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.

Stab In The... 'Dark'?

No, it's not because we're taking our simple 'Stab In The Dark' title more literally; it's not because we realised matte black boards are trendy either; and it certainly isn't for any performance purposes because black boards melt wax like a barely clad girl melts hearts.

This year, we were trying to hide something. 

In the previous three years we've told our SITD shapers to conceal or remove any easily definable features. Despite this, there's always an unremovable trademark or two which reveals a boards true identity before our test subject has trialled it – pinlines, resin tints, and unmistakable shaper traits are just a few examples.  

DHD's have a blueish tint, while Dane Reynolds was able to pick a Chilli from the pack based purely on it's nose. 

Kahneman and Tversky knew in '72 that preconceived biases alter people's decisions, and when you're trying to run a quasi-scientific surfing experiment, partiality isn't what you're after.

Julian Wilson taking our surfboard experiment virginity back in 2015.

Photography Stab

To make things worse, our ten boards this year carried more defining features than all three previous. To be explicit, our ten boards were filled with what can be loosely labelled new and sustainable technology. 

Surfers and shapers have been reliant on polyurethane cores and resins for decades, but today's market and average lineup isn't as mono-foam-al as it once was. High-performance surfboards are no longer materially confined, whether you're an adopter or not, there's a range of alternative and arguably healthier tech on the shelf.

In 2018's Stab In The Dark we set out to find which of these non-standardised boards worked best. 

Instead of just dishing out our surfers' height, weight and stance, we had a few additional rules for this year's shapers. 

Dane Reynolds Stab In The dark

It doesn't take much to distinguish minor tail details on 2016's collection.

Photography Stab

Firstly, no polyurethane.

Secondly, the materials had to meet Sustainable Surf's criteria

And thirdly, the boards needed some sort of tech; whether that be carbon fibre strips, innegra wrapped tails or a funkier core was up to the individual shaper.

The only problem is that these technologies are instantly recognisable. And since many shapers have a patent on their preferred techs, their boards would no longer meet our indistinguishable criteria. We toyed with painting on black 'stringers', or covering the boards in a coloured resin, but through correspondence with all our shapers the simplest and most aesthetic solution was a simple coat or two of black paint over the board. 

Jordy Smith Stab In The dark

Like the chromatic colour-wheel itself. There'll be no distinctive tints in 2018.

Photography Stab

What resulted was a ten board quiver unrecognisable to the naked and naive eye. Our mystery man was able to pick off one or two on their 'feel', but the guessing task was much harder than that presented to Julian, Dane, and Jordy in our previous studies. 

Honestly, it's surprising we hadn't thought of this earlier. Black boards look kinda sick. The only downside being the hot slick they turn into when the mercury climbs above 25C – and where we went this year it certainly did.

As far as the location and surfer goes you'll need to keep guessing until a later date. Our previous tease showed Kelly, Mick and Mase being the front runners in our mystery surfer guess, but we'll let you take another stab down below if you wish. 

While you impatiently wait for the results, bide your time by watching Julian, Dane, and Jordy undergo our quest to find the best board. 

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