It’s a sunny fall afternoon in Encinitas, California, and Dion Agius is milling around local shop Univ, where he’ll be premiering his new film “The Smiling Bag” tonight to a packed house. There are a handful of Agius’ new boards stacked in the corner, and I’m here to talk to him about one board in particular—a jazzy little winged swallow from SUPER called the Spam.
“I always loved swallow-tails, and I hadn’t had one in a while,” Agius tells me, fondling a little 5’6″ with a black spray-job. “I just wanted a summery-board that was fast as f–k. Something that paddles well, but that you can still turn, instead of just a super flat and fast board, where when you go to do a turn it just won’t move. I wanted the fastest, fun surfboard that you could still flare out on.”
Modern twin-fins and rocket fishes have become the designs du jour as of late. The resurgence of Mark Richards-style winged swallow outlines, and the blending of modern rockers and bottom contours, has made for a very fun couple years of small-wave surfboards. The Spam is a product of this same school of thought. With a fairly wide outline, low entry rocker, and single to double concave with vee off the tail, the Spam is built for pedal-to-the-metal speed, but the winged swallowtail shortens the rail line, keeps a tight turning radius, and allows for proper, uncompromisingly radical surfing, ridden as a thruster, or, as a twin – with or without a trailer – if you want to get loose.
Among boards geared for similar waves, like Channel Island’s curvy little Rocket 9, or …Lost’s perennial favorite, the Sub Scorcher and especially the Sub Scorcher 2, the Spam is unique in its slightly straight, almost crude outline. The wings are abrupt and severe—10″ from the tail, the rail line angling drastically towards a fairly curveless swallow. Trimmed of its fat, for a “groveler,” it seems like it could handle its own in some juice.
“I wanted something that would work even up to 5- or 6-foot tubing waves and still hold in,” Agius says.
The original model came as a thruster set-up, with the option to ride it as a twin, or twin with a small trailer. This winter, they’re coming out with a twin-only, for the purists.
“We tried some with the five-fin set-up and I ended up liking it so much better as a thruster and a twin,” Agius says. “We just started running it as a straight twin. The twin-fin only option’s side fin boxes are set slightly further back. I wanted something that’s for sloppier waves, to lose that extra drag. I wanted to see if I could get even more speed out of it.”
SUPER offered me a Spam model to demo. At 6’0″, 195lbs on a good day, I was encouraged to go a little under-volume, opting for a 5’9″ thruster set-up, despite the fact that it was 29.3L, which is at least a liter-and-a-half under-volume of even my slimmest of standard shortboards.
With the Spam being geared towards speed, I knew that if I rode it as a thruster I’d need something reliable (read: large) and fairly stiff as far as fins go. Agius is a Captain Fin guy, and has been running it with their Tyler Warren-designed twins. Futures makes a few options that would probably work damned well, too. The Akila Aipa or their standard T1 are probably the closest to what Agius’ has been putting through their paces. Futures’ Brian Robbins pointed me in the direction of their new Jon Pyzel fiberglass Control Series. I’d ridden Futures’ large John John Fins for the last year, found them pretty versatile across a handful of my favorite boards, and the Pyzels didn’t seem too far off from those. They fall pretty low on Futures’ Ride Number scale, a three, similar to the Large John John techflex I’d been running, which came in at a 3.8. Less spring, more traction, more or less—what Futures describes as “solid, engaged, and predictable.” The Control Series are the lightest fiberglass fins Futures has made to date, with the addition of a carbon strip allowing for a stiff fin with a slimmer profile—all the grit with less gut.
The board felt springy and quick during my first few sessions in San Diego, despite fairly unremarkable conditions. I tossed it in my boardbag for a recent trip to Hawaii, seeing that the forecast for early December was looking slow and on the small side. Feeling light and loose in boardies and room temperature water, the little rocket fish felt right at home in the more playful corner pockets on the North Shore, and loved being tossed around in 3-foot Backdoor and Off The Wall. On days I’d struggle on a standard high-performance shortboard, the Spam felt zippy, quick off a bottom turn and fast down the line, and nimble but surprisingly stable while tube riding.
“In Oz, we have these punchy, tight-pocket little beachies,” Agius told me, “Pretty much my favorite types of waves. It’s perfect for me, to have a small board to get going, but still surf aggressively in the pocket. A board that’s still a fish, and made to go fast, but you can surf top-to-bottom and off the tail like a normal shortboard.”
Ultimately, it’s a board to make the most out of meager conditions, but won’t let you down if the winds back off and the tide drops and a punchy mysto windswell shows up right when you get off work.
If you’re looking for something that can milk lackluster conditions, as well as work in decent waves, the Spam could be the board you’re looking for. You can see the Spam, as well as SUPER’s myriad other models, at any of their many retailers internationally. And if somehow there’s not a brick and mortar near you, they’ll kindly ship you one from their San Diego warehouse anytime.