The days are getting colder and shorter in most of Australia, which means for many it’s nearing the time to begin the human version of a winter hibernation. Not so for surfers. The chilly weather invariably means it’s time to put the longboards away and prepare for more consistent swell and offshore winds. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best boards for this winter.
The Two Happy is Channel Islands’ adaptation of the original Happy, taking all the features which made its predecessor so popular and using them to make a more user-friendly board. The original Happy was known for being particularly fast, and this version doesn’t lose any of that pace, but some extra rocker, wide tails and full rail make it suitable for surfers of a wide range of abilities.
It’s essentially a relatively high-performance board and can suitably be surfed in high-performance conditions, but the added volume in the rails and tail make it a great board to use in much smaller waves as well. It’s recommended for anyone with a little bit of experience through to expert surfers, so expect to see plenty of people out there on this board this winter.
The Chili Faded 2.0 is the quintessential winter board, particularly if you live somewhere which gets heavy during the middle parts of the year. It’s designed for hollow and heavy waves, with a low-medium rail and fairly minimal rocker on the nose. There is, however, a reasonable amount of size up the front of the board, which means – in the words of Chili themselves – it ‘paddles like a step-up and surfs like a shortboard’.
It’s not a board for beginners nor is it ideal for surfing around in 1-2 foot slop, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a barrel-hunting machine to use it. If you’ve got a decent amount of experience in the water you’ll get good use out of it – it’s advertised as being surfable in anything down to 3-foot waves, and in that kind of surf will operate as an easy-paddling, manoeuvrable board, so if that’s more your style than the heavy and hollow we mentioned earlier this board is still worth thought.
Yet another sequel board! The original Forget Me Not has seen a huge amount of success at the top level of surfing as the board of choice for winners at Pipeline, Cloudbreak and Teahupo’o amongst others – the surfers riding it on those occasions include Joel Parkinson, Owen Wright and Julian Wilson. Based on those waves it’s probably pretty clear what kind of conditions that board suits – fast and hollow.
The second incarnation of the Forget Me Not is not hugely different, but with a couple of key differences. It’s not dissimilar from the Two Happy in that it’s a slightly more user-friendly version of the successful high-performance board which preceded it. JS have added a little extra foam under the chest to improve paddle power and acceleration after the take-off, while the responsive rail ensures it’s as playful and speedy as its predecessor. It’s not for beginners, but if you know what you’re doing in the water this could be a great option for your board of the winter.
Have you ever wanted to surf a board designed for Kelly Slater? Well, here’s your chance. The FRK was designed back in 2015 by Dan Mann – a design he said came more naturally to him than any before it. He could see the board before he made it, or so he says. He sent it to Kelly, who promptly left it in the shed for two years. Eventually the GOAT got around to surfing it, loved it, and has done some of his best surfing in recent years on it.
You might not surf as well as him on it, but it’s still a pretty damn good board. It’s obviously not made for beginners since Kelly surfs it, but it’s also not necessarily made for conditions as heavy as a couple of the boards we’ve described above. This one is more optimal in waves somewhere between standard and hollow, and is suitable for any size from two-foot through to six-foot. It’s also a little less high-performance than boards like the Forget Me Not and Two Happy, but with a bit more size and a bit more rocker it might be more up the alley of intermediate surfers and those who aren’t blessed to live on the doorstep of waves like Pipeline and Teahupo’o.
If you like to go fast, the Sharp Eye #77 + might your kind of board. It’s one of the favourites of Kanoa Igarashi, who has surfed it from Tahiti to Portugal in some of the world’s heaviest waves. It’s got a full rocker on both sides of the board, making it ideal for taking off in the steeper sections of waves, while it maintains plenty of manoeuvrability to enable you to get to where you need to go quickly.
Clearly, this is a board for a certain type of surfer in a certain type of wave. It won’t be for everyone and won’t perform as well if you don’t have the waves to suit – if you’ve got waves from 4-foot through to 10-foot which require you to go fast while maintaining control, however, this is about as good a choice as you’ll find. It’s in waves that pack a punch that this board shines, and it’s for that reason that the Sharp Eye #77 is one of the best surfboards for the winter.