Okay, I’ve now had a couple of good surfs on the latest FLV version of the Wanderer. While the Winged Pin is a modernised version of what I was riding in the early 70’s, the Wanderer is an updated version of the boards that I was riding in the late 70’s, when I first joined the pro tour.
This particular design was originally developed from having to create boards that would handle the intense reef breaks of Cronulla, the Point, Shark Island and Voodoo. Boards that had to negotiate extremely difficult takeoffs, and then go like a bat out of hell across steep faces while finding their way through deep barrels. Then I tweaked then to handle the performance surfing that was required for the late 70’s pro tour. And that’s exactly how this board feels, very comfortable and capable dropping down vertical faces. Happily flies through double overhead ledges, and yet out on the face, it’s ready to carve and whack the lip anytime. Or if you prefer, just cruise and glide, smoothly and powerfully with style.
PADDLE POWER - As with all recent designs, the paddle power of this board is exceptional and I was able to catch anything I paddled for, effortlessly. The part of the reef at Uluwatu that I use to test my boards, is generally a very difficult wave to catch, and I’ve had some extremely frustrating sessions at times. But this board made it a breeze. Actually, for a large part of the session yesterday, I watched a newcomer, endlessly miss waves, get pitched in the lip numerous times, or get left behind. Welcome to Uluwatu buddy….
DROPPING IN & BOTTOM TURNS - There were some solid double overhead sets yesterday, that were doubling up on the ledge, making the take offs pretty sketchy at times. But the board handled them like a dream, staying smooth and solid under my feet, and launched into the bottom turns without missing a beat. A couple of times, because I was so late getting in, I had to pull up very quickly to get in under the lip, but the board handled it no probs.
GLIDE - One of the reasons that this part of the reef is so difficult to surf, is that it’ll switch back and forwards from a top to bottom barrel to a fat, lifeless face, as it moves over ledges and holes in the reef. Not only does this make it very challenging to surf, it also demands a lot of from a board. But this makes it a great testing ground for boards, and I know that if a board can handle here, it can handle anywhere. The Wanderer passed the test with flying colours, gliding effortlessly across the dead sections.
OUT ON THE FACE - The board was very happy out on the face, swooping nicely through long gliding turns and then holding its line firmly in more solid carves. When I first saw the blank for this one, I noticed that there was quite a bit of curve in the stringer out through the fin area, and remember thinking that this board should be capable of some pretty sharp turns. And it sure is! Out of curiosity, I tried a couple of tighter hooks under the lip, just to see what the board would do, and the board really surprised me, coming around a lot quicker and sharper than I expected.
FIN - I used an 8 1/4” flex style fin, set 7 1/2” up from the tail. This made the board very solid and positive under my feet, but about halfway through the surf, I felt like I wanted a touch more drift in the tighter turns, so I moved it up to 7 3/4”. At this placement, the board still felt very solid under my feet, but the tighter turns felt smoother and cleaner. I’ve been really happy using the 8 1/4” flex style single fins, but this board feels like it might really like a 70’s Brewer style fin, which is what I would have been using in this style board in the late 70’s. I’ll have to hunt one down.
SUMMARY - The Wanderer is a very reliable board that picks up waves easily, is very comfortable and capable in solid conditions, and will still happily swoop and glide across fatter faces. It holds it’s line nicely through solid carves, and is very capable of pulling tighter moves in the pocket. I remember that back in the mid to late 70’s, a quiver was pretty much unheard of, and so most of us just had one board that did it all.
And that’s what the Wanderer is… an all round, performance single fin that can pretty much handle whatever you throw at it, giving you the option of cruising or carving. Or even a little bit of modern style shredding, if you’re in the mood to surprise people just how well a single fin can perform. And if you happen to feel like you’re ready to hit the road, 70’s style, with just one board, here it is….
The test board was 6’5” x 20” x 2 3/4” using an 8 1/4” flex style fin.