If you're looking to add a high performance shortboard to your quiver, check out our list of the Top 5 Surfboard Brands. In compiling our list of the best thrusters, we considered tradition, sales, the boards ridden by the best surfers in the world, and our own experiences as to what we think is best. The list: Channel Islands, Town and Country, Firewire, JS and DHD Designs.
Channel Islands makes the list of the best surfboards in large part because of surfboard shaping legend Al Merrick. Merrick has designed and shaped the best-selling boards in recent years, including models like the #4, the Pod, the Biscuit, the Weirdo Ripper and more. Another huge testament to CI's Al Merrick boards are that Kelly Slater, you know, 11 time world champion, rides them. Not to mention a whole stable of other great surfers like Dane Reynolds, Nat Young, Taylor Knox and Alana Blanchard. Made in the USA.
TOWN AND COUNTRY SURF DESIGNS
Town and Country (T&C) surfboards are shaped on surfing's holy ground, Hawaii, and have been around since 1971 when Craig Sugihara founded T&C in an old barber shop. Fast forward to today, and it's hard to find a lineup without a board marked with T&C's unmistakable ying-yang logo, reflecting the internal and external balance that is required to really rip. As boards, T&C's models are high performance boards made to handle some of the world's heaviest waves on the North Shore. As a brand, T&C is committed to perpetuating the stoke and aloha of Hawaiian surfing and reflects the essence of Hawaiian surfing: commitment, power, style and respect.
JS is a board brand from Down Under that's easily identified by its distinctive logo, a tractor. JS is named after its founder and shaper, Jason Stevenson, and has produced top quality performance boards for a number of years and a number of world championship tour competitors - Ace Buchan and Dusty Payne - but of course most notably 2012 world champ Joel Parkinson. Check out their models like the Monsta, the FMN Pin Tail, the Forget Me Not, the Quickshift ad the Occy.
Firewire is another surfboard brand that has impressed in recent years. While it produces cutting edge shapes and designs, Firewire's big focus is on the development of new materials and construction methods that will take boards to the next level. For example, Firewire incorporates bamboo into the decks of some of its models (see TimberTek) and uses a blank construction that creates much lighter and more durable boards. Don't forget to check out their volume calculator: enter your skill level, fitness, age and weight and Firewire tells you what volume of board will be best for your conditions. I'm 35-39 liters.
DARREN HANDLEY DESIGNS
Another surfboard shaped down under, on the gold coast, DHD boards are ridden by Mick Fanning and Steph Gilmore, two recent male and female world champs. Check out DHD's Duck Nuts, Eager Beaver, DX1 and Puzzle Piece board models. Like other models, some of DHD's boards incorporate carbon reinforcements as a tail wrap or stringer overlay to give you extra strength support where it's needed most. The boards also offer a number of different glassing options, trading off some lightness for strength depending on your preference.
Think there's a board brand we missed? Let us know in the comments...