Soft, not flimsy.
Joyride: An Honest Review Of The Modom Deadly Mondo
Examining the outer limits of foam-board performance.
What is the ethos of the adult soft-shortboarder?
This question ravaged my brain through the five-or-so sessions that I rode the Modom Deadly Mondo. Because the simple fact is this: regardless of brand or design, foam boards are objectively worse than their fiberglass counterparts at almost every notable aspect of surfing — turns, tubes, airs, etc.
Do not let Jamie O. and Chippa Wilson fool you.
After significant research and contemplation, I’ve developed three theories for why an adult human would spend a not-insignificant sum on a performance foamy – the first two are directly related to ego and the third is what I believe to be a marketing-spawned fallacy, though others perceive it as a universal truth.
Theory 1: You’re embarrassed by your own surfing abilities, and therefore choose to handicap yourself with a highly visible crutch, so that viewers are forced to consider it's the board that sucks and not you.
Theory 2: You’re so enamored by your own surfing abilities that you want to “test” yourself with a more-difficult-to-ride craft and/or impress other surfers by ripping a minimally functional stick.
Theory 3: You actually think it’s fun.
Me n my foamy.
As proven by my personal experience, all three theories can apply to the same person at different points in time, but then again I didn’t have to buy this board. Modom’s founder, the notable Jackson Perry, gave me this snake-skin buoy in return for an honest review on Stab.
Before agreeing to this Joyride, I informed Jackson of my bias against softboards, and how I’d never been able to get down a line let alone do a turn on one of the things.
Jackson steeled his spine and told me to try my best. I figured that he must either genuinely believe his Deadly Mondo is superior to other foamies on the market, or he subscribed to the Trumpian “any publicity is good publicity” logic.
Either way, I had to respect it. So I tried my fucking best.
The first session, as I’ve experienced with every other softy in existence, resulted in me falling on drops, losing balance unnecessarily, and bogging every inch of those fat ass rails.
I then emailed Jackson, citing several complaints and begging for helpful tips.
“Try bigger fins so you can turn off the tail more, and try to surf off your back foot,” Jackson told me.
When all else fails, grab your rail!
My tendency in surfing, and I’m aware it’s a bad one, is to hunch forward and put most of the weight on my front foot. Because of this my back foot is rarely ever planted to the deck, but rather cocked forward as if it were dead or limp. Such a position might work for tubes or shooting down the line, but it will also kill your control through bottom turns and, apparently, limit your soft top abilities.
So I made a conscious shift, which, after building 20+ years of muscle-memory in a particular discipline, is no easy task.
Alas, after much effort and bodily confusion, I had more or less figured out the problem. With the Deadly Mondo, and perhaps with soft tops in general, your weight needs to be on the tail at all times. Whether pumping down the line or laying into a turn, your fins must be the board’s primary source of connection and drive, not its over-buoyant rails.
I must admit, this revelation was fantastically exciting in the moment. I couldn’t believe that I was going fast(ish), turning hard(ish), even throwing little airs(ish) on a be-skegged boogie. It was all light and playful and soft and... fun!
Warning: surfer in photo believes he is (way) deeper than appears.
At that point, I was actually starting to understand how people could be drawn to these things. It’s a new sensation, one; it makes you feel good to surf relatively well on one, two; and it’s pretty sick to be able to bounce off rocks, ride into the shorepound, and pull into closeouts sans fear of bodily or boardily harm, three.
Oh, and that snakeskin cover on the deck? Feels like fucking pillows under your feet. I’d put it on all my boards if I could.
But as time went on the Mondo’s spark began to fade. I grew tired of fumbling through cutties, getting stuck behind simple sections. Despite the Mondo being my best foamy experience to date, this board failed to maintain my desire to surf and ultimately left me frustrated.
Even the ol' reliable backhand snap couldn't change your author's mind.
Because at the end of the day, a softboard is a softboard is a softboard. No matter how you meticulously you design the thing, it’s still a slower, heavier, all-around worse version of your favorite fiberglass slider. And frankly, barring very special circumstances, I’ve concluded they’re just not for me.
But maybe you’re the type of gal who prefers a semi-flacid rod. In that case, I’d say the Mondo is your most luxurious option. It looks good, feels comfy underfoot, and allows for some occasionally radical surfing.
Below is an objective breakdown of its characteristics.
Can Joe Shmo make it go? (Hint: A "low" pedestrian scale score = more user-friendly!)
As mentioned above, and for reasons related to my particular(ly bad) surfing habits, the Mondo was difficult for me to figure out. However for any “back-footed” surfer, it would be like hopping on a softer, heavier, slightly worse version of your typical stick. Not hard but kind of annoying.
Does is float like a butterfly or sink like a tree?
The Mondo makes it difficult to generate speed, and because of its weight, this board is also difficult to get airborne. Then, when landing, the fauxberglass construction has something of a bounce-back effect, which can be tough on the ankles and knees. The one benefit of the Mondo is its snakeskin shell, which makes your feet extra cozy upon descent.
How much zip has this stick?
When you get comfortable on the Mondo, there is a certain amount of spark to be found. These flickers of life were short lived, but on the right wave, when everything aligned just so, I could feel that divine connection between human and craft, allowing me to make quick transitions with an unconscious mind.
Does it part water like Moses or skitter across the surface?
After Modom's Jackson Perry taught me to turn off the tail, I came to realize that a semi-legitimate carve was possible on the Mondo. I don’t know if I’d call it “railwork” per se (maybe tailwork) but on the right section and with the right weight distribution, it was indeed possible to rip one back into the whitewater or even out of the lip. I wouldn’t bring it out to J-Bay or anything, but in chest-high beachies it does the job.
Should you take it to H.B. or HI?
Surfing the Mondo at overhead HB Pier made clear the fact that it has size limitations. Carrying tons of speed over a slightly bumpy surface, this board convulsed under my feet like a tongues-talking pastor. However, when in the chest-to-head-high range, the Mondo starts to regain control. Ideally you want waves that are small enough to manhandle, but powerful enough that you don’t have to create your own speed.
If any or all of that sounds enticing, you can order your own Modom Deadly Mondo here.