Surftech has generated a lot of publicity over the past few years. Reading through online forums I have discovered the wrath of the old school and purists stands strong against change, whilst a large number of people swear by innovation regardless of its possible impact on the shaping industry. I’ll say straight up that I’m not going to argue the point of surftech versus conventional boards – I’m going to tell you how this particular board performed over 3 months of intensive use in a range of countries and conditions.
The model tested: 5’11 Ratboy
N: 11 1/2″
M: 18 1/2″
T: 14 1/2″
Th: 2 1/8″
Colour: Grey (Gray if you’re in the USA)
About the shaper (as detailed on the Surftech Site):
At just 33 years old, M10 Surfboards founder/shaper Geoff Rashe finds himself at the helm of one of the world’s hottest new shortboard labels. He is one of the first shapers in the USA to use in-house CNC technology for both design and production. As a contributing designer to the Surftech program, Rashe feels he brings modern precision to traditional art of his elder colleagues.
He shaped his first board in 1989 while a student at U.C. San Diego. “It was a 6′ 4” roundpin that I shaped for myself, but I sold it for $120. Back in Santa Cruz, Rashe worked at Arrow Surfboards from 1994 to 1996 and claims Bob Pearson as his biggest influence. Halfway through 1996 he started his own surfboard company, naming it M10 in honor of Mach 10. “I started under my mom’s deck here at her house on the Westside,” Rashe said. “Then for a short time I was in Watsonville and then we moved to the factory where we are now on the Westside of Santa Cruz.
About the Reviewer
Surfing for 17 years, with a focus on performance shortboard riding. By no means a pro but one of the guys who is out there on days big and small, throwing a bit of spray, pulling in and going for some of the manoeuvres he read about in Taj Burrows Book of Hot Surfing. He weighs in at a whopping 72kgs and measures a monster 175cms in height (look it up in Google if you want conversions). So, he may be a lightweight but in the words of Taj – “small guys surf with finesse” (or something like that).
So, how did it go…?
First session on this baby and I whacked in a set of YU FCS fins and paddled out in 4 foot clean, hollow surf in Durban, South Africa. Pulling in on those hollow faces beside the pier at the Bay of Plenty was a dream come true. The board generates incredible speed over short distances and was easy to stall and get slotted. As the day wore on the waves got fatter and I struggled to pull off any significant turns. The board felt extremely tight when cutting back or turning off the top. The G5’s would be making an appearance next.
Now this is a bit off-the-track but I never actually got another surf in at Durban because I literally couldn’t risk leaving the car keys anywhere on the vehicle (or hidden). They were electronic so stashing them in my legrope or pocket was also out of the question. A sad state of affairs (although car theft happens everywhere, I suppose).
Next stop, home at sunny Manly beach in Sydney, Australia. My first day back and I was lucky enough to score clean 3 foot peaky surf reeling off all the way along the beach from Queenscliff through to South Steyne. I picked a spot just left of the North Steyne Surf Lifesaving club and paddled into a reasonably heavy crowd. The first few waves closed out pretty fast but I liked the turn I was getting onto the whitewater (on closeout sections). When a clean set peaked up right in my line of fire I was into it like a bomb. The board holds a tight line and has plenty of drive. Despite its light weight it was quick and responsive in turns and I found floaters exceptionally easy to prolong.
So, keeping the G5’s in there I proceeded to surf every day for the next 2 months to really get a feel for this board’s performance. Highlights and lowlights next…
Some high and lowlights
In surf up to 4 foot (slightly overhead) I found this board to be fast, responsive and snappy. I especially liked the way my left re-entries felt.
Tube riding is especially fun on this board as it holds a tight line, allows really quick hard bottom turns and has plenty of drive.
I found that the lightness of the board made it difficult to land aerial tricks when the wind picked up. It’s super-easy to launch it but I do like the feeling of fibreglass weight beneath my feet on the way back down. Put it this way – you’d better hold the rail tight or risk losing your board to even a light gust of wind. Guys looking to get up into the air will love the lift you get with the Ratboy.
Face moves feel good on this board. Personally, I have pushed myself to a better level since surfing it and feel my frontside re-entries are progressively becoming more clean and powerful.
Pushing the board to the limit I decided to get out there on a 7 – 8 foot day. There would have been a few 9 foot bombs (double overhead in my books) pushing through. The board was, as expected, horrible. No disrespect to the Surftech but I have been out in surf that size on my fibreglass boards (similar dimensions) and still felt relatively secure. This Ratboy was flitting around like a matchstick out there. What I would have given for the comfort of my red Spider Safari 6 footer (or something a few inches bigger). I eventually landed a clean 6 foot left and couldn’t even drive the board up the face. I’ll be the first to admit that a better surfer probably could have done it easily but this is my review, so I’ll tell it like it was. Instead of carving the wave I was just holding on, being blown around like the little twig I realistically was. I proceeded to take a beating in the impact zone and eventually emerged to take several more on my bedraggled way back to shore. Not a fun day in what could have been an epic session.
Bear in mind that Surftech boards weigh less. A lot less. And this is great in small waves but in larger ones, for me anyway, I like to know there is a bit of weight beneath me (both when duck diving and paddling). In small waves however the lightness can be a revelation. Today, for instance, I paddled into a marginally overhead right that reeled off pretty damn fast (again at Manly beach) toward North Steyne. I executed a clean take-off and powerful bottom turn before smacking the lip with all my speed and power. This sent a pretty impressive spray off the top, resulted in a semi fins-free waft and an instantaneous drop back down the face. Another solid bottom turn and I was on top of the lip, floating really high, and another clean landing. 2 great moves, total stoke and I rode the foam all the way in (only to kook out on the 1 foot reform in the shorey ha ha ha).
Put it this way – the board has enabled me to get to some high up places that I would never have imagined successfully get back down from before.
So my verdict
This surftech is designed with the performance surfer in mind. Ratboy is famous for his power surfing and aerial repertoire. Follow in his steps riding this ultra-strong surfboard and you will fare well. Don’t take it out in big surf unless you have to (well at least it won’t break!!). And that is something I haven’t mentioned yet – the strength in these boards is incredible. I have smashed my chin into this particular surfboard so that it was a bleeding mess for an hour straight – yet the board showed not even a pressure dent. I have managed to chip away at the surface quite a bit (god knows how – probably in my mate’s van) but it’s simple and cheap to whack a bit of Epoxy resin in there.
Will I keep riding it?
Yes, for those glassy days at both beach and reef breaks – for sure. Peaky, onshore days seem to be my best on this board as well. Maybe it’s the lightness and flotation that make it so much fun in what would usually be considered very mediocre conditions? Am I looking forward to getting back on a piece of fibreglass and foam? Yes, of course. Surfing for me is about learning, progressing, diversity, adventure and most of all fun. I will always ride fibreglass boards but must say that this Surftech is now a key member of my quiver.
To conclude – I think this board is a perfect travel companion – tough, sturdy and high performance.
Surfd.com has given the Surftech M10 Ratboy a 4 Star rating and our coveted “Recommended” award.