Spring has arrived and “what kind of board should I get for the summer?” begins to echo in surf shops around the county. Many have the archetypal debate of jumping on a fish or try to flatten out their current board’s rockers and add more hip area as compensation for the lack of size and swell power.
At South Coast, we’ve got Def Cons as the performance fish nosed short boards, old school keels, as well as modern Wing Quad Fish for those long slopped reef walls, Prod Quads, for fun looking beach breaks, and we’ve got a new addition to the small wave arsenal.
Enter the South Coast Arrowhead Quad. It’s not quite a fish and it’s definitely not your typical short board. Visually, it appears to be something one of our managers may have caught of the pier or an arrowhead you dig up out in the desert, yet despite these strange characteristics, the board performs exceptionally well in less than satisfactory surf.
This board features a rather narrow nose outline compared to most fish, similar to that of our Prod Quad or Launcher. This sharpened nose had that snappy light weight short board feel compared to traditional fish but still maintained surface area for small wave speed. “The low rocker and high volume rails let the board float higher above the water” said our shaper Larry Ricci. I felt this first hand as the take offs slide right down the face and grant you this vital burst of speed right from the get go. This, coupled with extra maneuverability from having less drag, allowed for smoother mushy wave foam climbs and close out floaters than any quad fish or hybrid fish I’ve ridden in awhile.
The extra thickness made paddling into waves far less strenuous. A couple good strokes and I could be up and riding before the majority of the wave started to avalanche down the face. Please, be mindful of this as people will begin to get annoyed if you keep taking everything for yourself and you may find some dirty looks or an old stick of wax coming your way. The most identifying characteristic of this board is the unique design at the tail. Larry’s outline has a smooth curve until you meet a wing (right angled edge) a little over two inches from the tip of scaled down fish tail. I call it a small fish tail due to the inside outline being curved like a fish tail instead of a straight line like a swallow.
This wing lies just after the end of the rear quad fin (riding the after market F.C.S. SF4 Stretch Quad Set), so if you happen to place your foot just over that fin cluster and really hammer in that cutback, you’ll notice the board feels locked into the arc you’re drawing. The short tail sits just a bit lower in the water and is able to pierce the wave a bit deeper on those critical turns. You feel the board hook at the apex of the hit while the full rails help you recover speed after the wrap around is done and you have to make it back to that soupy wave shoulder.
If you’re craving speed, keep your back foot just a bit further over the front fins, really punch it on your pumps and that Stretch quad set up acts like a four wheel drive. The SF4s have excellent traction in smaller surf and efficiently produce forward momentum with little to no slide for the racy inside shore pound that can be so fun during the summer if you’re willing to risk falling and munching on a seashell sandwich every now and then.
As for what size to order this board, I would go just a few inches shorter than my typical short board. Go about 2-3 inches shorter for the guys looking for a bit more glide and about 3-4 for those who want to have something really aggressive. That should provide solid float without losing all the sensitivity in the turns. This board has a lot of personality in it and I suggest trying to mix up your surfing a bit to really utilize its full potential. Draw long arcing cutbacks like you would with a fish, but attack that foam ball for a roundhouse like you would on a short board. Instead of the roll over the back of the wave kick out, try shooting up the face for a wave finishing floater.
Don’t be afraid to be aggressive; yes, it’s cool to have a smooth mellow small wave style on a fish, but once again, I would like to remind everyone this isn’t a normal fish. The quad fins will turn that lead foot into a small wave asset and all that extra float will blow by sections with ease. You’ve got the speed, go burnout out through some turns. Arrow heads are meant for hunting, so go track down some small waves to slay. Hit us up at South Coast Surf Shop on Newport and ask us about the demo.