Dane Reynolds and Kelly Slater are probably the two most exciting surfers around today. Certainly they receive the most media attention. It’s not just because of the Kelly’s 9 titles or Dane’s understated yet charming, anti-establishment persona. (You’ve gotta love Dane, he’s the original fisherman-punk.) These guys know how to make the board go fast on a wave and they have a whole quiver of creative maneuvers to use the speed they created.
Recently though the pair have been making headlines with the type of boards they’ve ben riding in competition. They’ve been winning heats on boards 6 inches shorter than traditional shortboards (or thrusters).
So what the deal? Are they just riding fishes? Well, no. A fish is shorter and wider than a normal shortboard but it also has almost no rocker. The rocker is the curve running through the board from tail to nose. (More rocker means a board will plain (and paddle) more slowly but can turn more tightly especially on a steeper wave). A fish, therefore, paddles really easily and happily skates over flat sections of the wave but doesn’t turn with the same speed and power. If you want to see the power Dane gets out of his board just go to Hurley.com and check out the first turn Dane did on his 9.70 wave against Taylor Knox. The boards Kelly and Dane have been riding are shorter and wider but they are not really fishes. They are thin, like high performance shortboards and, while they have a little less rocker, they definitely have more rocker than a fish.
Should you buy a Kelly or Dane model surfboard?
No surfboard is going to make you magically surf like these guys, only a lot of hard work and a great coach. Having said that you can never have too many boards in your quiver. Kelly’s regular shortboards are so low volume that even a lot of pros find them difficult to paddle. But even if you buy a board that is too small/big/short/thin or wide for you, it will only make you surf better in the long run. So why not?
Both surfers ride for Al Merrick’s Channel Island Surfboards. Al has been making boards for Kelly, and mentoring him, for his entire career. For more info on the exact specs of their boards check out Channel Island Surfboards.