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Tyler Surfboards Super Chief – First Impressions

So I’ve had my new Tyler Surfboards 11′ Super Chief for a few days now and have had the chance to surf it in a variety of small reef and beachbreak waves. Initial impressions are that it’s going to be a fast, fun and very versatile board that I’m going to enjoy surfing in a wide range of conditions

My Super Chief’s specs:

  • Length: 11’0″
  • Width: 23 1/2″
  • Nose: 17 1/2″
  • Tail: 14″
  • Thickness: 3 1/8″

Overall Impressions:

  • It’s fast (like, “redefining makeable section” fast)
  • It’s very smooth – no edge catches or other nasty surprises
  • It paddles well and catches waves very easily
  • It turns very nice, just slightly stiffer than a 10′ Noserider
  • It can noseride pretty darn well – hanging 5 is no big deal

The Shape:
Overall it’s a classic Bing Pipeliner / Skip Frye Eagle -inspired speed shape – what is today referred to as a “glider”. It’s a very parallel shape with a slightly forward width distribution and semi-rounded pin tail. The nose comes to a pretty sharp point but is still reasonably wide, giving it nice noseriding abilities and resistance to pearling in late takeoffs while remaining narrow enough to avoid digging in turns.

The rails are upswept in the nose transitioning to roughly 50/50 through the middle and finishing in a soft 60/40 or maybe 70/30 through the tail. There is belly from nose to about 2/3 of the way back blending into a mild V through the finbox and tail. There’s a pretty flat deck with smooth natural rocker and a bit of flip in the tail, which is what I prefer for my traditional style of longboard surfing.

The finbox is standard size and is currently sporting a 9″ raked noseriding fin. Turns are made carving (as opposed to pivoting like a Noserider with straight fin) and while, with this fin and the pintail, it’s a bit stiffer than my 10′ Craftsman Noserider, it’s still quite agile and easy to get pointed where I want to go, even in small beachbreak.

Despite its length, at 3 1/8″ thick it is quite thin compared to most boards this size. Combined with the pulled-in planform, this makes floatation enough to comfortably carry my 225lbs for prone paddling, but I can’t really kneepaddle it. This doesn’t bother me; I’ve had only one board that was a good kneepaddler (a custom 10′ Yater Spoon with stepdeck) and the convenience/coolness of kneepaddling that board was totally overshadowed by the lameness of its overly cork-like feeling on waves.

I like my boards to ride lower in the water than that, and coming from a 10′ Craftsman Noserider, this thing is an easy transition – just enough additional float to get the “glider” thing happening nicely, but not so much that it feels like I’m riding a supertanker instead of a surf board. It definitely does not feel like a giant corky tandem board or anything like that – more like a finely tuned, super smooth, catch-and-ride-anything-and-love-it type of machine.

Riding It:
Speaking of comparisons to the Noserider, one of the things I like most about this board is the lack of nose concave. As much as I love Tyler’s Noseriders – I’ve been riding them almost exclusively since the mid 90s – the Nuuhiwa-inspired nose concave is, in a word, extreme. What you get in terms of noseriding performance you have to give up in terms of paddling. I mostly follow Tyler’s lead on this – “I don’t care how it paddles, I care how it surfs” – but I will say that the Super Chief is more versatile in this regard.

I can think of many early morning fall sessions with strong offshore winds that made me hate life on my Noserider, but the Super Chief’s nicely pulled in nose shape is much more aerodynamic. The lack of concave makes getting into waves early – before they’ve broken – an extremely easy thing. So, if the Noserider is a specialized scalpel designed for long noserides in fast, relatively hollow waves, then the Super Chief is more like a Swiss Army knife. It won’t noseride quite as automagically (although with proper setup hanging 5 is very easy), but it will adapt to a wider variety of conditions with (in my opinion) greater aplomb.

What I’m really looking forward to is getting this thing into some nice overhead surf. I can already tell that it’s going to absolutely go off. The overall smoothly blended shape and long lines give this board an enormous speed potential and completely redefine what constitutes a makeable section… “If in doubt, shoot it!” is the order of the day. I’m confident it will handle anything I choose to drop in on and remain smooth and confident at speed.

Conclusion:
So overall, I couldn’t be happier with this board. With two small kids at home, a busy career and a lot of other stuff going on in my life, my water time in recent years has been limited. The Super Chief is the board I need right now, something that makes surfing insanely fun again, that lets me catch almost any kind of wave easily and is totally fun to ride. I can do all my favorite tricks on it easily, dropknee turn it with grace, and noseride when I feel like it. I really couldn’t ask for more in a surfboard. Thank you Tyler!

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