Eggs, mid-lengths, whatever you want to call them, are surprisingly versatile boards. At under seven feet, they'll fit in dumpy beachbreak surf and can be whipped around pretty easily. Seven feet and over, you get a taste of longboard glide and trim, but still have the ability, depending on fins, to drive through big rail turns and get them close to vertical. With a pulled-in tail, they work pretty well in larger more critical surf, too. Typically you'll see them as single-fins, or 2+1s, with a big single-fin and two side bites.
But I've been there already, so I recently ordered up a 5-fin bonzer egg from Gary Hanel in Leucadia. Mine is 6'6" in length, but I'm a skinny dude, so I like 'em thin and on the narrow side. This one is 2 1/2" by 20 1/2". Stock dims would be thicker and wider, but even so, Hanel like to keep the rails thin and knifey, so his eggs don't feel boaty.
Anyway, so this board is incredible.
I'd never ridden a bonzer before this egg, at least not one that I can remember, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. They have a reputation for tracking more than people would like, acting a little like a single-fin that wants to draw horizontal lines and not break out of them easily. While I can imagine that would be an issue in a high performance shortie, that's EXACTLY what you want in an egg.
I was in love with this board on the very first legit bottom turn on a head-high wave. I'd ridden it a couple times in piddly, mushy surf, and it was fine, surfing like a glide-y short egg should. But once the waves have a little curve, and even a decent amount of juice, the board sings. Coming off the bottom the board just stores up huge amounts of energy--push as hard as you want, it’s only gonna go faster. Same with arcs back to the pocket. Come racing out of a high line, dip down the face a bit to set your line, then put your whole body on the tail and the board will not fail you, accelerating back in a swooping arc right toward the whitewater.
It holds in the steep stuff, too. With a relatively narrow tail and the stickiness of that big middle fin (I’m running it with a seven-inch fin, a little longer than most bonzer center fins), the board feels glued to the face when racing through pocket rides, or high-lining to make critical sections. Haven’t had the chance to get the board in hollow waves yet, but on an offshore day this fall, I can already picture the many (blown) toobs.
Now then: how is this different than a 2+1 egg? Great question. My normal egg, a 7’2″ with a 2+1, provides a similar, Cadillac-esque feeling off the bottom, but the bonzer feels like it has more control over the outcome. I can make finer adjustments during a rail turn. There’s less of a “just along for the ride” feeling. Part of that is due to this board being thinner and narrower, but controlling all of the water rushing out of the tail has to be helping.
I won’t pretend to understand how the bizarre complexities of the bonzer setup works. But after riding this one for a couple months, It feels like the egg was invented to be ridden as a bonzer. Get you one.