Dare we say, a "magic board?"
Joyride: The Eye Symmetry "Lucid Eye" Board Review
"This board springs out of bed like a first-week cadet and deploys spray missiles like a Korean dictator."
What the fuck is going on here?
Is exactly what I thought upon receiving my Eye Symmetry "Lucid Eye", a 5’7 x 18.12 x 2.12 x 23L high-performance surf craft complete with a pink resin tint and what I could only describe as serrated rails (more on that later).
For those who don't know, Eye Symmetry is the foam-born brainchild of Max Stewart, a millennial board builder from Sydney’s northern beaches. After spending a few years working under Mona Vale’s finest shapers, including Haydenshapes’ mastermind Hayden Cox, Max saved up enough scratch to start his own board company with a unique vision – he wanted to create surfboards that are equally performance and art.
A majority of Eye Symmetry boards run with a pastel color palette, with lovely resin tints of pink, yellow, purple, and blue, often coupled with Max’s signature paint job – the gently flaming rail line. Perhaps that’s an ode to his patented ‘octo-rail’ technology, which, as vaguely described above as “serrated”, consists of a series of hard edges around the rail, creating an octagonal shape.
Yeah, it be like that.
So, what is the purpose behind this sander’s nightmare?
“The idea of the octo-rail is based on the idea to eliminate the curved surface of the rail and replace it with hard edges,” says Max. “This reduces drag which therefore increases speed and drive, enabling the surfer to engage in more critical maneuvers on the wave face.”
In other words, it’s golfball theory.
Back in the early days of golf, players used something called a ‘gutty ball’, which was made from the sap of gutta-percha plant. Eventually, golfers started realizing that their older gutta balls – the ones with knicks and scratches around their outer surface – flew further than new, unblemished balls. This led to the discovery that an uneven surface creates less drag, therefore allowing it to fly further in the air, which is why all golf balls have dimples today.
According to Max, the same principle applies to surfboard rails; I remained skeptical.
Only one way to find out.
Testing Day 1
Location: Costa Rica (North)
Waves: 3-5 ft. faces, peaky beachbreak
Fins: Futures F6 Legacy (Medium)
My first session on the Lucid Eye was frustrating. The waves were chest, maybe head high but extremely top-to-bottom, meaning there was little room to transition between the lip and the bottom of the wave. The Lucid Eye was a 5’7, which for me (5’5) is a “standard shortboard” length. As a result, I had trouble fitting “standard shortboard maneuvers” (i.e. long bottom turns followed by broad, sweeping carves) into the waves' succinct corners. Also, my Lucid eye was a PU build, making it a bit heavier, stiffer, and slower than the boards I’ve become accustomed to riding (I ride epoxy about 90% of the time at this point), none of which suited the current conditions.
Waves of this nature called for tight, snappy maneuvers. For me, those types of maneuvers are best performed on shorter-outlined epoxy crafts. Perhaps something like the Neck Beard 2, Cymatic, or Holy Grail would have fit better in these curvy pockets.
While it revealed no particular design flaws, the Lucid Eye was clearly not designed for these smallish, low-tide peaks. In order to give this board a proper testing, I'd need to find something taller with a little more slope, allowing the octo-rails to truly engage and work their geometric witchcraft.
Progress was made.
Testing Day 2
Location: Costa Rica (Central)
Waves: 6-8 ft. faces, stretched-out beachbreak with corners
A change in location was required to find the Lucid Eye a suitable mate. After traveling four hours down a one-lane highway, passing 18-wheelers for the adrenaline rush and refueling with roadside mangos, we finally reached our destination – a black sand beach stretching as far as the eye can see, with waves twice the size of our previous session and hardly a soul in the water.
The Lucid Eye was practically vibrating with excitement, so I coated my face with Mr. Rock, strapped on a 6' x 3/16” leash, and powered through the impact zone. Finally in the lineup, I realized that the sets were mostly closeouts but the in-betweeners were of the utmost quality, cornering off for multiple frontside turns or perhaps the odd tube.
The first bottom turn was revelatory.
Accelerating toward the lip with unfamiliar speed and control, it was all I could do to transfer that toe-side energy into my heels, turning the Lucid Eye over in a way felt firm but oh so buttery, like scalping a coconut with a freshly sharpened blade.
No speed was lost through this maneuver, meaning I had plenty left in the tank for round two. With the lip nearing its descent, I opted for a fin-drifting re-entry rather than a carve, which deposited me back in the trough ready to go again. Unfortunately the wave had reached its conclusion, so I blasted through the whitewater ready for the next.
Train leaves at 10:30 sharp!
At this point I knew the Lucid Eye was more than just alright. It was a shortboard that had drive and control like a mini step-up – unlike anything I’ve experienced in its size.
Wave after wave I was putting the board wherever I damn well pleased, carving through sections that would normally force my chicken legs to quiver and shake; not on the Lucid Eye.
While I don’t feel comfortable saying it was definitely the octo-rails that gifted me this extra drive and control, I can say that the serrated edges are no hindrance to performance whatsoever, and they also feel damn nice in your palm on a grab-rail hack.
Max told us that his boards have received criticism for being “all aesthetic, no performance.”
Those folks have clearly never tried an Eye Sym.
It’s true Max’s boards are quite "pretty", and yes, the rails may seem like a "gimmick" at first glance, but let me tell you, the Lucid Eye works. To this day I ride it whenever the waves are good, and despite some exquisite poundings, the board is still in mint condition.
Pink and adorable as it may be, the thing is a beast!
Let’s talk about fins.
When the waves were smaller I opted for Futures' F6 Legacy fins, which is about the most neutral set in their line. The beauty of the F6 is they're smack dab in the middle when it comes to being pivot vs. carve-centric, and also in terms of speed generation vs. control.
For that reason, it’s a fin you can rely on in a majority of conditions, and it’s arguably the best set of fins to use in a Joyride because it lets the board more or less speak for itself.
The F6 Legacy set allowed for swift direction changes and even some slide when I got on the front foot. But as previously discussed, those conditions weren’t ideal for the Lucid Eye, so in switching conditions to suit the craft, we’d also need to switch the fins to suit the conditions.
When the waves got bigger, I opted for Futures’ JJF Techflex model. They’re stiffer than the F6 Legacy and have a larger outline with more rake (rake: how far the end of the fin extends beyond the base), all of which equates to a more controlled, less slidey feel that is best suited to long, arcing turns rather than a quick pivot.
For these reasons, the JJFs were the optimal choice for the Lucid Eye, which prefers tall, drawn-out walls. With the John Johns, I never have to worry about a skip off the bottom or an undesired slide off the top. They’re the most reliable set in the Futures line and should be a staple in everybody’s fin quiver.
The 1980s called they want their trick back.
And now to break down the Lucid Eye in 5 specific performance categories:
Because it’s a PU, the Lucid was slightly heavier and slower than some of the other boards I’ve tested in the Joyride, meaning it’s not the best at manual speed generation. But when there’s energy in the surf, this board springs out of bed like a first-week cadet and deploys spray missiles like a Korean dictator. In other words, the Lucid Eye needs a kick in the ass to get going but once it’s there.... watch out.
Oddly enough, this performance shortboard was easier to ride than some of the grovelers I’ve tested on the Joyride. The best way to describe the Lucid Eye is very well balanced, which is perhaps why it feels so natural underfoot. Basically, whether you’re an intermediate or expert surfer, the Lucid Eye is an extremely reliable option if you’re looking for a "good wave board". It’s sturdy, easy enough to maneuver, and tends not to bog.
Six-to-eight feet will mean many different things to many different people, but I’m asking you to take it at face value – specifically, a couple feet overhead. None of this Hawaiian “back of the wave” bullshit, and none of the Australian “we can only count to 4!” rhetoric (even if it’s true). Six-to-eight feet as measured from the front of the wave with a regulation fucking ruler. That is where the Lucid Eye excels, and it can go even bigger if you’re a brave little gal – in fact, I haven’t felt undergunned on it yet. Below head-high, the Lucid starts to lose its luster, so I recommend keeping it on ice for the days that matter.
Say what you will about Eye Symmetry's octo-rails, but the sharpened edges divide water like a family of immigrants at the US border. When riding the Lucid Eye, I feel completely confident driving off the bottom and obliterating any oncoming section, which is all you can really ask for in a performance sled. Plus, do you think Eye Sym teamer Tom Carroll would consider toting Max's boards if they didn’t turn the other way? Put your trust in the octo-rail and it will do good unto thee!
Perhaps the most surprising feature of the Lucid Eye is its ability in the air. While the waves need to reach a certain energy baseline to get this craft airborne, the Lucid Eye feels remarkably natural above the lip and seems to follow your feet as if by design. In hindsight I should have expected this, considering Stab High competitor Hector Santamaria has stomped an abundance of corkscrew punts under the Eye Sym banner. The board properly soars.
Interested in a Lucid Eye of your own? Get one here.