This board was simply magic for the typical waves we have in town (weak and fatter on most days). The board paddled easy despite it’s short length (5’6 x 21″ 3/16 x 2″ 1/4) and this board paddled into waves better than any board I’ve ever rode which I attribute to a perfect entry rocker. This board is blazing fast down the line and with each pump on an open face the speed you can generate is mind boggling. Even with all that speed, the board is still very maneuverable with loads of drive off the bottom but just loose enough for tight turns in the pocket.
I’m not sure if Surftech has discontinued making this board as it’s no longer on their website but you can still find them in most surf shops. Here’s tip for those looking to buy one. The most common thing I hear from people who own Rocket Fishes is they always wish they got the next smallest model (board comes in lengths of 5’6, 5’8, 5’10, 6’0). At first glance you’ll probably want to err on the safe side and get more than enough board but the rails are boxy and full making for a full volume board and the Tuflite skin make these boards extremely buoyant. So if you’re thinking of getting the 5’10, you should probably get the 5’8.
A few more notes, I did try a friend’s 5’8 and there was a pretty big difference in volume…I can see why you’d want to get the smaller board. The 5’8 for me was too buoyant and thick for me and made the board feel more like a funboard…easy wave catching but less responsive.
Future Rasta Keel Fins
The Xanadu Rocket Fish also comes with Future keel fins which work ok for stock fins but I’ve heard that the Future Rasta Keel Sea Shepard fins work insane on the Rocket Fish. I hope to get a pair of those fins and try it out and I’ll be sure to report back when I get them.
After many near misses at the Surftech warehouse, I finally got a hold of a Surftech Takayama In the Pink. I had always wanted to try this board and up to this day I had never had the chance to ride a Takayama board. I see these things out surfing all the time and they look like really good boards so I was definitely stoked to finally have my hands on it. This particular In the Pink model is 9’3 x 22.38″ x 2.88″ with a 2+1 setup…Steve hooked me up with FCS side bites and an 8″ Takayama Surftech fin. Not a whole lot of foam but what can you expect for a performance longboard? Before jumping in the water I was hoping it would paddle a bit better than the Pearson Forumla One so that I could compete with all the logs. As soon as I jumped in the water I could tell this board was gonna work well…it floated me well and the lower entry rocker cut helped with the paddling as well.
This particular day saw extremely small and weak surf. It was lining up okay with the surf around knee high at best…this would be a good test to see how well the In the Pink board performed in gutless conditions and how well it groveled. Paddling into waves was a cinch…I have to give a lot of credit to the flatter rocker…you don’t feel like the board is bogging and pushing water up at the nose. The epoxy seemed like it floated a bit better than a traditional PU board and that helped with wave catching as well.
The Takayama ITP also turned extremely well and was quite responsive in the not so great surf. The board seems to want to go where you want to go and as well as it performed in the weak surf, I’m excited to try it at 3’s on the next south swell. As far as its noseriding capabilities, I did manage to hang 5 on one wave and got close on a few others. There just wasn’t enough of a wall to really get to the nose and in small weak surf, you can do a few quick noserides but anything longer will result in the nose pearling. I’ll try noseriding this board in better surf and report back. Stay tuned.
I recently tested a Surftech Bob Pearson Formula 1 performance longboard. Dimensions were 9’0 x 22.5″ x 2.88″. This board is supposed to be more like a competition board that can maneuver well yet still noseride. It’s hard to tell from the photo but this particular board features a very blunt and wide nose typical of Arrow boards. On the extreme end the board also features a very pulled in tail which kinda resembles a rounded pin or diamond tail.
I took this board out to one of the best longboard spots called Number 3’s on a day with waist high peelers and a heavy crowd. The first thing I noticed about this board was how domed the deck was which basically decreased the overall volume considerably. Paddling was somewhat difficult and unless you’re a champion paddler or small framed surfer, this board will probably not float you very well. Once out at the break I had to jockey for waves as I was competing with guys on absolute logs, however, I did manage to snag a few waves and interesting enough the board made up for its lack of paddling power with extreme versatility and performance. I managed a few noserides courtesy of its blunt nose and this board felt really good down the line. Once you got the board moving it seemed to glide pretty well into waves probably due to its flatter rocker but this board was definitely made for solid surf. This board would work well on a fast and steep point break when your only competition in the water are shortboarders! Unfortunately I was under-gunned at Threes this day.
Up next is the Donald Takayama In the Pink board. Can’t wait to see how this one rides!
I just tested Randy French’s 5’8 Soul Fish the other day in marginal shoulder high surf out on the South Shore of Oahu. This particular Soul Fish has dimensions of 5’8 x 20.75″ x 2.5″ and rides with twin keel fins. When I first took a look at this board I noticed how thick the middle to front section of the board was and knowing how floaty epoxy is, I knew this board would paddle well.
The waves in town this particular day were average with an out of season south swell rolling through. Incoming tide at my normal surf spot which is better suited toward fishy type boards. The waves were on average shoulder high coming in at a funny angle and not connecting all the way to the inside…definitely not epic conditions! Today would be a great day to test the limits of this small wave fish as the Surftech website claims that this board is recommended for gutless to shoulder high surf.
I caught a bunch of waves and it was very amazed at how easy it was to paddle into these weak waves. The board does have a lot of volume for being only 5’8 but I think the ‘floatiness’ of epoxy along with the super flat entry rocker made wave catching ridiculously easy. Once up and riding, this board had more than enough drive…I would say it was more drivey than loose and very responsive. Cutbacks were a cinch and the board seemed to want to go where my feet went. Pumping was pretty good as well and I got a few ultra fast speed pumps on the waves that lined up just right.
The only downside to this board is that it didn’t hold very well on the drop on a couple head high sets. I was practically dropping in sideways on one head high wave which would make me assume that unless you like feeling out of control on larger waves, you should surf this board shoulder high and under. This board is an awesome small wave groveler board, especially for those who don’t like riding longboards.
Lastly, I’ve had problems with epoxy boards being too floaty and not being able to keep the rail in the water, especially in windy conditions. However, the Soul Fish rode almost like a traditional PU board even with offshore winds around 20 MPH.