The 10 Best-Selling surfboard Models of 2014
Good business is the best art!
Story by Jake Howard
We’re mostly locked in a closed loop when it comes to surfboards. Forty years into the so-called Shortboard Revolution and things just keep getting shorter… and fatter. The big names of the surf world are like a radio station with the same handful of tracks on heavy rotation. If you read Stab, watch the WSL World Tour events or follow what the best in the world are riding, variance in boards rarely wavers from the 5’11” by 18-and-whatever inches with a slight single to double concave. These are the boards that work under the feet of the best surfers in the world, but is it what the everyday surfer is buying? When it’s not out of the ordinary to drop $1000 on a board, what does the everyman choose? It intrigues us.
What works for you? What are you riding in the slop out the front after work? What’s connecting with your local? We decided to find out. We approached every big surfboard retailer in the world to see what people are actually walking out of the core shops with.
Based on sales numbers and demand, the short answer is surfers today are looking for something that’s a little shorter, wider and fatter to help them catch more waves and have more fun. They’re aware that a board that works for Kelly isn’t necessarily going to work for them.
“The hybrids just outsell the high-performance shortboards,” says Lost’s Matt Biolos. “It's why I feel that some of the other top brands, who are so WCT centric in their marketing, are over-marketing one segment of the market and alienating a larger one.”
All of that being said, ladies and gents, the following is Stab’s Top 10 best-selling surfboards of the last year.
*This ranking was made based on information we acquired from a cross section of industry sources. So... bring a grain of salt.
10. The Weirdo Ripper, by Channel Islands
Cracking the top ten, Channel Islands’ Weirdo Ripper is a glorious cross between an everyday grovel board and that special sled you pull out when it’s head-high and honing. Full-bodied and ridden a couple of inches shorter than a traditional shortboard, the board’s signature feature is its winged swallowtail, which frees it up for quick direction changes and tail chucks. In all of the shops and retailers we polled the Weirdo Ripper — which was first released in 2012 as Yadin Nicol’s ride of choice — is a dependable, consistent seller that never sets on the rack too long. (More here)
9. The Monsta, by JS
The JS Monsta is strictly billed as a high performance shortboard. Speaking to JS’s reputation as a man who makes good boards for good surfers, it’s the only model on our list that hasn’t followed the trend of wider and shorter. The Monsta first landed on JS’s line in 2010, and last season was the fine-tuned spear that Julian Wilson, Dusty Payne, Ace Buchan and Parko depended on. You may recall a year ago when Stab detailed the 7 Best Surfboard Models in the world according to Jules. At the time, he said of the Monsta, “Those boards are so consistent. I can pretty much pick one up and know it’s gonna go in the type of waves I need it for. I probably had 40 Monstas in this past year and this model is one of my moneymakers.” Yep, JS probably owes Julian a royalty cheque. (More here)
8. The Dominator, by Firewire
Firewire lost Taj Burrow to Matt Biolos and we thought they may have drifted off the radar, but Michel Bourez single-handedly retained their credibility with his best-ever competitive season last year. And then the rumours of Kelly Slater buying the company started swirling, increasing its visibility by leaps and bounds. As far as boards go, Firewire calls the Dominator the most versatile board in their arsenal. Playing on the demand for fuller-figured outlines, the most obvious difference between the Dominator’s outline and anything else on this list is that the wide point is found very low past the board’s mid-point. Designed by Dan Mann, a virtual unknown in terms of profile, the goal of the concept was to increase planning speed and paddle-ability. Overall, Firewire continues to enjoy popularity in shops, but much like we’ve seen reflected on the world tour, getting people to make the jump to PU construction remains a hurdle. (More here)
7. The Blak Box II, by JS
Built for the small stuff, but capable of hanging in there when the waves turn on, the Blak Box II is an update of the original Blak Box, which has always been a favorite of JS aficionados. Narrowed in the nose and tail, the updated Blak Box features a lower rail and has removed double concave in hopes of expanding the types of conditions the board can perform in.
“You get your best performance out of your Blak Box II in waves that are one to four-foot, flat faced and crumbly and weak conditions,” explains JS of this all-rounder. “It’s fast, it’s floatatious, it’s sensitive, it has everything you could want in a small-wave design.”
“I much prefer stand-up barrels all day, but it’s my board of choice when we have fun little waves,” affirms Parko. (More here)
6. The V3 Rocket, by Lost
Updating their successful Rocket series, the most noticeable difference here from Lost’s prior designs is the addition of a double-winged tail. And come on, winged tails are cool, right? This change puts more emphasis on surfing off your front foot, and Matt Biolos calls it the “fishy board for guys that don’t want to ride a fish.” Uber squirty, the V3 is a little pocket rocket that puts fun and performance on an even playing field. After all, as Biolos, who’s genius lies in his ability to take a blue-collar, workingman’s approach to board building, says, “There are more surfers like me than like Kolohe or Taj.” (More here)
5. The Average Joe, by Channel Islands
With a seemingly unlimited offering of models, Channel Islands’ Average Joe made up 13 percent of the company’s overall board sales last year. Another sled that’s all about the glide and putting the fun back in your surfing, the Joe is a round, egg of a thing designed to help you catch more waves and have a better surfing experience. “People were really attracted to the Joe,” reports Laguna Surf and Sport in California. “They’re looking for something that’s going to be fun for them.” The customer today has learned that riding what Kelly is on doesn’t work for them, but for the guy that gets to sneak a session at lunch or ride a few waves after work, the Joe is dependable fun, and that’s a very bankable quality these days. Every wave you watch is a wave you didn’t ride. If a board gets you in the water it’s a good board. (More here)
4. The Fred Stubble, by Channel Islands
Conner Coffin’s whip of choice for smallish contest surf. The Fred Stubble is a board that a lot of the C.I. team jumps on regularly. Last year it made up 10 percent of their total sales. Conner was looking for something to help tighten the arc of his turns and respond quicker in marginal conditions, so he worked with the team of designers in Santa Barbara, modified his award-winning Fred Rubble, and came up with something shorter, wider and a little thicker. The shops we polled responded very positively to this design, attributing its success to the added foam. The highest-ranking signature model on our list, in terms of sales, the Fred Stubble blew away designs by fellow C.I. team riders like Kelly Slater and Dane Reynolds. (More here)
3. The RV, by Lost
As we enter the top three on the list we’re looking at boards where the fun factor is the driving force. Lost’s RV is described as the ultimate “domesticated” board, meant to extract the most fun with the least effort. Good-time guy Mason Ho would agree as it’s one of his boards of choice for playful conditions. Like the V3 Rocket, the RV features a double-wing tail to increase bite through tighter turns. There is vee running from tip to tail to help offset the added volume, making transitions smooth and easy. Matt Biolos and his team at Lost spend a lot of time working with their athletes and riding the boards themselves so they can make the tunes and tweaks necessary to ensure the board’s not just going float well and fly down the line. If surfers like Mason and Carissa Moore have a ball on them you know there’s a little magic in the mix. (More here)
2. The New Flyer, by Channel Islands
Hollywood’s all about the sequel, and it appears surfboards are much the same. A remake of their classic Flyer design, Channel Islands’ New Flyer has proved to be very popular. In fact, C.I. informs us that last year the New Flyer made up 14 percent of their total board sales making it their top-selling model. A dependable, consistent seller in Australia and the U.S., it’s a stable, user-friendly shortboard that’s forgiving while remaining extremely reliable in pumping conditions. Team riders like Bobby Martinez and Patrick Gudauskas swear by the New Flyer. “There are a lot of choice out there, obviously, but the New Flyer, it’s a got some special sauce to it,” smiles Gudauskas. “It’s one of those great boards that you can take anywhere and you know it’s going to work.” (More here)
1. The Hypto Krypto, by Haydenshapes
If you planted a different sticker on any of the boards on this list, would you know what brand it is? Maybe. But, there’s no question that the most unique surfboard of the year is the Hypto Krypto. With its boat-like hull and fattened nose, it’s certainly not the prettiest, but there’s nothing in the market like it and surfers are responding en mass.
A curvy, well-designed craft featuring a brilliant blend of volume and outline, it appears to be the ultimate all-rounder. The Krypto flies in anything from two-foot slob to eight-foot kegs.
“Other shapers come in and grab the board and just shake their head at it. I’m not sure whether it’s because they hate the shape or it’s because they can’t believe they didn’t do it first,” says Froggy, owner of Surf Culture in Sydney.
The simple law of supply and demand makes it the most sought after model on the market. “We are currently building around 50 to 60 Hyptos a day,” says Hayden.
Shops around Australia consistently reported that it was the top seller, and in the States top outlets like Huntington Surf and Sport and the Frog House couldn’t keep up. “We’d get a batch of Krypto’s in and by the afternoon they’d be gone. People were driving two or three hours to get them, and by the time they got here we we’d sold them all,” reported Huntington Surf and Sport.
“We have yet to determine what this model can actually sell globally,” adds Hayden.
Based on what we’ve seen over the last year, we’re guessing it’s a lot. (More here)