Thank gosh for the Flyer. It worked 20 years ago, when with a single deft, righteous flourish of his hand plane Al Merrick ushered the inglorious toothpick era out the factory door. And it works now.
The proliferation of surfboard models — the brand new coinages, the 2.0s, the spin-offs, the step-up versions, the step-downs — is apt to make one suspicious, not to mention weary. It’s hard to keep track of them all, and meanwhile surfboard model namers are running out of names.
Is it all just a elaborate ruse? Surfboard design, in theory, should be about function, not fashion — and the laws of hydrodynamics don’t change from one year to the next.
“It’s Channel Islands’ most popular board ever, and it’s very possibly the most ridden surfboard model of all time”
Then there’s the Flyer, still here after all those years. Not the New Flyer, mind, a revamped version that was unveiled a few years ago, but the original, the OG, reissued with the very same dimensions and the same volume, even though measuring surfboards in litres wasn’t a thing back then.
It’s Channel Islands’ most popular board ever, and it’s very possibly the most ridden surfboard model of all time. Of course, just because everybody’s doing it doesn’t mean it’s right, doesn’t mean they’re not all out of their minds, but then Al has managed to convince one or two reasonably proficient surfers to ride his boards over the years.
Channel Islands OG Flyer Surfboard
Dimensions: 5’11” x 19 ½” x 2 ½” / 31 litres
Shaper: Al Merrick
Materials: EPS/Epoxy resin with carbon strips
Price: €820 / £720
It was the Flyer that kickstarted the trend away from impractically narrow banana boards, hopelessly unsuited to the average surfer, towards the shorter, wider, more voluminous craft that nowadays predominate. Waves are still waves, surfers are still surfers, and the Flyer is still one of the best surfboards in existence, hence its inclusion in the quivers of multiple world-tour luminaries, and in this list.
Get it the same length you are tall. You pay a premium for the EPS/Epoxy construction (lighter, probably more durable, faster in smaller waves); subtract maybe a hundred for traditional PU/PE.