The northeast is (objectively) the most pleasant region of the country to inhabit in the summer. If you surf avidly, however, you may be longing for the winter at this point in time for one specific reason: the recent hiatus in quality surf. Unfortunately, the days of overhead+ groundswells will likely remain fond memories for now, at least until the inevitable uptick of tropical Atlantic activity. For now, the best we have to look forward to are some good ole’ gutless summer windswells.
But summer isn’t all that bad. After all, who doesn’t love trading off warm, stomach-high mush burgers with some buddies? This time of year is also a great time for newer surfers to hone their fundamentals. If you want to get the most out of summer windswells, however, it’s imperative that you have a good groveler in your quiver. More volume, fuller rails, a wider tail, and generally flat rockers are all the features you're going to need in your surf craft to conquer the sub-par summer surf. Lucky for you, we are stocked with grovelers, and we have chosen four for this article that we believe will outshine the rest. In no particular order, our summer surf craft picks are:
1. ROBERTS "VLAD"
Upon first glance, any trained eye will recognize the potential this board has for small wave dominance.
Tail: A WIDE (we repeat: wide) winged swallow tail, providing effortless glide through dead flat sections and pivot points necessary to lean into a proper power carve when presented more critical sections
Rocker: Relatively flat entry and exit rockers, though nose offers some flip for more critical surfing
Rails: Medium rails with tucked hard edges in the tail, which equates to overall stability, speed, and hold
Concave: Deep single concave transitioning to slight double and vee out the tail - lift and predictability
The Vlad is a great shape for anybody who has recently graduated from their beginner foamie and seeks a proper shortboard, as it offers a great combination of features that allow for ease when catching waves and forgiveness that you need when venturing out of your surf craft comfort zone.
2. ROBERTS "BIO DIESEL"
The BioDiesel is a small wave application of their new high performance shortboard, the “Turbo Diesel,” which I had the pleasure of bringing with me on my month long excursion to Bocas del Toro, Panama. After a quick glance and feel, I was immediately overcome with déjà vu. This is because Robert Weiner took the Turbo Diesel’s same rocker profile and lowered both ends on the BioDiesel, and kept the Turbo’s same tapered medium rails.
Tail: Squash tail
Rocker: Low entry with a slight amount of rocker from center through the tail
Rails: Rails are tapered in the nose, then transition to medium through center, and then medium thin through the tail
Concave: Single to slight double concave for lift and responsiveness through turns
These modifications provide enhanced wave catching ability and drive in subpar waves, while maintaining the performance feel and offering the option to go on rail, perhaps more so than the Vlad. Additionally, the Bio Diesel may be more suited for someone with a little more experience riding shortboards.
3. PYZEL “PHANTOM XL”
The Phantom XL is a squashed down and fuller version of the infamous Ghost, as sported by the surfing world’s beloved JJF. As an owner of the Ghost, I felt very familiar with the Phantom XL when feeling it out, just as I did with the Roberts “Bio Diesel” from owning a Turbo Diesel.
Tail: Squash Tail (Pyzel added more width in the tail and nose to create a more parallel fuller outline)
Rocker: Med/low entry rocker for easy wave catching ability, and plenty of exit rocker curve for turning control and a snappy responsiveness
Concave: Plenty of single concave and flatness through the center for speed and flow
Rails: Full for added flotation and speed, but not chunky enough to eliminate the sensitivity that we all love in our boards
We're sure this shape would excel in your average wave conditions at Second Beach, Ruggles, or the Rockaway beaches!
4. FIREWIRE "GO FISH" (only carried in Rockaway location)
Designed by Rob Machado, the Go Fish offers a nice blend of retro aesthetic and modern modifications. The second this board arrived at our doors, I was immediately impressed by one feature of this board alone: its weight. Holy crap is this thing lightweight, owing to its epoxy glassing. The aforementioned shapes are also offered in epoxy, which is an important feature to consider (and that I recommend) for your groveler, as epoxy’s weight is preferable over PU for smaller waves, where planing high on the surface is a necessity.
Tail: a narrowed swallow tail for enhanced maneuverability
Rocker: low entry rocker with subtle tail flip on the exit
Concave: As Rob Machado explains, the Go Fish features “a really flat bottom concave that runs down the center all the way through the tail. The two side panels run down each rail on either side of the center panel, and transition from concave to flat to Vee while maintaining the deep single concave down the middle.”
Rails: Medium through the center and hard tucked through the tail
The overall effect of these design parameters, when combined with a keel fin set up, is a highly maneuverable and speedy board with tons of drive. This board truly takes the retro fish to a whole new performance level.
If you're in need of a new groveler, please feel free to stop by our shops and ask us about these (and any other) boards. While we carry other boards that will certainly fulfill similar roles as these four, we're confident that these are among the best in our inventory. Lastly, it is important to remember that dimension/volume and glassing decisions should take into consideration the weight addition of winter gear, as you will likely not use these boards exclusively in the summer. We hope you found this useful!
The BW Team