How I Fell In Love With JS’s Hyfi Monsta 6
Shitty name, extraordinary surfboard.
It’s uncomfortable to talk about your personal surfing performance. And, there’s never really a good time to discuss how well a surfboard works. Dinner conversation is far more engaging with bungled rock jumps and the loss of fins rather than how well a board performs. It would be remiss of me, however, not to share my experience with the new Hyfi technology by JS. I’ve had other boards that have captured my imagination, but not at this level.
A few years back I had a 5’11” Chilli that was specifically created for Solander in Sydney. It paddled like a 6’6” because of the substantial volume under the chest, and because of its pulled-in tail it had drive and handled late drops like a 5’10”. It was also incredible in waves like eight-foot-plus Cloudbreak. And, a Mayhem I stole from Kolohe Andino was a delight to ride until I ground it to its death. Very critical friends of mine have said my surfing performance is 30 percent better on this Hyfi. And, as awkward as this is to admit in writing – I know, I know this is coming off a very low base – I’ll take 30 percent any day of the week.
Now for some context, I recently moved from Australia to California, where Stab‘s had an office for the past three years. Although I’ve spent a lot of time in the US, there was a lot about wave forecasting I didn’t quite get. A six-foot wave in California is a two-to-three foot wave in Australian scale, which takes some getting used to. Unlike East Coast Australia, increased swell period isn’t good for a lot of waves and let’s not talk about getting into the minutiae of swell angles and Channel Islands’ blockage – it’s a minefield. Locals rule; tourists struggle. Which I have. And as a result, my surfing enthusiasm has waned.
I travelled back to Oz to have a kid recently; I didn’t take boards. There was a new JS waiting for me in the Stab office. I rode it a lot; it felt great. At first, I thought it was just surfing better quality waves. I rode it every session, loved it and brought it back to California. And, I haven’t ridden another board in the past four months. I can’t get off it. For me, it’s game changing, so I called JS to get a read on it. I asked how feedback has been so far. I asked whether anyone was blown away with similar experiences. JS was coy. “That’s hard to say,” he said laughing. “Not many people have ridden them yet. It’s hard to say these boards go better than PU because y’know, far out, that’s what we build. ”
Construction-wise, it’s a stringer-less epoxy over traditional polyurethane. Earlier in the year, the market was swamped with new technology all mostly unveiled at the Surf Trade Expo in Orlando. Almost every major board manufacturer released their epoxies with black stripes, carbon patches and stringer-less construction at the Floridian tradeshow this year. From Mayhem to DHD to CI – all the big boys had alternative construction and were making noise about them. Full disclosure: I haven’t ridden any of these boards. And, to be honest, I’ve never taken much notice. The construction and the accoutrements built into them gave the feeling of a car loaded with every last after-market accessory. However, I left the aesthetics aside and got into it. Despite feeling like Stu Kennedy at the Quik Pro on the Gold Coast, this board has a spark unlike any I’ve ridden in a very long time.
Pretty clean after four months on high rotation, shot crudely with an iphone against a wall in the Stab office in LA.
Typically, when a shaper starts talking tech, I get lost quickly. When JS breaks down the Hyfi technology, it all aligns perfectly to the board’s performance. “It’s a multi-layer construction. We’ve coined it a new age exoskeleton. It’s a combination of the white diamond cross weave on the bottom (a light mesh you can only really see up close), along with two strips of carbon on the bottom. When we started testing, it was fucken flexi as all hell. We started layering it up until we had a springy, lively board. Then we kept layering it up, and added that other carbon strip to the deck to straighten it up even more. It’s stiffened them up so that they go in a better range of waves.”
JS says “the rails are softer, boxier, more volume,” so let’s talk about how it performs: This is a surfboard that moves well. The epoxy means it floats well and catches waves easily.
From the moment you get to your feet, the speed out of the gates is different. The board has electricity in it. And, I’m not talking that same electricity that say, an epoxy quad has. It’s a spark that produces controlled speed, different to that weird twin-fin speed you can get on small wave boards. It’s different than the feeling you get on a small wave epoxy board that sits flat on the water and lacks drive. This board wants to get on rail and it operates like a narrow, streamlined board. If you’re a skilled surfer like a Mick or a Joel, that carving wrap in the pocket is simple but for the everyday surfer, not so much. You know, that steep part of the wave just below the lip? The flex of this board pushes back and allows you to do a turn there. It’s most certainly a pedestrian version of the Fanning carve but nevertheless, it flows through that tricky section naturally.
Backside, the board holds its speed and accelerates as you bottom turn and drive north up the lip. This is a board whose flex builds speed throughout a turn.
Back to the construction, I’m notoriously hard on boards. One session I dented the nose after putting my heel into it. A week later, bar a few tiny stress marks under the glass; it was gone. The density of the epoxy foam had pushed back out, something I’d never experienced. After surfing this one board for four months, the deck had caved under the front foot and some duck diving with the knee, but besides a dirty wax job and zinc smears the board is basically clean.
And before you think I’m melting because I got a decent epoxy custom from a big name shaper, stay with me. The week before picking up this board I got a 5’11” JS epoxy made for Julian Wilson during a shoot we did with Kai Lenny in Bali on a foil. The board was nice looking, went fast and felt decent, but, not otherworldly by any means. Because of Stab, I get to try boards of better quality than a surfer of my skill level should. Last year I got to test drive the entire fleet of the Stab in the Dark boards while Julian Wilson was judging them in Western Australia. Even though the DHD and Mayhem were first and second in this competition, my favourites were the Channel Islands and the Dahlberg, both of which finished poorly.
The reason I share this story isn’t to drop names but rather illustrate the fact that maybe the board models we’re buying are validated by big name surfers who don’t actually relate to you and I. The most telling thing about this surfboard is its forgiveness. I believe Mayhems specialise in this broad sweet spot of surfboards. Similarly and even more pronounced, this JS allows you to make mistakes. It’s like the Lower Trestles of surfboards: never too treacherous, always easy to ride.
Height: 6’0 Weight: 78 kilos (170 lbs). Dims: 5’11 x 18 7/8 x 2 3/8.
If I was reading this story I’d assume the writer could be particularly inspired and was going through a confident patch. To offset this, I handed the board around. A friend on the north coast of New South Wales was up first. He’s a good surfer and the second wave he rode he put together a frontside wrap, a big tail-out frontside finner and finished off with an oop off the back of the wave. He paddled back into the lineup genuinely buzzing. “You’re not lying about this board,” he said before reluctantly taking off the leash to return it. I gave it to Perth Standlick, a very recently-retired QS surfer. He only had a chance to catch one wave because of a very crowded Sydney city beach, but he was also impressed despite the board being quite a bit too big for him. “Oh wow,” he said. “It has this flex acceleration as you bottom turn. It feels amazing.”
“It’s designed for waves like Sydney and California,” says JS, unprompted. Which makes sense, however, I’m yet to test the board on a wave over four feet.
“This board’s been designed with Julian,” JS continued. “From the design’s perspective, we’ve looked at just making something that is seamless. It was just about creating a board that had no catch whatsoever. He doesn’t need the board to be that easy to turn; he just needs it to drive.”
I ask JS whether this is more suited to the everyday guy rather than a Julian. “It’s definitely built for him,” he says. “But like you’re saying, it’s forgiving for a lesser-than-pro guy.” And that’s what I like about this. If it was loved by Julian, he’d be riding it in world tour heats. Yet each event through Europe, he’d show up on his standard PU. And that’s because he needs something that’s too tuned up. He needs a tiny sweet spot because the best surfers in the world are critical in a way that you or I never will be. The same reason that a shaper will release a new model and their team riders will always talk up the technology or the shape. When they’re being paid $1000 a week or whatever it is, big-name pros will always make the board work and get behind it. The trap to this is the demand from retailers to have new models. New models are what create energy at the sales register. Each year retailers are begging for new board models; the shapers have to rethink their hits and the pros have to give them the tick of approval. Besides Hayden Cox, who continues to pump out but not rename the Hypo Krypto, most old board models are superseded by new models. Surfers and shapes have also told me they wish they could ride board models from two or three years ago.
That’s why I wrote this story. Talking about improving your surfing is not pleasant. Talking about how you’re surfing better is a sure way to lose an audience, fast. This is a board that has done something no board in the past 10 years has for me. Have I encouraged my friends to order one of these boards? Absolutely. It’s expensive, sure, but I rationalise it as a price per use. If you ride this board five times a week for a year, you’re looking at three or four bucks a session. To move across a wave quickly and be able to harness that speed sounds like some pretty good economics to me.
We have become obsessed with this board. Before any variables could come in (new foam, diff glassers) we ordered up big from JS.
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