The noted technology, design, science and science fiction website Gizmodo turned its steely gaze into our humble surfing space, days ago, in a broad feature that aimed to name “the best surfboards, wetsuits and surfing accessories.” Now, when I stumbled upon the headline, particularly the word “accessories,” I was all but certain the “best surfboard” would be Gerry Lopez’s Costco special and so you can imagine my shock when the heavyweight brawl came down to John John Florence’s longtime shaper Jon Pyzel and Kolohe Andino’s meister Matt Biolos.
A lot of pro surfers use Pyzel boards, and so for years I stayed away, thinking they were too advanced for me. That may be true of some of their shapes, but the Phantom (6’1” round tail version) surprised me by being one of the most user-friendly boards I’ve ever tried. It paddles incredibly well and is very stable under-foot. It has a ton of drive to get down the line, but it also turns effortlessly.
I used this board in everything from 2-3-foot beach break slop to racing 6-foot+ right-hand point-breaks, and the board didn’t blink. In other words, it can grovel (i.e. catch small, weak waves) decently well but can still hold a line when things get critical. It’s good with steep, late drops, too. I went with the five fin-box version, so I could ride it as a thruster (three fins) or quad (four fins). It’s so versatile that if I could only have one board, this would probably be it. When things start getting in the double-overhead range (8-foot plus) you’ll probably want to have a step-up, and I actually found a 6’ 6” Pyzel Tank for $300 on Craigslist that I use for those big days. But for everyday conditions, the Phantom is dreamy.
Biolos did not leave the ring empty handed as his Lost + Lib Tech Quiver Killer was named best travel board.
7till8 won for best wetsuit, Roark took the boardshort category and Dryrobe Advanced Long Sleeve earned best changing robe.
Do you use a changing robe?