Winter Weapons: which board is best for you?

DaveySKY Surfboards Pipe Dream
Andy Dillon surfing a DaveySKY Surfboards 6’3.5 Pipe Dream in Sea Bright, New Jersey

Happy New Year everyone! Hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday season!

Been quite a while since my last post, but finally found some time to sit down again write. My last post broke down the summer series board models, and now with winter upon us, I’d like to do a similar post for winter board options.

Let’s start with the obvious: winter surfing is a whole different ball game. The water is freezing, winds are typically heavy and bone-chilling, the waves can get HEAVY and you’re cocooned in restrictive rubber. Add all these factors to the everyday challenges of surfing, and having the right equipment under your feet becomes critical to having fun and being successful in winter waves.

My focus will be on the more performance based board models for the purposes of this post, geared towards the good storm swell we tend to get in winter here in NJ and on the U.S. east coast.

There are 5 of my board models I’ll be comparing: Turbo Ripper, Love, The Dream, Pipe Dream and Charger. All of these boards are designed to handle pitchy, hollow, fast, and/or barreling waves typical of winter.

I’ll start off the the performance hybrids – the Turbo Ripper and Love. They both have a similar ideal wave range, but have different characteristics and personalities.

I’ll start off with my #1 seller: the Turbo Ripper. The Turbo Ripper has a moderate nose rocker with a fairly low tail rocker. What that translates to is a pretty friendly nose when it comes to pitchy/late drops (even though the Turbo Ripper is designed to get you in a bit early – but it’s bound to happen here in the Atlantic) and a lightning fast and drivey tail section for tons of inherent speed to make the fast beach break sections. The Turbo Ripper can handle a multitude of waves very well – open faced, bowly, hollow, barreling. If barrels are a main focus, I’d recommend pulling in the width a notch or two (1/4″-1/2″) as it’s naturally a wider performance board. While it has draw away a bit from it’s ability to carry over flatter sections, this will increase its stability and hold in dredging, hollow sections. Very quick, agile and energetic from rail to rail, the Turbo Ripper is such an excellent all-around performance hybrid shortboard for the conditions we have here year round, which is why it’s become such a successful board model and has produced so many stoked customers. It’s a workhorse utility board for a great array of waves.

Next up in the performance hybrids: the Love. The rocker concept of the Love¬†is essentially opposite of the Turbo Ripper, having a screaming low nose rocker for this type of board with a modern flippy but continuous tail rocker. That results in extra paddle power to get in as early as possible, but – along with the tight round/round pin tail – the ability to feel nice and stable deep in the pocket, where the Love is really designed to shine. The ideal conditions for the Love is a nice almondly barreling and bowly wave, though it’s designed to handle hollower, dredgier conditions as well. As with the Turbo Ripper, the width can be narrowed and tailored to you personally. While the Turbo Ripper is very quick from rail to rail, the Love is smoother and more connected from rail to rail – due to both the tail shape, tail rocker and bottom contours. Think big power carves and roundhouse cutbacks. Super reliable and consistent feeling underfoot.

On to the high performance shortboards: The Dream and the Pipe Dream. They can be thought of as fraternal twins – they have very similar chassis, but are quite different in their performance. They both have modern performance rockers, widths and rails designed for solid waves and critical surfing. They naturally take more effort to paddle and surf than the performance hybrids, but they really excel in their own ideal wave ranges.

The Dream is the more all-around/versatile of the two. You’ll ride it shorter than you would the Pipe Dream, which mean’s it’s naturally more agile. It’s quite a unique tail shape and outline curve in the tail. It’s kind of a hybrid shape between a thumb and squash tail. The concept of the tail shape is to (in powerful, sizable waves) maintain the rail-to-rail quickness and off-the-top snappiness of a squash tail, but to have the hold, consistency and barrel-ability of a rounder/pinier tail. It took a few iterations to nail, but it’s a really useful and versatile tail shape. The Dream can kind of be thought of as a step up Turbo Ripper as far its range of waves. It has a medium rail for good drive generation when needed.

The Pipe Dream is geared towards…you guessed it…barrels! But, it has a trick or two up its sleeve to make it more than just a one trick pony. When it comes to surfing barrels, having a dedicated barrel board really makes a difference. The Pipe Dream is that difference. It’s designed to deliver ultra consistency and control, phenomenal rail hold and an ample¬†amount of speed for making dredgy beach break barrels. These advantages of course result in a draw-back, and that is in the category of turning – however, unlike a traditional barrel board, the Pipe Dream was designed to be put on rail and crank our some world-class turns, so don’t worry about that. That’s also part of the reason for the two sets of dimensions for the Pipe Dream: standard and wide. The standard dims are a bit more of a traditional barrel board, where the wide dims give it a bit more versatility, adding some extra curve to the rail line.

So those are the shortboards, but that still leaves the option of the Charger. While a new model released in 2015, I’ve made several boards that resulted in the model release for customers over the past few years. The Charger is categorized as a performance midlength – although I have some shorter sizes as well. The Charger is primarily a down-the-line board, especially the 6’6 and up sizes. It’s very popular with my middle age and up customers, although there’s been increasing interest from the younger crowd as well!…particularly in the smaller sizes. The Charger has tons a rail line, even in the shorter sizes, giving it incredible rail hold. The round tail with a thumb influence gives consistency with ability to move. The Charger is friendly to different tail shapes though – round, round/thumb, thumb, pin, or rounded pin naturally work very well depending on what your goals are with your new Charger.

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