Gear Test: Rip Curl Wetsuits And Channel Islands Surfboards

Last weekend at Ponto Jetty in Carlsbad, California, the good people at Rip Curl and Channel Islands teamed up for a good ol’ fashioned demo day. As always seems the case for demos, the waves were on the small and closed out side, but that didn’t stop my brother and me from peeing in, err, trying out a few of Rip Curl’s new suits and attempting to rip some Channel Islands’ whips. With team guys like Tom Curren, Alex Smith, and Sean Taylor helping us into the wetsuits and waxing up our boards; a great time was had by all!

To purchase any of these Rip Curl wetsuits and Channel Islands surfboards, go to the TransWorld SURF/Jack’s Online Surf Shop located at

Rip Curl F Bomb Fullsuit
MSRP: $390
I wore the Rip Curl F Bomb 3/2 backzip with the Fireskin polypro lining—the red, sweater-like fabric that Rip Curl puts in the chest area of this particular model. The suit was really warm, too warm for the conditions actually. I don’t think the extra weight the Fireskin lining adds to the suit is worth it unless you’re surfing frigid water like that in NorCal. Down south, you’re probably better off with an E Bomb, a bit lighter and still nice and warm. That said, the suit fit really well and didn’t flood upon duckdiving.—Justin Coté

Channel Islands 5’8 x 20 ¼ x 2 ¾ Quad “Fishcuit”
MSRP: $660
I liked how this board went down the line; fast and with plenty of drive, but when I went to turn my back foot went right off the back of the board. I don’t think Tom Curren was impressed. The Channel Islands Web site said you’re supposed to ride these 6 to 8 inches shorter than your normal board so I probably should have gone shorter as I normally ride a 6’0”. I think this board would work better at a longer, mushier wave than the quick little beach break snappers we were riding. That or I shouldn’t show up at demos hungover…—JC

Rip Curl 3/2 Insulator
MSRP: TBA (not released yet)
I’ve had a few Rip Curl suits in the last couple for years and I’ve enjoyed them all. My last one was an E-bomb, which is the top of the line fullsuit they offer. At the demo, I tried a Rip Curl Insulator, which in an old name they have brought back for use on a new suit. This is the mid-range price model suit Rip Curl offers and overall it was great. The entry is wider and much easier to get in than an E-Bomb and more suited for those of us who like back zips. There were a few baggy spots that I didn’t have on my E-Bomb, but overall the suit was stretchy, warm, and comfy—three things I appreciate in a wetsuit. I like the color and graphics, too.—Chris Coté

Channel Islands 5’6 x 20 x 2 ¾ “Fishcuit”
MSRP: $660
The waves were pretty crappy when we tried out these boards; it was about 1 to 2 foot and closed out. This board suited the conditions nicely—meaning it paddled my fat ass into tiny waves and went fast when I stood up. I did a mean coffin ride on one wave that got me pretty stoked. I don’t know about doing snaps and stuff on this board, but cruising down the line was great.—CC

Channel Islands 5’5 “Gravy”
MSRP: TBA (not released yet)
This is a board that Rob Machado has been working on as an update to his “Robber” model. It’s kind of weird that he would already need an update for a board that just came out, but he’s Rob, so he can do whatever he wants. This board felt like he was trying to make the Robber more like a shortboard and less like a fish. The tail was super thin and the bottom had a deep double barrel concave that went through the tail. I think the board is for surfing small waves, but it was pretty thin, so it didn’t give you much help in gutless surf. I see where Rob is trying to go with this board, but it didn’t have much squirt when you first take off—I think there needs to be a little bit more foam in this thing—cool shape and close to being a winning concept.—CC

Channel Islands 6’0” x 20 ½ x 2 1/2 “Pod” with no fins
At the end of my board-testing bonanza, I rode a big fat pod with no fins and it was great. You could stand back on the tail and cut down the waves on edge like you’re riding a big thick alia that floated. I actually had a lot of fun riding this thing with no fins. I lost my board, swam in, skimboarded on a few, then paddled back out and did some 360s—it was killer.—CC

Demo day with Rip Curl team riders Tom Curren, Alex Smith, and Sean Taylor. Photo: Justin Cote

Demo day with Rip Curl team riders Tom Curren, Alex Smith, and Sean Taylor. Photo: Justin Cote

Who are these clowns that test this stuff out? Chris and Justin Cote are editors at TransWorld SURF and have a combined 50 years of surfing experience. I think we’re also supposed to declare that Rip Curl and Channel Islands advertise in our fine publication and Web site, too.