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We promise this won't (really) hurt.

Wanna win a new surfboard? We have a custom Chilli ‘Black Vulture’ to gift (plus all the trim you’d expect from a premium dealer). To be in the running, just answer a few questions for us. It won’t take long.

Board Test: Can A Thruster Devotee Learn To Love A Twin-Fin?

First things first, you might notice some monumental changes in this episode of The Joyride. For instance:

In episodes past, your antagonist (me) was more silent than a church fart. In this episode, I molest the viewer with semi-constant and typically inane commentary.

In episodes past, the films were based on a rating system that highlighted the boards' specific performance traits (speed, rail, air, user-friendliness, and wave height preference). In this episode, we let sessions run freely and allow the viewer to draw their own conclusions.

And in episodes past, my surfing was boxy and beleaguered, probably not slick enough to win an under-12 division at the local boardriders club. In this episode, well...yeah, still true. 

If you're not a fan of the Joyride re-vamp, my sincerest apologies. I agree that my head is too big and my voice dull and nasally.

But if it's any consolation, I can guarantee that your viewing experience was not half as painful as having to speak straight into a camera lens, pretending against all logic that there's an engaged audience on the other side, fucking up my lines thirty times, re-filming said lines, then having to live these insecure moments over and over again in the editing bay.

Say what you will about the self-obsessed modern vid avenue, but vlogging ain't easy. Nor is it fun. But, for the sake of surfboard lovers around the world, I'll do my best to improve this vanity practice moving forward. I want the Joyride to be equal parts entertaining and informative. Feel free to let us know where improvements can be made.

...Other than in my surfing, of course. I've been trying to fix that for years and still the poo stance persists. I blame genetics and Adriano's World Title. 

Now, to introduce the star of our show, the JS Black Baron—a performance twin!

black baron full js industries surfboards 1 2

A sexy little thing, ain't she?

Photography JS

Prior to this Joyride, I'd ridden a twin-fin maybe a dozen times throughout my 20-plus years of surfing, and while I could classify a few of those experiences as remotely enjoyable, I never felt any true affinity to a board sans center skeg. 

This comes back to two inherent truths about myself:

  1. I am a very diligent, straitlaced, and boring person by nature. Flexibility and frivolity are not my strong suits. Those traits favor Ashton (who, I'm sure it will come as no surprise, adores twin fins). I prefer structure and rigidity—something I can rely on. Perform on. And the center fin has always provided this comfort and consistency for me. 
  2. I surf waaaay too much on my front foot. This is a clear fault in my approach as it serves almost no purpose to performance. I've tried to fix this issue consciously for the past couple of years to negligible success. And on a twin-fin, a front-footed approach is a means to bogs and slide-outs galore. Hence my distaste for them. 

But when I picked up the JS Black Baron, it just looked so... sexy. Sleek. Seductive. 

Standing at 5'5 and weighing roughly 140 lbs (63 kg), I took my Baron at 5'2 x 19.25 x 2.15 x 23.5L—a slight bump in volume to my typical rip-stick (to account for the meager conditions in which I planned to use it). 

Still, the board felt incredibly slender under my arm and had sharp, finely-cut features, especially near the tail. For a PU board, it was remarkably light. A performance twin indeed.

I vainly told myself that I would learn to enjoy the Black Baron board at all costs. It was too beautiful not to. And as it turned out, the learning curve was surprisingly small. By half-way through my first session, I could string together a couple of decent maneuvers. By session two, I was flying. Like a wounded gull, but airborne nonetheless!

While the board was masterfully designed by the Australian powerhouse, Jason Stevenson, at least some of my success must be attributed to my choice in twin-rudders.  

futures product thumb blackstix machado twin

Futures' Machado twins (2+1) were my preferred match for the Black Baron.

Photography Futures Fins

Session one, I went with Futures' Akila Aipa twin-fins, for the mere fact that they looked gorgeous against the jet-black deck. These fins were made from pure fiberglass, meaning they were stiff, and the wide base greatened their rigidity.

Frankly, I didn't know what to think of the Aipas' performance in that surf, as I had no frame of reference for what a set of twin fins should feel like in the Black Baron, if at all. My main takeaway was that the fins held held held, until they didn't, and then the whole board released at once, often sending me head-over-heels into the flats. The Aipas weren't bad by any means, but they didn't feel ideal, either. 

In session two, I switched out the Aipas for the Machado twins, mainly because we were surfing along Rob's self-proclaimed "One Mile Miracle" between Seaside and Swamis. The Machados were quite different from the Aipas, in the sense that they were made from a significantly-more-flexible Blackstix construction and had a concave V2 foil (meaning the inner part of the fin was carved out), which facilitates speed generation.

The combination of a more flexible and agile fin provided incredible performance benefits. Not only was I going faster and turning more sharply, but I was actually holding better off the bottom and on my rail. Futures rep Brian Robbins believes that stems from some combination of the flex and foil, but I can't be sure. All I know is the Machados worked better for me. 

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When correctly anticipated, the twin's instant of release can feel oh so sweet.

Photography Ben Judkins

Prior to riding the JS Black Baron, I believed that the whole point of surfing was to rip hard as you possibly could every single session. Twin-fins, in my mind, were a direct affront to that pursuit.

Frankly, I still feel that way about performance equating to fun, but I've learned that twin-fins needn't be a hindrance to your aquatic assault—the JS Black Barron is plenty capable of airing, chucking the fins, and lacerating a hapless shoulder. On a small right point, I struggle to think of a board that'd go better. 

Coming to understand and accept the twin-fin took me 25 years, but I'm glad I've finally taken the leap. 

When will you?

Get your Baron here. 

Match it with Machados here. 

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