At the time of writing, the GOAT remains sidelined with a poorly hoof. It’s thus a time of quasi-mourning for the surf world, a foretaste of the Slater-less emptiness to come, but Slater’s favourite surfboard needn’t go unridden in the meantime.
The Gamma is his standard everyday shortboard model, fine-tuned for performance surfing and effective in a wide range of conditions (think chest-high and up). A deep single concave runs through the mid-section of the board leading into a V out the tail, which combined with the slight hip makes for a very fast and responsive feel.
It’s apparently also the model Slates won Chopes on in 2016, recording a perfect 20-point heat and smashing John John to smithereens in the process. That was in some not-especially everyday waves, if I remember correctly.
We’ve listed the shaper as Slater himself, which isn’t to say Slater got his hands dirty with EPS foam dust. He told Australian Surfing Life in their recent-ish surfboard issue: “I wasn’t in the shaping bay but I did verbally design the board and worked through a few renditions of it to get to this”.
“It’s also the model Slates won Chopes on in 2016, recording a perfect 20-point heat and smashing John John to smithereens in the process”
At 30 litres, the 5’10” we got our hands on is surprisingly voluminous, but these are the “bro” dims, not the “pro” dims. Helpfully, but also somewhat passively aggressively, the Gamma is available in standard punter dimensions and then high-performance dimensions, forcing the customer to undergo some uncomfortable soul searching and self-evaluation. Classic Slater mind games.
The HP dims for a 5’10” are 18 1/2” wide by 2 3/8” thick, resulting in a volume of 26.5 litres. That’s just a shade bigger than the version Slater surfed in Tahiti, which was 5’10” x 18 3/8” x 2 5/16”.
Slater Designs Gamma
Dimensions: 5’10” x 19 1/2” x 2 9/16” / 30 litres
Shaper: Kelly Slater
Materials: LFT (EPS/Epoxy)
You can read more about LFT, Linear Flex Technology, in our review of the Firewire SKX; the Gamma is also available in Firewire’s new Helium technology, which is only marginally more expensive and supposedly offers superior feel and response. Whichever tech you go for, your Gamma will be a Level One Eco Board, as indeed are all boards that come from the Firewire/Slater Designs stable.
How much that actually means is a fraught question on internet message boards. Sustainable Surf, the body responsible for awarding eco-board verification, says a Level One Eco Board has a 30% smaller carbon footprint than a standard PU/PE (74lbs vs 105lbs of CO2) and produces 40% less waste.