Surf Small Waves Better: How to Choose the Right Summer Board for You?

  • 04.16.2021

Channel Islands Surf Shop Manager Evan walks us through the performance attributes of our most popular summer models: Rocket Wide, Neck Beard 2 and Ultra Joe.


The Ultra Joe is a progressive step forward for beginner/intermediate surfers while at the same time is an inviting step down for average to good surfers seeking something fun and cruisy on the smaller, weaker days. As compared to its predecessor the Average Joe, the all-new Ultra Joe boasts refined, sensitive rails, a double-bump squash tail, narrower nose with an updated rocker profile, and additional exit rocker. You don’t need to be a high level surfer to have fun on this board. Despite all these changes, one thing remains the same: the fun factor.


This model was inspired by Stab’s film project The Electric Acid Surfboard Test. We revisted Dane Reynold’s unique take on a high performance step down and updated it with new bottom contours, rocker and a slight tweak to its outline in the tail. Meant to be ridden slightly shorter than your height, this board loves to be surfed aggressively, stuffed in tight corners and generally be anywhere around the lip—and especially above it. The unusual wide “chop tail” provides more surface area, which combined with a single-concave bottom provides higher top end speeds—making it ideal for boosting. We don’t fault anyone for doubting the wide tails’ ability to turn well, but our team riders have reported you can lay into carves or cutback with as much force as you can muster. In Noel Salas’ recent rider review on the Surf n Show blog, he said “The NB2 deserves to be called a ‘One Board Quiver. Lastly, our pro team guys like Eithan and Patty G report that for those that like doing airs, this board is perfect for launching and landing with ease—especially if you get it with SPINE-TEK for added pop.


The Rocket Wide has perhaps brought more smiles to peoples’ faces than any other CI model in 2018. Designed with R&D input from the Gudauskas brothers, we set out to make a board that could address small and gutless waves (aka a Groveler). What we didn’t expect was that this small-wave design would have far more range (versatility) than we ever imagined. Both our Pro Team and Noel Salas’s rider review blog Surf n Show were impressed with how well the Rocket Wide paddles and grovels. At the same time it provides high-performance shortboard attributes, unlike many groveler boards that lose maneuverability in exchange for float. The Rocket Wide has become the go-to board for weak surf, but if you rock up and it’s shoulder-to-head high, there’s no need to worry about being on the wrong board. The Rocket Wide features low entry rocker, a wider nose for better paddle power, and wider tail block to skate across flat sections. It’s a shorter, fuller, curvier skate machine designed to lift the fun factor when the waves are not at their best.


All of the boards covered here go really well in the small stuff, but there are some definite points of difference which we’ll summarize here.

When choosing between the Rocket Wide, Neck Beard 2 and Ultra Joe, we always recommend self-evaluating your current surfing ability along with what type of surfing you hope to do. This can help you narrow down the options much easier.

Yadin Nicol – Rocket Wide

If you’re looking to solve your needs for small, gutless waves, and are of good to above average ability—but wanting to still have a high performance characteristic to your surfing—the Rocket Wide is likely the way to go. Although both the Neck Beard 2 and Ultra Joe are considered to be versatile, the Rocket Wide gets the nod by the majority of our customers for less than stellar type of conditions due to excellent paddling and trim speed in the super mushy stuff, while maintaining a “shortboard” feel to your surfing.

Tanner Gudauskas – Neck Beard 2

The Neck Beard 2 performs great in small surf but leans even a tad more toward performance side of things—and a notable difference to the Rocket Wide would be that it favors those looking to take to the air more. Additionally, if considering the Neck Beard 2, you are likely a good to very good surfer looking for a more aggressive, high-performance board in average or below average conditions. It’s worth noting that both the Rocket Wide and Neck Beard 2 are not limiting if you show up and the waves are a bit better than you expected. While you may wish you had your high performance Fever or Happy with you for those bigger/better days, both will work unreal in the good stuff, too.

Bobby Martinez – Ultra Joe

What really sets the Ultra Joe apart from Rocket Wide and Neck Beard 2 is that it’s geared to be a progressive step forward for beginner/intermediate surfer. But it’s important to note that it’s still a very inviting step down for average to good surfers seeking something fun and cruisy on the smaller, weaker days. That said, if you are not someone that is looking for a typical, high performance shortboard feel we’d definitely recommend Ultra Joe for you over the Rocket Wide and Neck Beard 2.

As always, please contact us directly with any questions via or try our live chat which has a few of the most frothy, surf stoked people you’ll come across that know just about everything “surfboards” and would be happy to help point you in the right direction.

  • 04.16.2021