Surfing is an aesthetically focused pursuit. Whether it's the fluidity of a bottom-turn, the seemingly effortless arc of a well-executed cutback or simply the length of one's boardshorts, surfers have always been a style-centric bunch. After all, it's not just about riding a wave, it's about doing it with a sense of individuality and, for the lucky ones, grace. Recent years have seen a shift from the leaders of the sport riding largely performance shortboards to a wider range of shapes and lengths. This change has brought about a resurgence in the popularity of longboarding and a crop of boards combining leading board technology with design elements from the past. We took to NYC's local break at Rockaway Beach to put Modern Surfboards' noserider model the Retro to the test.
"The whole idea behind the Modern brand is to help surfers get to the next level in a fun way," says GSI product manager and designer Corey Davis. "The Retro was designed to make noseriding easy." Calling noseriding easy might be a bit presumptuous for those paddling into the lineup on a longboard for the first time. Requiring management of speed, board position and balance—all while working to stay in the sweet spot, or pocket, of the wave—noseriding doesn't come quick or easy. However, after paddling into a few waves on the 9'1'' long Retro (which also comes in 9'6'' and 10'0'' lengths) it's clearly built for quick maneuvering and getting your toes on the nose.
One of the key design elements on the Retro is the V-shaped hull on the bottom of the front third of the board that is accompanied by a gradual concave. "The concave to belly V lets us do two things easily. First, we don’t have to be all the way back on the tail to make a directional change which is nice when you're learning to nose ride, and the concave provides exceptional lift when you start to make your fist steps to the nose," says Davis. On the first few waves, the ability to navigate such a large board with ease took a bit of getting used to. However after adjusting to throwing the board into quick turns, it's easy to find the pocket and start stepping toward the nose. A wide and stable deck from the tip to the tail makes a sturdy platform for advanced surfers to push their longboarding to the next level and a forgiving ride for beginners.
Overall, the Retro is a versatile longboard for advanced surfers and beginners alike. Perfect for smaller surf, the board paddles with ease and gets into waves early for a relaxed ride. Getting onto the nose will take practice, but the zen-like state it offers is worth taking a few waves on the head for. The board's large fin box allows for experimentation with both positioning and the fin shape itself. We threw in a 10.5'' Pin Fin from Almond Surfboards for quick pivots and good hold in the pocket.
Available in red and seafoam green from Global Surf Industries, the Retro starts at $725 with free shipping in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Images by Hans Aschim