The Best Performance Boards in 2019 for Small Waves

January 15, 2019

 Don't be shy... step right up and take your pick!


Mother nature can be a cruel mistress.


Like a Chihuahua on a meth bender, she’s often impossible to control. Dishing out volcanos, earthquakes and gaping sinkholes that swallow entire Guatemalan neighbourhoods on a whim.


Talk about ruining your day, amiright?


Other times she puts away her teeth, and instead of whipping up gusts of wind that’d blow the freckles right off your skin, she pulls up the covers and presses pause on the weather.


This is great if you live in fear of falling asleep every night, only to be woken by a ginormous sinkhole opening up next to your bed. But it ain’t so fantastic if you look forward to the epic waves those storms out to sea send forth.


For those days when Mother Nature decides not to play ball though, we’ve got the perfect boards.


I’m talking small wave grovelers that are fun and forgiving. Boards that make you feel like a much better surfer than you actually are, in conditions that are about as inspiring as schooner spew on the pavement in front of your local pub.


In short, they’re the boards most of us will ride for the majority of our lives, as we try in vain to replicate our best days of surfing.


...Lost - Puddle Jumper HP


Matt Biolos is a master of his craft, consistently pumping out premium quality boards for professional, intermediate and beginner surfers alike.


The Puddle Jumper HP is no exception. Designed as an upgrade on the much-loved Puddle Jumper, this sled makes surfing mush, fun. Paddling is a pleasure and you can ride all the waves while harboring a Filipe Toledoesque intensity. With a deep vee, extra volume where it counts and a sleek silhouette that belies its buoyancy, you’ll look good in and out of the water.




These features make it perfect for when you want to rip when the swell doesn’t offer much more than a few little runners. For having fun, going fast and paddling rings around your enemies.


Channel Islands - Neck Beard 2


I’m going to assume you watched Dane and Stab’s Electric Acid Surfboard Test, right?


Seeing him tear the bag out of that fun little right-hand point break on a Neck Beard 2 made me want one. Then I remembered; Dane Reynolds could lose both his legs in a freak pasta making accident and still surf better than, well... everyone.



Regardless, the Neck Beard 2 is an alluring board when the waves are small. It allows easy entry from the takeoff and plenty of pop when you want to get fancy.


If going fast is your wheelhouse and you like boards that are tried and tested, the Neck Beard 2 is worth a gander… peach fuzz under your jawline not included.


Pukas - Heaven’s Door


Pukas isn’t a well-known shaper in the southern hemisphere, but that isn’t because they don’t make quality boards.


In fact, Pukas have helped put Spanish surfers such as Aritz Aranbu and Naxto Gonzalez on the map by supplying them dependable boards for any conditions. And while you may not see Naxto swooping into a Nazaré behemoth on a Heaven’s Door, it’s nevertheless a fantastic board for gouging it out in small conditions.

This comes down to its gentle rocker and the spiral-V that runs off the tail. The soft edges also mean you can also put it on the rail without worrying about it flicking out.


This all adds up to a merciful board that’s enjoyable to ride when the waves are lacklustre. Oh... let's not forget it also looks like an absolute peach!


Firewire - The Seaside (Helium Range)


I’ve had two Firewires over the past 10 years, both of which cost a lot but rode like a charm.


The only downside is that I find them super easy to snap. One bit the dust on a 3-foot shorey, while the other met its match in a Mexican closeout. The Seaside, however, looks like something I'd have a hard time putting my foot through. Not to mention its been designed by arguably the world's smoothest surfer, Rob Machado.


Thanks to Sideshow Machado, The Seaside has a more refined outline with a squashed nose and tail. This means it turns tight and drives through steeper sections, whilst still feeling loose, cruisey and fun.


I've been told to think about it as a performance fish… a fish that can be ridden at Teauhpoo or your local hunting ground during summer, that is.


Semente Surfboards - The Thug


Sometimes the worst conditions can bring out the best in us. But in order to do so, we need a board under our feet that’s built to shred slop.


Enter The Thug by Semente Surfboards. Created so you can rip when its onshore and knee high, The Thug is the schoolyard bully we’re totally afraid of but also want to befriend. Complete with a flat rocker and a double concave bottom to help you generate speed in small waves, plus boxy rails and a fuller frame.


All of which come together so can you fly like a bat out of hell in waves that are just short of your worst nightmare.


Pyzel Surfboards - Gremlin


If you like your boards short and chunky then you’ll love the Gremlin.


Modelled off Pyzel’s incredibly popular Ghost, this sled comes with all the bells and whistles one would expect on a premium quality small wave board, including extra volume, a flat rocker and a wider outline.


It nearly goes without saying these design features make paddling a breeze and maintaining your speed on gutless swell achievable. The extra curve near the tail also means it'll hold its own when it's bigger, so you can take it out when the swell starts to build. 


More Stripe than Gizmo, it only takes a couple of waves on the Gremlin for you to get excited about surfing all over again.


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