The 10 Best-Selling Surfboards of 2018
And the winner is…
It’s a goddamn good time to be a lover of surfboards. Fishes, quads, grovelers, performers, there are so many talented people building so many great boards these days, there’s no excuse for riding a Wave Storm. To celebrate these joy machines that are so intricately designed for our amusement, it’s time for Stab’s 2018 Top-Selling Surfboard list.
To get an accurate read on what’s happening out there in the shops and lineups, Stab hit the street. We talked to surfboard labels. We talked to surfboard sellers. We talked to surfboard obsessives. We gathered and compiled data from around the world. We factored in distribution channels and the size of production facilities. We left no stone unturned.
The following are Stab’s 2018 Top-Selling Surfboard:
*Please note: no SUP, softboard, longboard or foil board sales were taken into consideration, strictly, performance shortboards only.
Channel Islands: Rocket Wide
Debuting last spring, the Rocket Wide has been a hit for Channel Islands. In 2018, the board made up 20-percent of C.I.’s total board sales and continues to carry a lot of momentum into the new year. A derivative of the Rocket 9, which was originally developed with input from the Gudauskas brothers, the boys also helped in the design process of the Rocket Wide. The goal, like most things the Gudangs do, was to make something a little more fun and keep the stoke firing. Featuring a wider tail, a wider nose, more volume under the chest and less rocker, it’s meant to be ridden wider and shorter. Fast and skatey in waves without much push, it’s become a go-to for a lot of the CI team when then conditions are less than all-time. “It’s a dream boat,” said Dane Gudauskas when we caught with him. “For those days you want a little extra honey in the pot, the Rocket Wide is the machine. We just wanted to have something made everyday surf really fun, but you could still fully put it on rail and surf it. We always have one in our board bag.”
Slater Designs: Cymatic
Another creative joint between Kelly Slater and shaper Daniel Thomson, the world got its first glimpse of the Cymatic last January when footage of Kelly ripping overhead Haleiwa surfaced. When it was discovered that the board he was on was a new model the rush was on. “The Cymatic’s been killing it for us this year, it’s been really, really well received,” explained Slater Design’s Travis Lee. With its shortened nose and wider tail, it looks similar to other boards Kelly and Tomo have designed together, but thanks to increased tail rocker it responds differently through turns and in tight, critical section. Whippy and ungodly fast, Slater Designs labels it an “alternative shortboard,” whatever that means in this day and age. The Cymatic flies in small, grovely waves, but as evidence by Kelly’s performance in the video (shot shortly before he had the second surgery on his foot to remove all the hardware that as in there), the board holds in larger powerful surf as well. “It’s just one of those boards that feels good in the water, pretty much no matter where you’re surfing. I think people like knowing that they can trust a board that’s going to be there for them, but also allow them to surf creatively and have a lot of fun at the same time,” added Lee.
...Lost: Puddle Jumper HP
When flow and having fun is the goal, the Puddle Jumper HP has become a fan favorite this year. Matt Biolos makes a lot of boards that make surfing fun, but the Puddle Jumper is that hard-to-find balance that allows you to catch a zillion waves, but also rip the shit out of them. The most striking thing about this board is its lines. It’s got that perfect blend that just beckons to be ridden when you see it across the room. “The Puddle Jumper HP can take the domesticated gentleman into a realm thought long gone,” marvels ...Lost. “Speed, with quickness, fast but loose, precise but playful.” Masterfully foiled rails, deep vee, deep concave, a tail with some kick, she’s fast and loose, just like you want your small-wave magic carpet.
JS: HyFi Monsta Box
Three years ago, JS Industries released the Monsta Box. It became their best seller right away and has remained their ever since. The board has since been released in their HYFI epoxy construction, which has become the go-to for Jules Wilson, Mikey Wright, Ace Buchan and cohorts. Recognized by retailers as the most sought-after board in Oz, earlier this year, it was named the Surf & Boardsports Industry Association Inc (SBIA) Board of the Year in Australia. More an everyday blade than a contest blade, the buzz around the board has helped drive sales. “It’s got a flat-ish rocker, single to double concave, pretty good contours…it just works,” surmises Jason Stevenson.
Rob Machado Surfboards: The Seaside
Looking to add a little four-fin flavor to his life, Rob Machado, who admittedly has never been a lover of quads, went into his shaping room in Cardiff and eventually came out with what he dubbed, The Seaside. Named after his beloved reef just a few clicks up Coast Highway, Machado was after something a little higher performance than the Go Fish that he'd become heavily dependent on. The Seaside was just that. With a more refined outline and pulled in nose and tail, the board allows for tighter radius turns and more drive through critical sections. With the design tested and refined in a myriad of conditions, including fun-sized Teahupoo and average Seaside, Machado brought the board to his partners at Firewire, where they began building them using their Helium construction technology. Light and full of life, as well as durable, the Helium construction helped raise the bar on The Seaside. The other element to Machado’s design was the fins. Concerned he wasn’t going to be able to find a quad setup he liked, Machado took it upon himself to design the fins specifically for the board. Cutdown from the keel fin he rides on his Go Fish, “I’m not really a crazy fin designer, but I just kind of went for it,” explained Machado. It all seems to be working as shops throughout the U.S. have struggled to keep The Seaside in stock since it came out, making it one of the most in-demand models on this list.
The continued success of Jon Pyzel’s Ghost model is a testament to the board’s functionality in a multitude of conditions and John John Florence’s enduring popularity. The world didn’t see nearly as much of John John as they would have liked this year, nevertheless, the Ghost continued to fly out the door at shops. Constituting an estimated 30-percent of Pyzel’s total board sales, they literally couldn’t make enough of them. “As soon as shops would get them, they’d be gone,” said Pyzel. “My shaping machines went down in December and now I’m looking at stacks of Ghost orders.” The only board on this list that features a distinct wide point forward of center. A moderate entry rocker keeps the nose up on takeoff, a smooth rear rocker curve for responsiveness and hold in tight arcs, while a double barrel concave and pulled in tail round out the offering. “We try and really stay focused on not having too many models, and with the success of The Ghost it’s all working out pretty good right now,” added Pyzel.
Channel Islands: Neck Beard 2
When Britt Merrick shaped Dane Reynolds and updated Neck Beard for the Electric Surfboard Acid Test it was like an old friend showing back up on the scene. Dane ripped the thing, but moreover, the fans couldn’t get enough. The Neck Beard 2 wasn’t released until later in the year in 2018, but it quickly climbed to the top of Channel Islands sales charts, overtaking the Rocket Wide. If he had come out earlier in the year it would probably be much higher on this list. This version of the Neck Beard features a few design tweaks that have helped smooth out its performance. The most obvious change is a slightly wider tail and small hips above the fins. This allows the rail line to have more of a pivot point and release through turns. The other big thing that changed was that the original Neck Beach featured a single to double concave, but in this version, Britt ditched the double concave and just kept it single throughout. With much acclaim, the Neck Beach 2 showed up under Eithan Osborne’s feet during the Stab High comp in Waco, Texas. According to our contacts at C.I., over the last couple of months it’s been hard to crank out enough of them.
Yes, there’s still room in this world for a standard, dependable shortboard. And the Sub-Driver is as dependable as they get. When QS and CT battlers swear by the design, obviously Matt Biolos has done something right. The board’s been around for years, but continues to be the go-to for every day, working man’s surf conditions. Pro surfers love the board, and that brings credibility, and credibility drives sales, so not only are all the “bros” on them, but so are the groms throwing sand at each other in the juniors. The Sub-Driver has got the uncanny ability to build speed and allow for solid rail turns while also being free above the lip. If you see Kolohe Andino out at T-Street, chances are he’s Subdrivering…unless Mark Richards is corrupting him. Perfect for those average days of average surf, it’s the shorter, wider sister to the Driver, with wide hips and a full-bottomed tail. The bottom’s got a dash of single concave up front and ample double concave through the bottom for drive and speed.
DHD: Mick Fanning DNA
Just because you buy the Mick Fanning DNA model by Darren Handley Designs doesn’t mean you’ll surf like him. That seems obvious, but it’s hardly stopped anyone from dreaming a little dream. The best-selling model in the DHD lineup, this was Mick’s go-to board on tour and continues to be a staple in his quiver. And Mick’s not the only one that enjoys the boards well-refined, high-performance characteristics. Jack Freestone, Kyuss King, Matty Wilkinson and others keep the model in their quiver for those perfect waist- to head-high days where being able to drive off the bottom and into a committed rail carve is what it’s all about.
Sharp Eye: #77
Come, fly like Filipe. The #77 is what Filipe rode to turn J-Bay on its head two years running and has become a favorite of the fans of shaper Marcio Zouvi. Yes, Filipe’s high-flying success has been a large part of the success, but “Kanoa [Igarashi] coming on board has been huge for the U.S. and Japanese market,” explained Brendan Leckie, head shaper in Australia. “Filipe holds his own on sales but with the dramatic improvement and success of Kanoas surfing along with Tatiana [Weston Webb] has opened up a large chunk of the international market, along with bringing a validity that it’s not just a one-man band.” The #77 was born out of his need for an all-around performer.