If Stab In The Dark is the main event, then please consider the Shaper Series as special features.
Presumably you’ve already watched our 36-minute film, in which Dane Reynolds takes 13 of the world’s best (unbranded) surfboards to South Africa for 10 days of rigorous and unbiased testing and flexing.
In the Shaper Series, a joint with our pals at Swell, we delve a little deeper on the other side of the coin; we step into the shapers’ bays and syphon their thoughts and reasoning around their art, and the board they shaped for Stab In The Dark 2016.
So, what did we tell our shapers? Boards to be delivered by June 1 in either LA or Sydney. Surfer is 6’0” and 190 lbs (86 kg), but will remain anonymous. Shoot location, South Africa. Surfboard must be 6’0” but width, thickness and volume all open to interpretation. Oh, and blank, blank, blank. Completely void of all branding or recognisable features like unique carbon patches. This is not a paid-for board guide – our readers are too savvy to make informed decisions based off that. Yes, there will be honesty. Every board will have positives and conversely, every board will have negatives. And, there’s a chance the board could break first wave, first turn, first air. If it does, apologies, you’re out.
“I’ve been reworking and updating all my tri-fins,” remarked Santa Cruz shaper William ‘Stretch’ Riedel, between puffs of his cigar. “Based on what we were told about the rider and the specifics requested, this board seemed like the perfect fit. I’m more well known for my more progressive designs and work with quads, but this seemed like the perfect opportunity to showcase my ability to make a more traditional/conservative design. A punchy beach break probably would be where it’s at its best. It’s not really a down-the-line point break board.” 
Though Dane didn’t really get to ride the Stretch board in the kind of waves it was designed for (instead riding it in what he described as “half foot dogshit”), he did comment on the board’s potential: “It felt really good considering the waves were really, really bad. And I’ve just travelled 40 hours, haven’t surfed in 10 days, and feel like a piece of shit. The board felt good; I’d be psyched to surf it again. It could be really fun with a more pockety wave. It went rail to rail nicely, but didn’t want to go down the line very much.” A surfer of Dane’s caliber can tell straight away if a board is good – or bad, even in subpar conditions. Dane didn’t need exceptional waves to score board number #23 a four out of five.
In case you missed the memo, we’re giving away all of the boards submitted for this year’s Stab In The Dark. Enter here:

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