(Relatively) eco-friendly and easy to ride. Film: Ben Judkins, Music: Lennon Stankavich
Joyride: An Honest Review Of The Pyzel Phantom
A most user-friendly board.
How many times have you waxed up a brand new sled, chucked in your favorite fins and lucky leash, and paddled out on a fun day at your local... only to take off on the first wave and feel like you’re riding a coffee table backwards.
And it’s not that the board’s even bad, per se.
After a few sessions it may start to feel as good as, if not better than, boards you’ve ridden in the past, but for the duration of that first session exists a profound disconnect between you and the novel craft. It’s not uncommon.
In fact, for those of us not in the top 0.01% of surfers, this is completely normal. New boards are hardly ever “magic” from the first wave. But I recently had an experience that made me question if that coffee table period was ever really necessary in the first place.
Enter Pyzel’s new hybrid craft, The Phantom.
This ghoulish craft is an average wave iteration of Pyzel's adore-d Ghost.
Paraphrasing from shaper to the 2x World Champ John John Florence, and himself the 2x Stab in the Dark champion, Jon Pyzel, the Phantom is what you’d get if Tai Van Dyke held Florence’s sacred Ghost by the nose and tail and slowly squeezed his arms together, creating a, “squashed down, souped-up, great for your everyday sessions” surfboard.
While it maintains the Ghost’s forward wide-point and relatively slimmed tail, Pyzel’s Phantom boasts ample girth through the midsection, making it appear more grovelly than performance.
Frankly, at first glance, the Phantom appeared a little... fat to me.
Is ‘fat’ not a good word for 2018? Fine then, plus-sized. The Phantom looked rather plus-sized to me. So much so that I feared it would not hold in the macking (read: slightly overhead) south swell conditions predicted to hit San Diego in the coming days.
This fear was exacerbated by the Phantom’s epoxy construction, which is infamous for skipping out in waves of a certain magnitude. Nevermind that Marko’s new Re-cy tech is significantly less harmful to the environment, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to set a rail on this foamy behemoth.
And... what’s the fucking point of that?
But then I paddled out and, without the slightest whiff of exaggeration, it felt like this board was fused to my hairy little feet.
There were no first-surf kinks, no awkward bogs off the bottom, middle, or even the top. For perhaps the first time in my life, I had found a surfboard that was completely in tune with my body’s natural motions from Wave One.
It was a glorious feeling.
John Florence knows the feeling.
As I surfed the Phantom more and more, that feeling of oneness remained wholly intact, but I can’t say our ever relationship developed after that initial session. Everything I wanted the board to do it more or less did, but in that same vein, the Phantom never surprised me in a positive or negative way.
There was no extra oomph to be gained from the rail, no secret speed-slot yet to be realized, nor was there a distinct foot placement adding extra pop to my little midget airs.
With the Phantom, I can’t say I gained or lost ground in any particular surfing attribute. In other words, this board allowed me to surf at exactly my own skill level in every aspect of the sport – not an inch higher or lower.
Now, when considering purchasing a new surfboard, a review like that may deter the buyer, as it doesn’t make the board sound flashy or exciting. But before jumping to that rash conclusion, I implore the reader to consider the following:
Think of the last instance that you purchased a surfboard, and ask yourself, In what ways did it improve my surfing abilities, and in what ways did it impede?
Those pros and cons probably come close to 50/50, right? That’s normal, and from my experience, many new boards actually create more problems than they solve.
Unfortunately only a foam board can solve the problem of a human buoy.
For instance, a board might be great on rail – better than all your previous sticks, even – but it won’t carry speed for shit. Another board could be great at airs but awful at picking up chicks. (Women, like judges, go cold at the sight of a round-nosed fish).
So as a consumer, did you win or lose in those transactions?
The answer probably depends on how much disposable income you have to build a “complete” quiver, but for the guy who buys one or two surfboards a year, those specialty boards might not have been the wisest purchase decisions.
Now imagine if you could buy a board that takes all the best parts of your current surfing abilities and makes them accessible in a singular craft.
That, my friends, would be a thrifty purchase.
And it’s exactly what you’ll get with the Pyzel Phantom – a hybrid performance craft that beckons the statistically savvy surf addict.
It’s incredibly good in every way without being extraordinary in a single one. Except being ridiculously easy to ride, of course.
Now, a breakdown:
How much zip has this stick?
Comprising a wide midsection and Marko epoxy core, the Phantom was designed to create and maintain a rabbit’s pace down the line. It also tends to pop off the lip during turns, sometimes with a surprising amount of force, compelling the rider to react quickly for fear of being left behind. The only place this board falls flat is in truly gutless surf, where it sits down in the water and loses its bogging immunity.
Should you take it to H.B. or HI?
Between waist and head-high, the Phantom is in heaven. Its shortened outline fits well in small pockets, and in average size waves it maintains an utmost control of its facilities, neither skipping out nor bogging down. In miniature surf the Phantom still works reasonably well but doesn’t excel, and above head high you’ll start to feel tremors in your bottom turn – a seemingly unavoidable trait of the shorter-wider surf craft. Just ask Kelly Slater.
Does it float like a butterfly or sink like a tree?
Yeah man, this thing fucking flies. The Phantom’s epoxy core, wide center, and shortened frame scream “Punt me!”, and as relative youths we must oblige. This is an extremely light surfboard, making a little flick off the lip easier done than said. On the Phantom I often find myself spinning more than anticipated, resulting in several almost-best airs of my life. Maybe someday I’ll land one or blow out a knee or whatever.
Can Joe Shmo make it go? (Hint: A "low" pedestrian scale score = more user-friendly!)
Despite its performance capabilities, the Phantom is remarkably user friendly. Though I can only speak from the perspective of my own skill level, I expect this board would suit the typical novice shortboarder just as well as the seasoned vet. The Phantom just feels incredibly comfortable underfoot, and like a Tempurpedic mattress I could see it meshing with whomever happens to be atop it at any given time. This is hands down the most user-friendly board I’ve ever experienced.
Does it part water like Moses or skitter across the surface?
Before paddling out on this broad-waisted stick, I was fearful that its combination of outline and construction would hinder my ability to bury a rail and drive through a turn. What I found was that, even in waves slightly over my disproportionately sized head, the Phantom could grip a wall if driven with a careful touch. Pushing too hard too early will lead to a disagreeable chatter or slide, but if you take the time to really dig in and set the rail, this board will let you drive through with your back foot and push some serious water. Bigger fins help.
If any or all of this sounds like your jam, snag a Phantom here.