Review: Al Merrick M4 Shortboard

The M4 is a classic, streamlined Al Merrick creation featuring a pretty flat entry rocker and increased tail kick. The rail is full and there is a single concave along the entire length of the board. The M4 was released back in 2004 but could first be seen under the feet of Dane Reynolds at the 2003 X-Games. Since then it has become one of the key members of the Channel Islands’ short board stable. Designed primarily as a small-wave board, the M4 has been seen in use by ‘CT contenders at beach breaks around the world.

So how did it fare at


  • 6.0 tall
  • 18 3/16 wide
  • 2 3/16 thick

We tested it with FCS fins including the K-fin, GAMs, G5s, Sunny Garcia Signature model and some interesting combos of them all.



This board has a wide nose and tail and supposed to be ridden an inch shorter than your usual short board. Since my usual short boards are 5’11 I must admit taking the 6.0 out felt somewhat like stepping onto a boat for a good few sessions. As I got used to the extra volume I started noticing the intricacies of this board, especially when combined with the K-fins a match made in heaven. The board is smooth and fast in clean surf and due to the extra width I really had to concentrate on not digging a rail or the nose on sharp, snappy turns. This took a bit of getting used to but I swear I started actually enjoying doing longer, more drawn out turns and finding better lines than I had done on my other boards.

Surfing is all about learning and sometimes riding a board that is supposedly wrong for you can yield far more in new-found knowledge and tiny tweaks to your style than always getting ‘the one’. Down the line you get loads of speed but keep your turns fluid or you’ll lose it when you get to the lip. I really like pushing the tail out at the top of turns as you can get that extra inch or two that lands you right back in the pocket. I like the board most in head high, clean surf as my smoother turns were feeling really good. I’m no aerial wizard so I can’t boast my exploits in that department but maybe if I had tested the 5’10 model… just maybe!

The board holds a good line in a barrel and the fat rails held me tight whether coming out through the eye, the curtain or the doggy door. Al reckons this board is perfect for girl surfers as well and I agree. Ridden proportionate to the size I had here, girls who rip would be looking even more smooth and graceful than they already do.


  • Good quality, it’s taken a beating and still looks good and rides well.
  • Smooth and fast, works across a diverse range of condition.
  • With practise you can get your top turns really fluid.


  • Wide nose and tail mean that you may dig the rail a bit more , especially if the board is too long for you.
  • An off-the-rack board, standard template.