These Are The Best Selling Surfboards Of 2019
Does ubiquity equate to quality? We’ll let you decide.
By all accounts, 2019 was a pretty good year for surfboard sales. It’s probably because these days, there really is something out there for everyone. While the Wave Storm scourge is hard to ignore, there are more well-designed, well-engineered surfboards out there than ever before….and that’s a good thing.
One development that was noted several times in the process of putting this piece together was that there’s been a reinvigorated appreciation for “domestically” made boards versus those coming from overseas factories. Core surfers seem to have gotten the message that unless the craftsmen and artisans that shape and build surfboards are supported, pretty soon we’re all going to be stuck on Chinese pop-out crap. Thankfully, it seems to have driven some of the purchasing decisions this year.
The proliferation of varying technologies also continues unabated. From Channel Islands’ SpineTek, to …Lost’s Carbon Wrap, to Firewire’s Helium tech, for those that see a better surf life through innovation, there are no shortage of avenues to explore.
And more and more, people continue to embrace the mantra of “foam is your friend.” Fuller outlines and more volume continue to be extremely popular in the market place. Short, fast “pocket-rockets” seem to be the go-to for a lot of workaday wave-riders. Shapers are putting more foam under the chest and filling out the nose of boards while reducing the entry rocker to provide more planning area and speed.
People like options, and like we said, there are more of them out there in the surfboard marketplace than ever. Here is what folks demanded in 2019, according to our imperfect science of surfboard sales data collection:
Note: no brand will get more than one board in this piece.
10. Sharp Eye: #77
Filipe Toledo opened a lot of doors for Sharp Eye. The boards continue to grow in popularity in California and Brazil. This year they added Kanoa Igarashi to their roster, which is certain to expand their reach in the Japan—not a bad move with the Olympics coming up. A preferred design of both Filipe and Kanoa, the #77 is one of the label’s flagship models. Filipe calls it the “fastest board I’ve ever ridden.” It’s what he rode when he won J-Bay in 2017. That’s some validation.
A clean, high-performance shortboard, the #77 is an upgrade of the Holy Toledo model. It’s got a little more entry and exit rocker for improved responsiveness and more of a “gas pedal” feeling. The added concave through the tail helps in this regard as well. There’s also a little harder edge above the tail giving the board more bite. Meant to be ridden in good waves by good surfers, this isn’t a grovel board or something fun for those in between days. When it’s time to shred, a lot of folks appear to be turned on by the #77.
Timmy Patterson: IF15
The story goes that Jadson Andre “discovered” Italo Ferreira—who learned to surf on the top of his dad’s styrofoam cooler lid—and introduced him to brothers Tico and Tecco Oliveira, who run Silver Surfer Surfboards in Brazil. They’ve worked closely with Timmy Patterson over the years, and connected a young Italo with him. The boards the duo initially collaborated on were based largely on the designs Adriano De Souza had been riding. But over time, Italo and Timmy developed the IF15, a model tailor-made for the high-flying Brazilian’s kinetic brand of entertaining surfing.
With a fuller, more balanced outline, the IF15 features more width and volume in the nose to help control those landings and recoveries—similar to what guys like John John Florence and Gabriel Medina have done with their boards. There’s more foam in this than meets the eye as Patterson is a master of hiding volume. The board works well in everything from gutless, knee-high chop to proper overhead barrels and is extremely user-friendly considering its test pilot.
The Patterson operation works directly with Silver Surfer to manufacture and distribute boards in Brazil. They’ve also got teams in Australia and Europe, which has helped to expand their sale and reach. From Italo, to Andy Irons, to Archy, Patterson has always made some of the world’s best shortboards, and it’s great to see a resurgence in his sales and profile.
After being mesmerized by the Hypto Krypto’s curves a few year ago, Hayden Cox came back with another signature design, the Holy Grail. Cut more from the cloth of high-performance tradition, it’s Dion Agius’s weapon of choice lately. Designed to be fun for workaday slobs, it also work quite well when being put through the paces by somebody that knows what they’re doing.
If the Hypto is our reference point, the Holy Grail is a more refined outlined. Featuring a narrower nose and lengthier rail line, the Holy Grail is built for fluid carves, tight pockets and speed. Improvements in planing design, including a flatter rocker and more surface area in the backend, mean you can go fast without sacrificing responsiveness. Built with plenty of volume, it’s meant to be ridden a few inches shorter than you’re standard high-performance model.
7. Pukas: Dark
Initially designed for Mick Fanning for Stab In The Dark, Pukas’s Dark model was shaped by Axel Lorentz. The board isn’t built for groveling or crap surf, it’s made for ripping by someone that rips.
“I lowered the exit rocker and made the rails more parallel. The more parallel they are, the fastest the board goes,” Lorentz explains.
A high-performance stiletto during Fanning’s test runs he reached a top speed of 38.4km/h…the fastest of any board tested.
“He has never been one to attract attention to himself, but can shape anything, anytime, for anyone,” Matt Biolos says.
If Lorentz was flying under the radar before, he certainly isn’t now.
6. JS Industries: Black Box III
As speed, power and flow go, JS Industries’ Blak Box 3 will help you tick all the boxes. Built to excel in everyday conditions, Jason Stevenson updated the already successful Blak Box design, improving the board’s acceleration and glide.
“Just bringing out a model to bring out a model is not how we do things. It has to be better, so it was a bit daunting,” Stevenson says.
To achieve this, the Blak Box 3 was given more planing surface through the nose and added more foam under the chest. A single concave through the nose into a double concave above the fins helps add speed and lift. But the board’s really been engineered around the swallowtail. The wide point was pushed forward to give it a longer rail long, providing better speed control, more drive and that solid rail-to-rail feel though turns.
5. DHD: DX1 Phase 3
A preferred whip of Mick Fanning, Matt Wilkinson and Stephanie Gilmore, DHD’s DX1 Phase 3 is the new premier high-performance shortboard offering from Darren Handley.
You may remember, the original DX1 was the 2015 Stab In The Dark winner. Originally designed for Jack Freestone (who at the start of this year Jack jumped ship to Pyzel), the legacy of the DX1 endures.
In keeping with current trends, the board brings more width into the nose and tail with some extra foam under the chest. A clean, straight outline coupled with a lowered rocker means this board flies. Lower rails through the back end help loosen it up.
4. Pyzel: Shadow
A member of Jon Pyzel’s Ghost family, the Shadow’s a more functional, user-friendly shortboard for all types of waves. The design was originally a one-off for Mick Fanning for Stab In The Dark.
“Then I started to make some subtle changes to it as I shaped more of them for my team guys here,” Pyzel says. “That’s the board that John has been really excited about…his quiver this year is basically squash tail Shadows.”
The board is based on the same rocker as the Ghost. From there Pyzel tweaked the outline, giving it a more traditional shortboard outline. The wide point is just about center of the board, as opposed to the Ghost, which was moved up, but there’s more volume under the chest. There are small hips above the front fins to help the board release through maneuvers. And the Shadow features more entry rocker than the Ghost with a flipped nose.
Florence and Jack Freestone both enjoyed a lot of success on the Shadow this year, which may explain its popularity. But it’s also a more all-around kind of board for the common folk, good in a variety of conditions.
“We wanted it to be more versatile. It’s more of an everyday, high-performance board,” Pyzel notes.
Kelly Slater’s the consummate tinkerer when it comes to his surfboards, leaning on time-tested friends and creative whittlers to help him achieve his vision. His everyday shooter, the Gamma, is one such ride. While he dabbled on Aipa twins and Tokoro pins this year, session in and session out, he’s a Gamma kind of guy.
“This one has definitely been a group effort,” tells the GOAT.
The distinguishing feature of the Gamma is its versatility. Designed in “High Performance” and “Groveler” dimensions, it’s the only board on this list that can be scaled up and down depending on the conditions, allowing more consistency and dependability in performance whether it’s sloppy D-Bah or running J-Bay. It features a single concave running from tip to tail, and some vee behind the fins, as well as a little hip above the fins in the outline.
The Gamma comes in Firewire’s exclusive Helium technology, which is not only featherweight, but features rails comprised of a Balsa and Paulownia blend to manage its flex. It also comes in the company’s LFT tech as well.
The trend of more speed, more fun and more waves continued this year as Channel Island’s Rocket Wide was once again their number one seller. Based off of the Rocket 9 model that the Gudauskas brothers helped design with Mike Andrews at C.I., as the name would indicate, the Rocket Wide is wider with a much fuller outline. Designed to be ridden smaller than your normal shortie, it’s a little skate machine for those playful days and pocket rides.
“I love this board so much. One of my goals is to try and surf everyday, but you can only do that if you have the right boards, and the Rocket Wide taps into the juice,” Dane Gudauskas says. “I’ve found it to be a really versatile design. I can have a ton of fun on it a waist-high T Street, but it also goes off in head-high Lowers. What’s not to love about a little Rocket Wide in your life?”
Keeping track of all the different models Matt Biolos masterminds ain’t easy, but this year, amongst the Drivers and California Fishes, the Rad Ripper was the board people wanted under their feet the most. If a fundamental tenant of surfing is that it should be fun, that’s exactly what this board delivers.
Fast, forgiving, and it has all that retro goodness with Biolos’ penchant for modern updates included—most notably, increased tail rocker for more back-foot control and a nice double-barrel concave.
“As a child of ‘80s surfing, I’ve always been enamored by the ease of use from that era’s performance shortboards,” notes Biolos. “I lowered the entry rocker a bit—for fast paddle, early entry, easy glide and quickness out the gate—and replaced the speed controlling round tail with a wide, planing squash tail.”
As far as sales go, Lost rep and all-around ripper Nate Yeomans noted this was the most sought after in their fleet.
“The demand for the board’s been solid all year. It’s a great board,” Yeomans says. “There are a lot of models, we introduced some ones that went really well for us, but the Rad Ripper was the one. I don’t know how Matt [Biolos] does it all. It’s pretty incredible.”
The Rad Ripper isn’t the board you’re going to ride at maxing Desert Point…but how often do you ride maxing Desert Point? An ideal go-to board for the everyday sessions when you need a little extra inspiration to get wet, and by our calculations, the best-selling board of 2019.
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