Friday, August 7, 2009


Didn't sleep too well Wednesday night - all I could see was walls of white water.

We were very busy in the shop and that helped the day pass quickly. Thursday evening, dash home, get my self together and beat up to Gwithian. It was looking very mellow compared to the night before - chest high sets - clean and very workable. Perhaps now I could actually find out what the Bonga was like instead of simply fighting for survival.

I carried the board the three quarters of a mile or so to my favourite spot and thought 'this puppies heavy' I had to change hands a couple of times en route no big deal but not something the svelte 18lbs of Naish'ness makes me do. I weighed the Bonga on our shop scales later and it registered 23lbs with fins and leash. Actually not bad at all. The tail is also just slightly heavy for the balance point of the handle to be spot on. Again no big deal just a minor niggle that would not even register if I were straight off the beach into the break, in fact it's an easily solved issue by having a couple of leash plugs put in the deck a'la, C4 never understood why all the brands don't do this so much easier to carry using your paddle - come on guys! I would be very interested in the all up weight of a C Sub vector.

Paddling out was a breeze the board is super stable and to be honest I did not even notice the fact that it was a stepped rail or at least what their effect was - I have admitted to being a novice!!.

Turning into the wave was getting easier as was riding up over the wash. Step back, all my weight on the back foot with my forefoot almost 'hovering' in a sort of an olly manouver, and away we went. No drama. In fact the Bonga was probably my easiest first session of any board that I've had.

On the waves, which were VERY F A T and slow the board paddled in easily, cut back sharp and trimmed well enough for me to get as close to nose riding it as I can. It held it's edge solid and was totally drama free. Even on some of the later, steeper take off's the nose showed no signs of pearling or bogging down - it was great and were it not for the fact that I had the delights of the Naish under my belt I would have been totally blown away. The problem for me was that I had spent months - well at least three months - serving my apprenticeship on the flighty little 9'3" and whilst still far from being any where near competent I had been shown glimpses of what it can do. I think that the Bonga could take me close to the promised land if I were good enough or put in the time on it that would teach me the delights of board control from the tail, BUT I'm not sure that I want to loose any of the time that I have put in on the Naish.

I'm not sure that this really makes sense. My Naish has frustrated and thrilled me. It teases me and, on occaisions makes me actually believe that I can do this stuff and then . . . . . it's slaps me down like a total first time novice. I have dripped and moaned about choppy conditions - and then had a great surf in chop, I have fallen off in glass and excelled in the bumpiest of faces. The Naish has no limits and I'm sure that the Bonga does not either - it's just that - I've paid my dues on the Naish and it seems to suit me better. On Thursday on the Bonga when compared to the handfull of longboarders that were out struggling to paddle in to waves that I was tearing it up with three nice cutbacks, I knew in my heart of hearts I would have made five on the Naish - and that left me feeling a tad frustrated.

I have to keep in mind that the Bonga is £619 - its half the price of a Naish - surfs so well and is incredibly well made. Bouyant for it's size (I'm 203lbs 14 1/2 stone) and it floats me easily. I'm probably borderline on the Naish and yet would not want to give that up.

If you are looking for a performance, short Sup, and fancy a new board at pretty much used prices - get yourself a ride on a Bonga it's a bargain.

As an epilogue I surfed tonight (Friday) on the Naish. How could I ever of wanted another board? Next time it'll kick me in the teeth and I'll be begging for the Bonga!

Two very different days

Firstly - apologies - It was not intentional to drag this out like some soap instalment - it's just that this swell has been a long time coming and we have been so busy at work by the time that we get home (6.15ish) load up, get down the beach, surf, get back, have some food it's gone 11 and to be honest I'm too done in to fire up the laptop and blog - anyway that's my excuse.

So - the Bonga - what's it like?
I have to say I reckon it's brilliant - bear in mind what's written here are just the first impressions of an enthusiastic fat boy who still falls off a lot. Please don't take this as a review - I'm not qualified or remotely good enough to do that this is just a comparison from my perspective and experience of the boards that I have and have had.

Wednesday - Big swell (for us) four or five lines of white water to battle through before getting into the green. I was worried that I might not be able to stand on the thing. Totally unfounded - pushing the board through the first few lines I jumped onto the deck and paddled out pretty much first time. The nose rode up over a couple of foot of whitewater very easily and was much more stable on the other side than the Naish - no death wobbles. Paddling was reasonably straight and true and there seemed to be a bit more glide than the 9'3" - the Bonga hull has a slight v in it but is flat incomparison to the Naish's full blown keel. Even with the huge amount of water moving through I managed to stay dry side up and line up for my first wave.

I find turning any new board in front of a wave takes a bit of practise - the Bonga was no different. I resorted to a few wide flailing paddle strokes with weight on my heels before stepping back and stroking into what for me was a bloody great big monster. Shit or bust here go's - The sets were well overhead this one was the 2nd or third wave of the set and like the total tool that I am I stroked in pretty much as soon as I got out the back - why don't I learn - my wave selection has never been up to much.

It was not pretty - but it was fun - cranked in to the dredging left and fired off down the line with the lip threatning all the time. Hard on the inside edge, backhand for me and I managed to pop out without getting caught. Nice - paddle out try again. Pretty much the same really - no deft turns - wild slashy cutbacks or anything else really - no time just dive down the face, hang on for grim death trying to look as cool as I could and pop out before getting eaten. 2 for two - I liking this - scary but fun.

By now I was a hunded metres or more Godrevy side of where I went in. No channels just big walls closing out - as I said wave selection has never been my strong point one or two more of the same I got away with the next one I got greedy and hung on till the wash surfing it way too far inside and that was pretty much it. I struggled to get out for the next 10 - 15 minutes finally found my way into the green when the first of a decent set came through managed to paddle over the first and just made it over the second. The third took me over the falls and following the inevitable few seconds of backward body surfing my new leash parted company. Game over BOLLOCKS.

The swim?? in was ergh eventful I was teasy at loosing my board the saving grace being there were only a small handfull of guys out and no one on the inside.

The beach however seemed to be littered with people in various states of distress and exhaustion - me included. I retrieved my board and checked it over - I had lost one of the side bites but other than that perfect - tough little bugger. I sat and watched for a while. Bit of a result I thought - still don't know how it surfs though!!

Thursday night - the swell had dropped off enough to make the break a bit more surfable - so off I went.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nervous - Apprehensive - Disaster - Loving It

The Bonga pitched up today coinciding with the best forecast that we have had for weeks.

3pm 8ft 11secs 11mph 17c
6pm 8.5ft 12secs 9mph 16c
9pm 9ft 12secs 7mph 16

High tide was about 5.30pm - this forecast would normaly mean a decent, head high on the beach wave - it's going to be a baptism of fire. Nervous? Well I knew / heard that the old 10' Bonga was tippy and this fish was narrower than my Naish plus the stepped rails gave the board an even more slimmed down look. Unpacking it I thought 'This baby is going to be hot - possibly too hot' The tail is super slim but she's busty on top. Board dimensions are

Nose 19" (1' from end)
Tail 17.5" " "
Length 9'6"
Width 28 7/8"
Thickness 4"
Weight - wait (I'll get back to you)

1st off pics

Prettier than the web Pics

Step rails

Nose Lift


Making the Naish look Porky (And it definetly isn't) Now I'm aprehensive!

So having sized the board up I'm beginning to think 'This board is going to be too tippy' bear in mind what I wanted was something Fractionally more forgiving in chop than the Naish. Bugger. I began pinning my hopes on the fact that the board had less nose and tail rocker (hopefully keeping more of it in the water, and a slightly fatter nose that would not sink away sideways in chop.

Naish dimensions -

Tail 17" 1' off the tail
Nose 15" 1' off the nose
Width 29 1/4"

So the Bonga's tail is almost as tight as the Naish and the Bonga is a Swallow tail. I'm not sure but I think that shaper's use a swallow tail design to maintain the width of a board where a pin or a diamond tail would mean pulling the tail in too quickly. Please someone correct me if I'm wrong.

The nose tells the story though, two inches broader, still not the full rounded spoon of my old 9'8" Starboard and with more rocker than the Starboard. That is sort of in keeping with my plan, but what the hell would the effect of those rails be??

Picking the board up it felt light - full depth handle grip centrally placed and a great looking white diamond cut deck grip.

5.30pm could not come soon enough. I'm now typing this at 11.40pm and am totally knackered - sorry but the surf impressions will have to wait until tomorrow night - having said that the surf looks good then as well - could be a late night. Just to wet your appetite - I will be going in on the Bonga tommorrow as well, as I said before, tonight was a baptism of fire having lost a side fin and broke a brand new leash!!!