The Board Review

In the world of custom bodyboards, with world renowned shaper Marc Rossouw in the bay, the possibilities are endless. We have built some incredible boards in the past, however the 'general' wave rider, brings the question of what works best. 

Image by Chris Clarke

We build customs, we believe everybody should be using custom equipment if the opportunity is there. Every professional athlete on this planet, given the opportunity, will be using custom equipment and we like to offer this to our customers. However the stock option is not off the table completely, given the fact that every single stock board we have is hand-shaped by Marc Rossouw, separates the HandPicked board from the rest. As stock boards have never been an option in the past, as we expand, the brand needed to open a few doors in terms of distribution and availability. So we released a stock range which, in turn, resulted in some of the team riders testing the range before release... 

Image by Jordan Masters

The testing took place in Bali at multiple breaks and islands as well as New South Wales, Sydney Australia, Cape Town and Durban South Africa. The destinations were selected based on waves and climate. We wanted to make sure we were testing the boards correctly and covering all our bases. Ostler was not the only person involved in the testing of the boards, we had a few team riders on board the experiment too, Wilder Schultz and Stuart Bradford. They were selected to do the testing to cover body types and wave riding styles... 

The builds were as follows : 

    1. Poly Pro - Single Stringer | Mesh | Channels - Factory Made 
    2. Apex Core - Single Stringer | Mesh | 4 Channels - Hand Shaped 
    3. Apex core - Double Stringer | No Mesh | Graduated Channels - Hand Shaped
    4. Apex Core - Double Stringer | Mesh | 4 Channels - Hand Shaped 
    5. Apex Core - Single Stringer | Mesh | Vice Channels - Hand Shaped

Those were the five boards tested in the process by the three riders. The test was to cover bases such as, Versatility, Recoil, response, speed and projection as well as the overall control of the board.

Ostler " It was a lot to try and get done, doesn't sound like much but trying to test all the boards in the same wave conditions, and treat them all with an open mindset, was pretty difficult. I always tend to find a favourite and hang onto it! "


1 ) Poly Pro - Single Stringer | Mesh | Channels - Factory Made

The price point of this stock board is what makes the board affordable to most and a great board to have in the quiver for the general bodyboarder. When the waves started getting bigger then 3-4ft, the lack of recoil of the Poly Pro was noticeable and the lack of drive down the line a result. The feeling of the board was definitely different to the feeling of a Hand Shaped board. Without informing any riders of the change in manufacturer, it was noticed by them all within the first few seconds of handling. In all this combo is a classic and that must be taken into account. Its where or what we would refer to as a 'basic high end board' As far as a performance board goes, it was well received in the warmer waters of 20 degrees and upward, however anything colder and you could feel the rigidness of a new board and the stiffness of PP was evident. 

In all we gave this board a 6 / 10 


2 ) Apex Core - Single Stringer | Mesh | 4 Channels - Hand Shaped 



This board created the most controversy amongst the testers. Recoil was a 10/10 and the flex and feeling of the APEX the same. The APEX combined with Single Stringer Mesh was a firm favourite in both warm and cold water. As far as longevity goes, the combination wouldn't have the longevity in the warmer waters as the double stringer would but as far as performance is concerned, it was perfect. The channels were a major topic of discussion amongst the testers. The three riders all approach waves differently and this became apparent in the results of this particular build. The rider who enjoyed riding technically and in the pocket of the wave, did not approve of the 4 channel. The rider who liked the speed on hand when needed, enjoyed the channel system, it's feel on the face and down the line. The rider who rides more versatile waves, was very much in the air about his feelings of the 4 channels. So as a result, we concluded that if you are riding waves where speed is a priority, or you like to draw a strong line to the lip or the barrel, the 4 channel would be on point for you. However if you like to hang around that pocket zone and get technical, the 4 channel might not be the best option for you.

In conclusion, we gave this combination a 7.5 / 10 


3 ) Apex core - Double Stringer | No Mesh | Graduated Channels - Hand Shaped



This build was also a little controversial, however the end result a more mutual feeling. The Apex - Double Stringer resulted a firm favourite by all for anything warmer than 20 degrees. The flex in the nose and on the elbows was bang on while the lower half of the board remained firm. Perfect for performance and agility. Anything colder though, worked well on the beaches and slightly more open face wave conditions, however the slabs are where you would feel the stiffness of the double stringer and in turn, the riders began to struggle a little. The channels were very well responded too, all three riders really enjoyed the channels. One of the riders had these channels set as a firm favourite. " The versatility and ability to generate speed, hold a line and still be able to ride the pocket, was everything one could ask for in a bodyboard." Said one of the testers... 

Warm waters this board would be a 9 / 10 however all things considered, this build comes in a solid 8 / 10.


4 ) Apex Core - Double Stringer | Mesh | 4 Channels - Hand Shaped 



This was an interesting build, it had some of the testers favourite elements and some of the least liked elements. The stiffness of the double stringer and mesh combo made the board almost impossible for anything colder than 18 degrees. It was far too stiff for a new board. However in the warmer waters the reaction was good. The build went extremely well in the super warm waters and longer ridden waves. Long drawn out bottom turns with huge walls to work with, the reaction was great. All three riders approved of this but if this is going to be your only board, unless you're living at Padang Padang, the general feeling was that it was too stiff and again, the 4 channels sparked the debate on release and freedom on the face. 

Overall the build was given a 7 / 10


5 ) Apex Core - Single Stringer | Mesh | Vice Channels - Hand Shaped



This was, undoubtably the firm favourite across all platforms. The flex was perfect in all water temps. Recoil was marked as excellent and the vice channels were approved by all. " ... they give you the feeling of the 4 channels, in regards to the speed on hand, however it gives you the ability to ride the pocket too, the release was incredible... " the general feeling was that the Vice had taken bits of the Graduated channels and bits of the 4 channel system and combined them into one. It was very interesting to hear the reviews, three different wave riding styles all felt as if the Vice channels paired with the Apex single Stringer Mesh, complimented their riding. Which is all you an ask for in a bodyboard. As far as longevity is concerned, the combination is as strong a build as you can get, without starting to alter the flex of the board. So if this was the only board you owned and you were deciding to do some traveling riding multiple waves in multiple climates, this would be the build for you... 

A solid 9 / 10 in result. 

Why not a 10? That is simple. No stock board will ever be a 10 / 10 in our opinion. Everybody is built differently, everybody rides differently and everybody expects different from their board. There is no possible way to build a single board that will work for everybody equally. It simply doesn't make sense. 



That wraps up our board review, we hope this helps with your decision in your next board by HandPicked. We thank you for the positive response and appreciate all the support. Remember our boards are available online, just click " Boards " in the menu tab or get onto the Emerald Bodyboard Specialists site or in-store today! 

If there is anything you want to know more about, do not hesitate to contact us! 

A few images of the project : 

Image by Matt Sekla

Ostler POV

Image by Jordan Masters

Image by Matt Sekla

Image by Matt Sekla


Image by Jordan Masters

Image by Matt Sekla

Image by Matt Sekla