Welcome to the first-ever People’s Board Review. “What the hell is this and why does it have vaguely Marxist undertones,” you ask? Well, it’s a board test series in which we enlist working-stiff, relatable rippers to give us feedback on the latest surfboard models in dims you can find right there in the rack at your local surf shop. Because you probably don’t need to know if a pro’s custom sled feels a little off when reconnecting with the transition after an inverted full-rotation—but you do want to know if the stock version paddles well, if it can generate speed easily and if the thing can turn worth a damn.
For this review, we put four RS Surf Co. models in the hands of four surfers of varying sizes and board preferences and took them down to fairly average California beach break on a peaky, head-high day. The boards included the “El Bandido”, a performance blade with training wheels; the “Musubi”, a squished-down shortboard with a curvy outline; the “Love Capsule”, a fat and flat small-wave ripper; and the “Low Love”, a high-performance blade meant for juicy surf.
Here’s what you need to know about the “El Bandido”, the board our testers agreed was the most well-rounded of the bunch:
With its wide point forward and some hidden foam in the nose, this tri-fin craft offers high-performance feelings in a range of conditions without making you work too hard for it. While Tester #4 — the lightest of the bunch at 125 lbs., and who rode the “Bandido” in 5’8” x 19.25″ x 2.38″ 27.57 L — didn’t like that the board carried extra volume above the chest, the three other testers thought the “El Bandido” knew its niche — somewhere between a potato-chip thruster and a beefy groveler — and filled it perfectly. “This was the most well-rounded shortboard,” said Tester #1, who is 5’9” and typically rides boards with a volume around 26 liters, but didn’t mind the slightly fuller shape (ridden in 5’8” x 19.25” x 2.38” with 27 L). “It caught waves really easily and felt like it did everything I wanted it to. Just a good overall California shortboard. It’s a little more volume than I’m used to, but it didn’t feel too floaty at all. I was surprised by how well this board worked.” All four testers rode this craft with traditional polyurethane foam construction, although RS also offers this board in epoxy.
In the interest of getting a wide range of perspectives, the sizes of our testers ranged from 5’6” and 125 pounds to 5’11” and 215 pounds, with a preferred volume anywhere from 24 to 33 L. That said, all four agreed the “El Bandido” carried plenty of speed, especially for a fairly traditional thruster that isn’t specifically designed to coast through flat spots, with their speed score averaging out at 8. The lowest score for speed was a 7 from Tester #2 (5’11”, 215 lbs.), who rode the “Bandido” in 6’2” 20.5” x 2.5” 36 L and still thought it had plenty of glide. “I really liked the fact that I was riding a 6’2”, but it felt like a 6’0”. That little extra length helped me pretty much get any wave I wanted. It was really user friendly on the pop up and allowed me to kinda just cruise and link together [turns].”
Frontside Maneuverability: 7.3/10
“The width being forward, I personally didn’t like that,” said Tester #4 (5’6”, 125 lbs.), a light-footed ripper whose comfort zone is at or above the lip. “I felt like when I was bottom turning, it would get a little stuck.” While Tester #4 wasn’t feeling the foam distribution, and gave it a low score of 5 for frontside maneuverability, the two heaviest surfers thought it excelled in this category, giving it an 8 and a 9.
Backside Maneuverability: 7.5/10
Most surfers rate themselves as better surfers going frontside, but not Tester #1 (5’9”, 150 lbs.) who rode this model in 5’8” x 19.25″ x 2.38″ 27.57 L. “I always judge a board by its performance on my backhand, because I suck going right [laughs].” After a couple of backhand cracks on back-to-back shoulder-high lefts, Tester #1 came in singing the “El Bandido’s” praises. “I felt like I could come off the bottom backside and whip this board into the lip without a second thought.”
Tester #3 (5’8”, 175 lbs.) summed up the way all four testers felt about how the “El Bandido” paddled: “Something I really liked is that it’s not a round nose, but it has some width up there, so it helps you paddle. It seems like it gives you a little bit more volume, but it’s sort of hidden…it’s not all chunky. It’s just what the doctor ordered.” Tester #3’s “El Bandito” dims were 5’8” x 19.5” x 2.5” with a volume of 30.7 L.
Click the model names below for more reviews of RS Surf Co.’s fleet:
“Love Capsule” (a fat and flat small-wave ripper)
“Low Love” (a high-performance blade meant for juicy surf)
“Musubi” (a squished-down shortboard with a curvy outline)