Meet The Surfboard Most Preferred By The World’s Best Aerialists (Again!)
Dane Reynolds designed, Waco approved.
Amongst the divine chaos of this year’s Stab High, one glaring truth revealed itself over the three day pool party. Of the some two dozen visiting aerialists in town for the circus, nearly half of them had lugged the very same Channel Islands model through Austin International Airport: The Neckbeard 2.
While we had delighted in Eithan Osborne’s performance on the chop-tailed thruster—which netted him $20k for highest air at Stab High last year—it was somewhat of a shock to see how pervasive the design had become in the year since, amongst Channel Islands’ star-studded team.
Looking around the Waco pool, Parker Coffin, Tanner Gudauskas, Leon Glatzer, Kael Walsh, Bobby Martinez, Eithan, and the design’s originator, Dane Reynolds had all schlepped a couple for the weekend, in both traditional poly as well as Spine-Tek.
Even little Ladybird Bella Kenworthy was hucking around the cutest sub-5′ Neckbeard 2 you’ve ever seen.
“What if this just became the Wave Pool Model?” Dane laughed.
So how did the Neckbeard 2—an update on an almost decade-old design that even at the time of release was considered by many to be a novelty—become the most popular air board in the world?
Last spring, we set about compiling the quiver for Dane Reynolds to drag to mainland Mexico, for the first of what will be many of our Electric Acid Surfboard Tests.
Where Stab in the Dark is our self-proclaimed Master Chef of surfboard design, EAST was and is intended to be more of an Ugly Delicious-type explorational, and at times educational, dip into the deep end of surfing’s myriad design niches.
You’ll remember with Dane’s Stab in the Dark, that out of genuine concerns over the countless issues Channel Islands winning under Dane’s feet would create for the film, that the CI boys submitted a 5-finned Bonzer, a collaborative model with the Campbell Brothers. The board was never going to win, but it served as a nice change of pace from the other nine 5’11 thrusters Dane had been trying to weed through in search of a favorite.
Here’s a little reminder:
With two coffins stuffed with twinnies, asymms, mid-lengths, hulls, ad nauseum, we wanted an unorthodox yet familiar outlier design, something that would serve as something like a mirror to the other nine left-field designs. So, we asked Britt Merrick and the CI boys to whip up a fresh take on the Neckbeard, the famously crude 2011 model that left many a hi-fi enthusiast a little, well, confused, but which Dane had previously demolished the very same points we were headed to in “Lost Interest.”
For our experiment, the Neckbeard stood in as “basically just a modified shortboard” (Dane), and the closest thing to a conventional performance design; in the spirit of EAST‘s pursuit of new sensations, Dane would never pick it as his favorite, but that wouldn’t stop him from putting it properly through its paces.
The story behind the original Neckbeard is a gem of a tale, click in above for the long yarn.
Dane’s performance on the board last year was, well, electric. Noa Deane called it the best surfing Dane’s done, “maybe ever”: Raw, dizzyingly spontaneous, powerful, and full-speed ahead.
After the trip, when Channel Islands saw the footage and got the feedback, they smartly went into production of the updated model, and almost overnight the Neckbeard 2 found itself at the top of their Best Seller’s List.
It also found itself under the feet of one of its newest additions to the team.
Then-eighteen-year-old Eithan Osborne, blitzing the Waco wedge on his first Neckbeard 2.
“The Neckbeard 2 was one of the first boards I ordered when I got on Channel Islands,” Eithan tells Stab. “I wanted one because I’d watched Dane Reynolds ride it, and I was curious about whether I could ride one that well, and it ended up being one of my favorite boards ever. I hadn’t seen anyone else ride one other than Dane; it was like this lost diamond in CI’s catalog.”
“I think in small waves, the Spine-Tek helps because it’s so light and loose, and the pop you get from the wide tail is better than any board I’ve ever ridden. I rode it for the first time in Waco before the comp, and I just knew that it could go higher than any poly board that other people were riding. As far as everyone getting them for the Stab High this year, I don’t know if I was the guy to get people to ride them or whatever, but it was pretty dope to see everyone getting one and loving it. I don’t think I’ve heard a bad thing about the board [laughs].”
Getting their first invitations to Stab High this year, Parker Coffin and Tanner Gudang destroyed freesurfs on Neckbeard 2s, leading up to the event, as did Dane himself, though he unfortunately buckled two of them—a stock Spine-Tek and a poly, respectively—and was relegated to riding a borrowed LSD from Noa Deane.
As for Parker and Tanner, the two gushed freely about theirs post-Stab High.
“Doing airs on a Neckbeard 2 is smoother than single malt,” Tanner says. “Spine-Tek makes you feel like you’ve lost ten pounds and are in the best shape of your life. All in all, I think it’s ruined every other board for me that I might have ridden in wave pools (until the Apocalypse Pool).”
“Neckbeards are the shit,” says Parker. “I’ve had good poly ones, and good Spine-Tek ones. It’s a good air board because it has a super straight rail line, you get a shit ton of speed, and with the width it feels super glidey but still drivey, and there’s still rocker so it fits in the pocket and gets tons of pop.”
While the model has a special place in the hearts of some of the world’s best aerialists, what does the model offer for the aspirational if only slightly above average surfer? A fast, loose, nimble performance groveler with no performance ceiling. According to moles deep within the family-run Channel Islands operation, the model is a Everyman smash hit across all of their regions internationally, a fact they directly attribute to the board’s performance in both the Acid Test and the Waco Pool at Stab High. And that makes us very happy.
You can order your Neckbeard 2 in Channel Islands’ myriad constructions, here.
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