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Summer board test 2018 : Michel Bourez, Gamma, Evo, Pyzel Ghost and #

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  • #61
    Day 21: Last day, smaller waves. A good 1m of swell with 1-2m faces, quite glassy all day, slight north angle after 11am, so perfect conditions.
    As I hadn't trusted forecast with the smaller bit I took my MB for the early morning session, near high tide, after getting crushed all day before in OH cliseout barrels (or Hail Mary barrels with 15 m before closing out then). Yet, it had gotten much smaller, and at early morning full high tide with on average stomach to shoulder high semi-steep waves the MB felt a bit gunny. Some bumps, shifty lineup, but great, weak waves. Still caught a few ok ones after shaking offf my morning stiffness. Seen that others struggled on minimals or puddle jumpers I did ok with the MB, as take offs were tricky in the morning. Once ruding it's a fast tool and the tail rocker is playful. Yes, I should have taken gamma or evo. More surface, more drive. And I caught myself thinking that the perfect board in these flatter waves would have been : the sci-fi, Wave catching, manoeuvres, end section....anyways.

    And then came the afternoon. Low tide, stomach high, perfect little steep walls or barrels. Still glassy. North angle and clean rights with a clear peak (in fact, two). Only the surf school guys and a few teachers around. Took the evo and had an absolute blast. Waves were super fast but unreal being small and clean and I caught probably 50, with at least 5 little crouched barrels, a dozen of great walls with manoeuvres, bearing the pitching section and going into off-the-lips, hacks, anything I can do. I got all the waves I hadn't caught the 2 days before. The evo was incredible. Here the mixture of easy catching, medium rocker and speed was perfect. Didn't feel big, didn't feel small. Just perfect. I surfed 3 hours until I couldn't do anything anymore without cramping. There were only 2 or 3 comptetent Surfers out and everyone else struggled with the steep nature of those mini waves and misread takeoff set of set were I caught wave after wave and - unlike the day before - nothing did hurt when the closeout came :). So the evo is the ultimate groveller in cleaner or steeper waves. :)))
    Of course, the gamma would have worked too, but not with that speed and ease of catching. The MB would have made me miss at least 30% of the waves. The sci-fi would have felt sticky in the steep walls. So the evo was the board. Still set as quad with a nubster.

    Then it was over. Next test / water time is October taking on hossegor waves again. My body needed a rest though after 21-1 days of surfing.

    Some resumes of the boards.
    So far I can say:

    8-9/10, great shape, 1-6 foot. A 9,5/10 for drive, needs a minimum speed to start gliding and becoming magic, so if you mistime it you don't get off. 7/10 paddling (where a 10 is a 7'6 gun and my MB gets a 9/10), 8,5+/10 catching waves, a 10/10 in steep waves. For me rather foregiving with stance and little mistakes; in bumpy conditions with rips and cross-waves the wide nose is a little liability and some of the advantages get lost. Bogs, gets thrown off, catches front rails. Not the best board in a super super flat wave, too, a bit too much rocker, but still I made it work down to low thigh high waves, so no complaints. Maxes out at a bit over OH imho becoming too speedy. In glassy conditions I'd take it into 2xOH, could be fun. Handles any kind of steep, good on the backhand, too.
    Didn't like it (again) as thruster, but I only tested it twice in mostly bumpier conditions and it seemed to be even less stable then and bog. Stays in the quiver as the small wave weapon. Not a poor wave weapon though, in poor thigh high conditions (some push but really unclean) I had better sessions with my gamma as it is more stable and allows more control at the takeoff in poor waves. After two pushes the speed is equal.
    As my brand new octopus Dion Agious footpad had desintegrated in these 3 weeks peeling off anywhere I took the pad and wax off today for a new pad. There is not a scratch on the deck. Some very little, barely noticeable Wells where I sit on the deck. But no dings, no knee wells, no cracks. It still looks like new, except for the light yellowing that starts inside the channels just like with my Vader.

    A great HP board for OH waves. I highly recommend it. The 19 1/4 width is great if I need to get through a horror sand bank to the outside. 9/10 for paddling. Wave catching is only a 7-8/10 in lesser waves, but in juicy stuff it's a 9/10. Neutral, reliable. fST - no real damages anywhere, no wells, dings.... I came to appreciate its thumb tail more this year, comparing it to the ghost, as it felt a bit more free, without too much sliding. Stays in my quiver just like the Evo.

    The allrounder. Does anything. Feels good in 1,2,3,5,6,8 ft. I didn't feel too motivated to test in the few times it was super challenging out, taking either MB or ghost, but I will next time. The rocker makes it feel a bit soft, flowing off the tail at times, with a less precise grip/drive than a lower rockered board, but then every time I try a thing I works, so even if it feels a bit "soft" it doesn't surf "soft" at all. That is, in fact, the only negative. Of course in a thigh high soft wave the rocker makes it a bit less drivey, but it's so stable, has so much well balanced foam and area in the front that if remains super rippable even in a thigh high wave, one just needs to work a bit more. Catching waves is 8-9/10 with the wide nose. Paddling 8/10, good. If I could only take one board it would be the gamma. Had it as quad and thruster, thruster felt better. Used the FW fcs2 large set most of the time. Had one of my best sessions on the gamma in week 2, and many other good sessions. Took the wax off last week, btw, there is literally not a scratch top or bottom. Overall the most versatile board this summer.

    The hashtag felt great in one heavy beach break with near barrelling waves and difficult takeoff. Other than that it felt too small, too small in surface. as it is my smallest area board a 7'6 it is no surprise. Gamma is better in most conditions, evo better in smaller waves. So despite its buttery feeling in 4-6ft steep stuff I think I'll sell it as the range is truly too small. I should probably have bought the next bigger size. I had a number of glorious surfs on it, but when I think back these were all in good conditions in the ideal range (chest to just oh) and the number of spoilt sessions nearly equals the number of legendary ones. That is not a strong point. Of course, it's FST and doesn't have any major damage, in fact, no damages anywhere at all.

    The ghost:
    Work in progress. I had one out of the three best sessions on it, in perfect conditions in the first week. I had one great session in 1,5+ OH semi-steep sets on it. I had one poor session on it when I was frozen after water temp had dropped by 8 degrees over night. I had another poor session in difficult waves, riding it as a quad. The board looks great. It paddles like the gamma. It ducks good, like the gamma. It gives a secure feeling taking it into big waves. Take offs are good, not magic, but good. I struggled a few times with the narrow tail and my back foot (the pad allows for no error or you're trailing in the water). Normal adjustment. On the wave face it felt great, stable, fast but in control. Turns felt stickier than on my gamma, MB or #, as far as I could test it. During the best session I surfed well, did some turns and cutbacks and only felt limited on top turns. Later waves were more difficult. So difficult to say. The only 2 clear negatives are the weight - it feels heavier to me and that doesn't give me a safer feeling, at best it's ok - and the less stable construction having developed a number of deeper wells and dings already. I changed fins after the first and second time, to a more upright set. But then I didn't have many memorable waves afterwards, conditions were super tricky, 3 m and closing out and the few ones I tried were rather poor. So too early to tell. I'll take it to hossegor and test again. I'll try medium fins and I'll try more upright fins., especially my sea7 I use in my MB. Not sure this will change everything. During 2 poor sessions I know that i wouldn't have done any better on my MB or gamma, as crazy bombs stay crazy bombs and i am not that good at mastering them. On the flip side the struggles with the narrow tail the session before was unnecessary and it is possible that the tail might be a tad too narrow for me and my taste. I know I like pin tails, but maybe it's too pinny or too difficult to transition with an EVo and a gamma. We will see. Btw, this is why I do not go crazy about the HN as I think the same issue - narrow tail - might catch me there, too. Anyways. The length / size seems right. It's a 6'3, and paddling it I didn't have crazy help, so for paddling I might have ordered it longer / bigger. But once riding it the forward wide point made the board feel much bigger than it is, and I believe a 6'5 would then feel like a boat and be very directional. In fact my 6'3 felt like I rode a 6'5. So sizing it up could end with a stiffer feeling board. Thickness and width are great, I might have ordered it even 1/8 wider as it still feels like a narrow board even at 20'.

    That's it. I'll probably sell my # soon, just like my Vader (and 2 other boards, one older 45 L fish I gave a friend and now got backs and a 6'0 CI KS small with 27 L I had had kept for my children but that will always be too small for anyone in the family, with every one preferring the gamma ). If anyone in Europe is after a # in good condition or want to swap it, send me a PM ;). Hope you score!


    • #62
      Nice round up review Apache, sounds like evo and gamma are the favourites. Shame about the # but at the end of the day there is no point persisting with a board if it is holding your wave count back or has a super slim range. I’m bummed as last time I took my # out before France I damaged a fin paddling out, I have tossed up selling along with my Dhd and get the HN to try and turn 2 boards into one but I have had just too many good sessions on the # to let it go, I suspect the longer one probably does pack a fair bit more paddle power than the 6’2” and I have never had a board that makes late drops so well as the #. When my vortex breaks I think I will try and get a helium evo as my small wave board, never heard anyone say they didn’t like the board.


      • #63
        Bummer with the fin !!!
        Well my # is just too skinny in area, and even my children (11, 14) mostly took the bigger gamma this time....especially my son. it feels skinny and thinned out after surfing evo, gamma and even the ghost (!). As it was my smallest area board ever it's no surprise.
        Do you have any demo possibilities near ya? I'd test the HN to get sizing right and validate the feeling before buying it if I had a chance, seen my ghost situation?!


        • #64
          Yeah demos are pretty good around where I am and usually when we go away down south coast there is a massive surf shop up the road that rents most of the FW shapes to try for three days so it’s definitely a possibility. As I said I wouldn’t consider it unless I sold both the # and the Dhd but I think I will repair the # and keep the Dhd, the sweet spot has some battle scars too which is kind of nice in heavy waves as I don’t feel too precious about snapping it. Just think the HN looks like a sharper tool for big waves and still think it would pack a lot of paddle power.


          • #65
            I just pulled the trigger on a near new Helium SB 6'2 at 60% of the price. Couldn't resist it. Had an Amigo as alternative but it's 7'8 sqft vs 8'0 of the stubby and low 33ish, so finally went for the safer 34,x L and bigger surface of the stubby. Comparing outlines its a lower rocker lower concave gamma, with a slightly wider squash and no hip. That was too tempting seen how well the gamma works. Hope it fills the void and excels in the small to medium mush stuff where my evo doesnt.

            So quiver:
            Evo 5'7
            Stubby bastard 6'2
            Gamma 6'2
            Michel Bourez 6'4 and Ghost 6'3

            If the Sb proves to be versatile it'll open up many options (e.g. leave evo or gamma at home, take sci-fi just for fun sake, test alternative boards...:)).

            What stays in my basement?
            The 6'0 sci-fi is a fun addition and I'll take it when I expect bigger small waves only (instead of the evo) or fatter waves. So much drive / fun in the right wave.
            My dfr is to be re-tested "soon", meaning 2019 as I'll only take the above quiver boards to hossegor in automn. But at 1/3 price I don't care and it's a beauty.
            Owning it saves me from buying other super HP sticks of all kind as I already have one. Did work in the last 18 months.
            My 6'8 will equally wait for an occasion later. At 100€ it's the same thinking. If ghost fails that's my fallback option as step up. Last automn I didn't use it as gamma and mb covered it perfectly. 2019.

            I'll get the SB wet starting september 29th and then post how it goes.


            • #66
              Nice Apache will be interested in hearing how much overlap you find between SB and gamma


              • #67
                I'm excited to hear how the SB goes for you, apache. Looking forward to the reports and gamma comparison.


                • #68
                  I am excited too. I bought the exact board that I tried to buy for a full month now, but not from my seller but via a shop that obviously got it from my former (non-) seller.....This way, at least, I know it's pristine as I had already exchanged all these bits with him.

                  I hope that it will give me an easy transition between both boards (unlike with my # or between MB and ghost) having the same outline and similar design aspects to some degree.

                  Now I'll have to read about fins in the forum. As a default assumption I'll throw in a) my performers and b) my FW fins and then see what happens. I'll start with a thruster. Don't think it needs a quad to be quick, but this test might come next. If these setups all feel to loose I'll test some fcs1 AM pc fins and / or the accelerators next. Unlike with the ghost (pintail, low rails) I can't image the board wants small fins. Curious what the forum has to say about this :))))).


                  • #69
                    Really looking forward to what you have to say about the SB and especially comparing it to the Gamma.
                    Not sure, but l assume the SB is easier to surf and paddles faster. To me it's a very simple and user friendly design, only the extra tail rocker adds the spice.
                    Using the AM1 medium (futures) at the moment in the 6'0, but thinking about getting the large Honeycomb or new Vapor Core when it's out. It turns plenty hard for my skill level with the mediums, so more drive and calmed down turns on the large AM's should be good. EA Blacksticks where almost too loose for my liking, but good for it's bottom range. Also tried EA Control (ride number 2.0 or so) which felt secure, but not as smooth as the AM mediums.


                    • #70
                      After exchanging with the experts :) I'll start my SB with my Slice S7 (a GAM template like a AM2 with a similar size middle) and the FW set, but I'll test my go to performers as well. Could be too squirrely with the ISF. Thruster first.

                      Except for the SB and the gamma (where I'll continue to use the FW set or the SLice S7) I'll take the Ghost. And then I am still open. For the low end I'll either bring evo or Sci-fi, depending on forecast, as evo has been more magical in glassy stuff, not in lump and bump, so if it looks Windblown I might rather grab the sci-fi that has proven to be good then (if it's not just complete 1ft rubbish, then I'll hop on either gamma or SB as gamma gives a great feeling for the "nothing" bit).
                      On the upper end I'll either skip my MB or grab it anyways or maybe grab my DFR for a last lap before deciding it's fate. It's 6'1-2, with a bumped up 2 7/8 thickness, so basically a stubby with a HP outline and a ton (!!!) of nose and tail rocker. I has 1/2'' more tail rocker than my gamma, and more nose rocker. But maybe I'll just skip it, too, and focus on gamma / ghost.

                      With the ghost I do have a fin issue. My SMFL large have been ok on the first day, just a bit too stiff in the top turns (and maybe a bit loose overall with the extreme ISF and cant they have but hey). Quads felt horrible, too stiff in any turn. My carbon core Nutz fins, shaped like large performer but with no ISF felt, well, not good, too stiff. So I'll test another set of more raked, less cant/ flat foil GAM-type fins or maybe an AM2 honeycomb. Maybe I'll test my medium to small YU fins, too, but they look horribly small and have an extreme ISF and cant again. I am less set with futures for better waves than with fcs2/fcs, pity that.

                      Any comments welcome.