Dimensions: 6’2″ x 21″ x 2.7″
Nose Dimensions: 17.3″ x 2.0″ (ie wide)
Tail Dimensions: 16.4″ x 1.7″ (it’s wide with a big swallow)
Deck Glassing: 1 x 6oz. & 1 x 4oz.
Bottom Glassing: 1 x 4oz. with 1 x 6oz. fin patch
Finish: Gloss
Fins: FCS G5

Brakes on

Brakes on the Retro Fish

A good friend of mine first discovered an Oxbow fish whilst passing through Byron Bay on an extended surf trip. He bought the board, lovingly named her “Red” (because she was red), and we shared her for many days of intimate summertime fun (but not at the same time). Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and Red began to show her age, eventually turning brown, though her temperament never faded. A classy lady in every sense of the word.

For this review we got our hairy palms on the 2009 model of Oxbow’s Retro Fish. It is a beautiful board, from the colour and design through to the finish and intricacies of the shape. You can just tell that a lot of thought has gone into this template. Walking down the beach I overheard a couple of quite hot girls say, “Wow, look at that board”. Sums it up, really.

How did it go?

Conditions were pretty much perfect for testing a retro fish. The waves were variable between one to three foot and the wind got weird on us, going from nothing to full northerly, to onshore, to nothing. My first few waves would not have impressed the semi-hot girls on the beach. I stuck a rail, indulged in rhinoplasty (nosedive), even tried a few speed pumps – which are not cool and certainly not retro. But then I decided to relax. Riding a retro fish is not about doing rad turns or stressing about performance – it’s all about flow. And the rest of my session was an absolute dream: I was taking off on anything because the volume gives you some serious paddle muscle and then cruising along the face like it was 1975. Fat sections would melt by as this board, which I lovingly (and creatively) named “Olive” glided effortlessly towards the shore. The more I relaxed the better the session became and I realised that this is the perfect alternative to being a frustrated surfer on your standard 6’0” thruster, having a crappy old time on average summer days. In fact less than average waves looked magic from Olives perspective because she made them fun, made them an adventure.

My co-tester, Chris, is big. In fact he’s so big that he has been lovingly named “Biggie C” (we’re an imaginative bunch when it comes to naming conventions). He loved Olive even more than I did, maybe more than he ever loved Red. He was carving little arcs on a range of left-handers, did some nice roundhouse cutties on the rights and even defied gravity when Olive allowed him a foam-climb. The man got all gooey. But before we play Elton John’s “Can you feel the Love Tonight”, which is Biggie C’s favourite song though he won’t admit it, let’s run through the pros and cons of this board:


  • She’s got flow
  • Retro surfing makes average waves feel great
  • The board paddles beautifully
  • Drive through fat sections like a trip to McDonalds
  • When you get into the zone you’ll start to arc into some fun turns
  • Price – she’s affordable
  • Pretty design
  • Walk up the board for some old school styling


  • You have to relax and if full-on performance is your thing maybe let this one pass, ‘cos you may not get her on the rail too much
  • Takes a bit of getting used to
  • Watch out for nasal dips on late take-offs
  • You might give up your thruster
  • Nothing else really, maybe that she’s made in a factory overseas – but Oxbow are committed to sustainability, so that’s a nice touch

We loved Olive and if you’re looking for a board that will make summertime fun again then we think you will too.

Oxbow surfboards are made by BIC. Check out their spin here: http://www.bicsportna.com/oxbow/retrofish.html

Their worldwide site is at: http://www.oxboworld.com/

In Australia the boards are distributed by Glide Industries.