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.

Close READER POLL 2017
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.

What Dane Reynolds Really Thought Of The Stab In The Dark Winning Board

If Stab In The Dark is the main event, then please consider the Shaper Series as special features.

Presumably you’ve already watched our 36-minute film, in which Dane Reynolds takes 13 of the world’s best (unbranded) surfboards to South Africa for 10 days of rigorous and unbiased testing and flexing.

In the Shaper Series, a joint with our pals at SWELL, we delve a little deeper on the other side of the coin; we step into the shapers' bays and syphon their thoughts and reasoning around their art, and the board they shaped for Stab In The Dark 2016.

So, what did we tell our shapers? Boards to be delivered by June 1 in either LA or Sydney. Surfer is 6’0” and 190 lbs (86 kg), but will remain anonymous. Shoot location, South Africa. Surfboard must be 6’0” but width, thickness and volume all open to interpretation. Oh, and blank, blank, blank. Completely void of all branding or recognisable features like unique carbon patches. This is not a paid-for board guide – our readers are too savvy to make informed decisions based off that. Yes, there will be honesty. Every board will have positives and conversely, every board will have negatives. And, there’s a chance the board could break first wave, first turn, first air. If it does, apologies, you’re out.

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"Honestly I had no idea it was Dane," recounted Jon Pyzel. "I would have made him a stubby. Instead I made him something more standard, more streamline than I would have had I known it was him."

Presenting the shaper behind board #74, the man currently crafting tools for the world's best surfer, and as of this year, the man who won the heart of Dane Reynolds; Jon Pyzel – of course we were going to save the (subjectively) best for last! Interestingly, Dane had an opportunity to trial last year's submission from the Hawaiian – and he hated it. To the point where he called for its cremation. This year, after rigorous blind-testing, he deemed Jon's shape (which was actually based off last year's silhouette) the best of the elite bunch. 

“I actually based this board off the same one I submitted last year,” said Mr Pyzel. “The same rocker and everything. I was literally thinking about the same board. Since I knew there was a good chance it was going to be ridden in good waves, I based it off my best board for that: The Bastard. Which is the main model that John John Florence rides when the surf’s decent. I used arctic foam, which is good for hand shaping and copied the bastard rocker, bottom contour and outlines as closely as I could. The final measurements were 6’0” x 19” x 2.38” with full rails and a little extra volume under the chest area. I was a little concerned it might be too much foam overall but decided too much was better than not enough. I was in a hurry to get it done in time - especially after sending last year’s board too late and not getting it in.”

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“With computers, we learned about volume, and know what volume works for what weight," said Jon. "Hand shaping you question it and have to work it until it feels right.”

“I’m pretty sure it’s a Timmy Patterson," Dane stated as he pulled the #74 board out of the final four. "Its my vote to be the best board out of the bunch. It looks good, the volume feels good and it’s drivey. There’s a lot of lift out of the tail, but I just didn’t have any confidence on it and felt like I was nursing my turns. It’d go well with smaller fins, sometimes when there’s a lot of lift out of the tail, smaller fins help.”

According to his field notes, Dane had awarded the Pyzel five out of five in the areas of 'Overall Responsiveness' and 'Twitch Warning Level', the rest received fours, this lifted the overall average to four and a half out of five, the highest result of the 13. 

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“I told you guys to burn it,” laughed Dane at the premiere screening referring to last year's Pyzel cleanskin, turning to Jon, “I only rode a few waves on it, but it’s funny that I liked your's best.”

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"He looked like he was relaxed on mine," recounts Jon. "It worked.”

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