It's not a motherfucking fun board and it's not a crutch.
On November 18, 2017, I took possession of a Pyzel Ghost from TC glasshouse Ourimbah Drive Tweed Heads. Six feet one inches, stock dims.
It was the long awaited denouement of a complex cash and scrip deal hammered out via text message and electronic mail with BeachGrit principal Derek Rielly, part payment for coverage of the Grand Slam leg of the WSL championship Tour, honoured in it’s entirety in August. A deal a lot of people seem to think is tantamount to receiving a free board.
To wit: last week driving a bus down the main drag of Byron Bay a little car tried to nose in front of me. I put the window down.
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going mate ?”
The driver put his window down. It was my derro mate Sticko talking in his derro drawl, “Shep, heard you got a free Ghost you sick cunt, how fucking sick is that? Sick!”
I stopped the bus in heavy traffic opposite the Great Northern hotel and got out, hugged it out with Sticko who resembles Nick Nolte on a three-day coke binge but with a leonine mane, no body fat and a proper air game.
“Now Sticko,” I said, “the truth of that matter is that I worked my arse off for that board, it owes me nothing nor I it. Comprende?”
You don’t have derros in America. They are a particular species of Australian surf animal. Entrepreneurial by nature, not averse to corner cutting, bent schemes, Third World cash-only payments etc. By and large critics and outcasts of consumer capitalism by temperament and desire.
I only offer the preamble in the interests of full transparency. While Jon Pyzel seems like good people, he doesn’t know me from a bar of soap. And I wouldn’t even know where to buy a Ghost, let alone spruik a link.
Like me, you covet a Ghost for the simple fact of JJF at Margaret River last year and what he did there on that board. From that followed the completely natural question: “Could there be something in that for me?”
I shall tell you how it goes for a recreational surfer of competent but wholly unremarkable skill set. You can draw an honest conclusion about whether it should be part of your future.
First thoughts. The board is a clean-curved widepoint forwards round pin. Nothing special there. Wide-point forward boards have been back in vogue since Kelly’s Deep Six victory at Pipeline. If you have a skerrick of historical appreciation for the single fin line, or any muscle memory of one, then widepoint forward feels better than sex on the bottom turn. You put the front foot down and lean and you feel the ride. The rails are foiled, the thickness is hidden. All this you can see from the photos.
If you can’t come to grips with that rocker curve, you can’t surf this board. That sounds harsh to modern ears tuned to inclusive language but it’s true.
What you can’t see is the rocker curve. Which is the special sauce.
You feel it as soon as you put it under your arm. The rocker curve cuts hard into the forward outline in a very distinctive way just in front of the chest. A recognisably Hawaiian curve, with a long sloping rocker curve out the aft end. If you can’t come to grips with that rocker curve, you can’t surf this board. That sounds harsh to modern ears tuned to inclusive language but it’s true.
It says on the website the board is a daily driver. It ain’t a daily driver (with exceptions). It’s a board for good waves. A Grit commenter who left after the Adjunct Professor IP reveal fiasco, Ghost of Super Jnr, said a “Man’s reach should exceed his grasp” and that applies perfectly to the Ghost. You reach for it at the limit of your skill set. It’s not a motherfucking fun board, it’s not a crutch.That rocker curve and area reduction in the outline curve needs a lot of board speed to get loaded up. I got it for good point surf and in the weeks after I took possession good point surf came my way.
You reach for it at the limit of your skill set. It’s not a motherfucking fun board, it’s not a crutch.That rocker curve and area reduction in the outline curve needs a lot of board speed to get loaded up. I got it for good point surf and in the weeks after I took possession good Point surf came my way.
It took some time to calm down and learn to ride the board properly. You can’t surf it off the fins, outline or rails. You have to relax into the rocker curve. Every turn. When you get that right, it feels like a 12-inch bubba blade slicing through the shoulder of a hundred pound yellowfin. A sense of ease and power and mass shifting.
I’ve always worked with fish, catching or processing. I’m not some pissant 2 per center. I’ve done my time. Salmon and halibut in Alaska, some crabs. Trawlers in the Gulf, wetliners out of Kalbarri, deep dropping on the shelf. It’s hard, bloody work but you can get paid without a visa. Mostly cash. I cut and humped tuna and marlin in Guam. A warehouse full of frozen carcasses, truckloads coming in off the longliners and purse seiners. Complete rape and pillage of the Ocean. Boss was a sadistic Serb whose favourite game was to get you to help him in the midday sun while he angle grinded metal and cover you in burning hot metal shards. Sacked me when I cooked his truck full of tuna. I went back the next day to collect my pay and he stood there with his angle grinder and told me to turn around and run before he ground my legs off and threw me in the deep freeze.
It feels like a 12-inch bubba blade slicing through the shoulder of a hundred pound yellowfin. A sense of ease and power and mass shifting.
I backed it up to a safe distance, flipped him the bird, turned on my heels and jogged home. Didn’t need the fucken money anyhow. My gal was a Femme Nous dancer bringing home shopping bags full of greenbacks stripping for US Marines. I went back to sitting on the rooftop drinking sixers of San Miguel and smoking Gudam Gurangs. Corrodes the soul, comrades. But, it works.
Point of the digression: you cut that tuna the right way or the wrong way. There is no in-between. And it’s the same with the Ghost. It’s an easy enough board to ride, but it’s a hard board to ride right. It demands precision. Flub the turn and it saps the confidence. You need to go in soft and come out hard.
Early days were bedevilled by flubbed turns on the Ghost. At times to the point of despair.
“What the fuck is going on here!” I have cried out, more than once.
But I have learnt to relax and let the rocker do the work, then add the extra foam in the split once the turn is done. By and large I have learned to tame this board.
Early in the review, I asked the reader to consider reaching up for the board. I place one caveat on that. If you are over 40 and raising your seed, guy or gal, and/or have anything like adult obligations then add one inch. Or even two. With the fine foil you won’t notice it.
Volume measurements have led to the biggest misconceptions and false coinage in surfboard design history. They speak to a deeper misunderstanding of what the surfboard is and what it does. It has a dualistic nature. At low speed, ie when paddling it’s a displacement hull. It goes through the water and is subject to hydrostatic forces of which buoyancy is the key measure. Ergo, volume matters for paddling.
When riding a wave it’s a planing hull and subject to the entirely different hydrodynamic forces, equations of which depend on surface area, pressure and velocity. Ergo, bottom contours, rail foil and rocker/outline matter for wave riding.
The crux of the Ghost, to crack the technical nut, is the ease with which it breaks from the hydrostatic to the hydrodynamic. That is, when catching a wave it goes from low speed to planing incredibly easily and effectively. It knifes into a late drop better than any board I’ve ridden.
If that means something to you, good waves are in your present or near future and you have a shred of decency, self-respect and pride in your skill set, then the Ghost is worth the effort to figure out. You can do the best surfing in your life on it. Big call, but true. If you’ve given up or were never there then walk on by. This board has nothing for you, and that’s no judgement on your worth as a human being.
To quote Terry Fitzgerald: “Optimising experience is in effect a commitment to multiple surfboards and varied approach. For those who enjoy the thrill of riding a wave, pro-model equipment is one link to the dream of surfing a perfect wave”.
Video to come.