What Happens When A CT Surfer Rides 5 Stock Surfboards?
Find out in our first episode of Off The Rack, featuring Conner Coffin and JS Surfboards.
Welcome to Off The Rack, our new surfboard series wherein we take A-list surfers unfamiliar with a brand's consumer-grade foam and fiberglass wares, and see if they can handle professional* scrutiny.
Why? Because we know that a world-class shaper can whip together a world-class board for a world-class surfer. But can they build an Everyman performance sled that a Pro would even consider riding in a heat, or filming a session on?
Pro surfers on the general public's boards. Pretty simple.
To add transparency, as well as ammunition for the commentariat's verbal assaults, one of Stab's staffers will be along for each episode's ride, to see how pedestrian-friendly these stock shortboards really are. This first episode features Stab's EIC Crashton Bograil.
As far as the boards go, first up is JS Surfboards—the pride of the Gold Coast—and their newest addition to the Traktor crew, Santa Barbara's Conner Coffin.
With quarantine in effect and shipments from Australia backed up for months, we swung through JS's Carlsbad warehouse and had Heath "Nutty" Walker pick out a few bone stock 2020 models that had arrived from Aus just before the pandemic set in. With a northwest windswell combining with a subtle south, we tested five boards in Conner's volume (comprising a mix of JS's proprietary HyFi as well as standard PU construction), and three of the same models in JS's new Easy Rider options‚ (higher volume versions of each model in more pedestrian-friendly, high-performance dimensions—but that's a story for later in the week).
*(and amateur, in Ashton and the rest of our staff's case)
For Conner's first JS Tasting Menu, Nutty and the boys pulled a Raging Bull, Occy's new souped-up pro model, a thoroughly modernized, volume- and wide point-forward pintail: 5’8” x 18 3/4 x 2 3/8 x 26.4L.
"The Raging Bull is an incredibly forgiving, versatile travel board that will be your go-to for better days at home and any time you’re lucky enough to be away chasing proper waves. It has all of the elements Occ wanted to make performance surfing easy. User-friendly, but with the ability to handle heavier conditions and powerful surfers. Compared with our other models built for quality surf, there’s a lot of differences here. A fuller nose with the wide point and extra thickness pushed forward combine with a flatter entry rocker to make it paddle fast and get into waves early, and then while surfing, generate and hold all of that extra speed."
"A pulled-in tail gives you control for turns and barrels in more critical conditions, while a touch more curve in the exit rocker adds manoeuvrability and release out of the lip. Moderate single concave starts under front foot, moving to double just before the fins to provide lift and more intuitive rail-to-rail transitions. Then finally, there’s Occ’s favourite part – as he calls it, the “Raging Bull thickness”. Essentially, this refers to JS maintaining a strategically generous distribution of volume throughout the board that goes hand in hand with thicker stock dimensions. This is the key to more paddle power, gliding over flat sections, and to again quote Occ, “lets you leave it on rail forever.”
"Occy’s new step down, the Bullseye, accentuates all of the small wave features the Raging Bull already has in spades. Ridden 2-3 inches shorter and wider than its big brother, the Bullseye is built to keep you catching a lot of waves and flying down the line when other boards would be struggling."
Next up, Occy's Step Down, the Bullseye, in HyFi Construction: 5'6" x 19 x 2 5/16" x 26.4 liters. Like the Raging Bull, the wide point is pushed forward with even more foam redistributed under your chest and front foot. A flatter entry rocker, a slight vee in the nose, then a moderate single to double concave through the rest of the board, with a pulled-in tail and slight curve in the exit rocker.
Conner and Stab's commentariat bullseye Ashton Goggans performing under-arm inspections.
After an afternoon of wedgy, wonky Ventura beachbreak, we talked Conner into a grovel at one of his earliest haunts, a little Santa Barbara sandbar. He wanted to give the wildly popular new Black Baron twin a spin. At 5'5" 19 3/4 x 2 5/16 x 27.5 liters, the Black Baron is a streamlined, simplified, deceptively fine-tuned fish. Their proprietary EPS construction involves a "specifically engineered flex pattern for waves that require you to generate most of your own speed – it’s fast and has plenty of pop. Perfect for twin fins. This suits the type of boards we want to ride to make small waves exciting. They don’t need all the layering of a HYFI, and with less layering, comes more flex."
With an overall low to flat rocker, "medium to low rails, reducing catch and increasing speed in and out of choppy or soft sections," and actually goes well as a quad or thruster, conditions depending (hollow and fast with clean faces, these things as quads are rockets).
Conner ripping the bag out of a Ventura beachbreak on the Black Box 3 Swallow Tail.
An update on the 20-year best-selling Monsta series (ridden at one point or another by Andy and Bruce Irons, Joel Parkinson, and dozens of the world's best), the MonstaBox 2020 is the most anticipated high-performance model of JS' new range, tuned in by Julian Wilson and the rest of the squad last year. By all accounts from those who swooped on the early deliveries, they provide a truly extraordinary feeling.
Here's the full spiel on the MonstaBox 2020, it really is worth a gander—we're talking every bit of R&D Jason's done with his team's boards in one model:
"20 years of JS Industries. 10 years since our flagship shortboard, the original Monsta, was first developed. And now in 2020, our new Monsta will be ridden everywhere from your most rewarding sessions at home & regular trips chasing waves, to Dream Tour events and the Olympic Games. Its latest version is the most complete all-rounder we’ve ever made, improved and fine-tuned by elite athletes, global ambassadors & local legends, together with our recently retired World Champ and JS.
The latest and greatest for 2020 revolves around maximum performance, but with added forgiveness and fine tuning for each board’s desired conditions. We needed the new Monsta to provide spark for explosive manoeuvres in everyday waves, while being predictable and reliable in pumping surf from our backyard at Snapper & Kirra to destinations like Cloudbreak.
The rocker has been tweaked to provide a more generous sweet spot, which easily generates speed, allows you to control big turns, and balances release out of the lip. Compared to the Monsta 8, the nose has a touch more curve in the last few inches to prevent catching in critical parts of the wave. The same magic tail rocker remains to fit into the conditions our Monsta 2020 is designed to thrive in – almost any conditions from chest high to double overhead plus.
Single concave under front foot runs into a double concave through the fins to give you extra lift yet maintain control in powerful surf, while a clean outline flows into a slight hip that allows for responsive direction changes. Overall, the Monsta 2020 prompts intuitive & fast surfing. It’s a huge milestone for us, and now, it’s ready for the rest of the world to enjoy anywhere, anytime. The best always find a way to get better."
As you'll see in the film above, Conner was immediately smitten with both boards (you'll notice both Conner's MonstaBox and BlackBox 3 are swallow tails), but the MonstaBox 2020 sparked something in the lead-foot. After falling hard his first session took advantage of LA's COVID-era lack of traffic and bolted down for an afternoon at Lowers.
"This thing's sick," Conner said of the BlackBox 2020 straight out of the water. "I kind of don't want to stop riding it. This is the best JS I've had yet and it's just a stock off the rack."
You can peruse the full range of JS' board here (and get a board delivered to your door in Australia and the US in a matter of days).