Anyone who knows me as a surfer knows my affinity for single fin surf crafts. I've been riding them my entire surfing life, going back to my very first surfboard, a 7'1 pintail made by Santa Cruz shaper Tom Overlin. I bought that board for $15 from a neighbor who had it on the side of his yard with weeds growing out of it. It was made in the 70's and it had been abused quite a bit. I rode countless waves on this surfboard at Dania Beach in Broward County, FL.
Fast-forwarding to the early 2000's, I'd been riding Escape Surfboards for a while, out of Melbourne Beach, FL, shaped by my landlord at the time, Gee Rainbow. While he primarily made me high-performance thrusters, he also made me an experimental 6'4 single fin with full nose and and a winged pintail. It was all-blue with no logos. I named it the "smurfboard" for obvious reasons. It was never intended to be my everyday board, but there was a time it was in fact the first choice no matter what the wave conditions. It's been on more surf trips than most surfers I know. These days I still take the smurfer out for a glide once in a while. It's a great loaner board, and people love riding it.
So it had been a minute since I'd purchased a new single fin under 9'0. I'd been riding my 9'2 single fin high performance longboard a lot since moving to the Northeast... and I just felt the urge to add to my single fin quiver. I'd also been riding a lot of mid-size boards in my 40's, so I thought the two would be a good combo. I researched online and landed on the Christenson Flat Tracker. But I'd been wanting to tryout a local New England shaper from the Cape, Shawn Vecchione, and after contacting him he said he could make me what I was looking for.
I originally ordered a mid-size board in the 7'6 range that would work in all conditions... the type of board that if you were stranded on a desert island, you could use for everything. One specification I told Vec was that I wasn't looking for a funshape. My reasoning was that I didn't want a big round nose that hindered duck-diving, and I wanted some curve in the rocker to add some performance. I asked to keep the overall volume on the skinny side, but I wanted heavy glass so it would cruise really nice in the winter time on bigger swell. I figured a rounded tail would work the best for hold and drawing confident lines on larger winter surf.
Vec said he understood and 2 months later, it was time to pick up my new stick. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed in my initial reaction. He called it a funshape when he handed it to me and I cringed just a little bit. The big nose and flat rocker did not look like what I had asked for. I really wasn't sure if the board was going to work in top-to-bottom type surfing conditions. But I took it without complaint deciding to reserve my judgment until after riding it.
If I'm a little salty about shapers listening to what I want, it's only because of years of frustration going back to my grom years. Gee Rainbow used to completely disregard my dimension requests, usually making me something that resembled what I ordered, but with his tweaks and angles. So my first impression of my new Vec board was that it wasn't performance-based, but rather learner-based. So I was eager to get it in the water to confirm my suspicions... and boy was I wrong. This board was a dream.
While it isn't winter quite yet, I have rode it in some decent surf and it has performed well. It's ridden knee high summer waves on the Cape, fun hurricane swell on South Coast, gigantic death pits at Witches Rock, and sizable north swell in Nantasket. I think I've given it the full range of wave conditions, but without the joy yet of riding it in a thick wetsuit, hood, and boots. I also tried out a few different fin sizes and shapes and I think I've got that nailed down as well. Right now, I'm just going to leave in my 8 inch FCS Connect until I have a reason to take it out.
The Vec Singlecut paddled nicely and I scratched into waves without a ton of effort. It surfs pretty freely and I have no issues moving it around. Surprisingly the nose on this 7'6 never gets in the way when making bottom turns or cutbacks. It also feel really good off the top of a wave making arching turns on the face pretty easily and in a tighter than expected radius. I honestly felt like I was on a 6'6, not a 7'6. The board was most comfortable in the pocket and it didn't feel too sluggish or too fast racing sections... it kinda felt just right. A few pumps and I'm out on the shoulder setting up for a turn, the rails and tail worked nicely together releasing energy smoothly and transitioning rail to rail with ease. Conversely, I didn't enjoy the extra push needed to duck-dive the singlecut. That wide nose wasn't doing me any favors when I got caught inside taking sets on the head. But overall, I didn't have much trouble managing the 7'6, even when conditions were overhead.
Where this board struggles is the small stuff. I've ridden it in marginally knee high surf expecting to get into waves a little early and create some momentum down the line... only to miss wave after wave. The singlecut just doesn't have a lot of pick up and go in gutless waves. That's why I think it finds the pocket so easy when conditions are bigger, it just manages speed so well and the tail grips the wave like a brake pedal. I did try putting in a really small fin to see if I could reduce drag. Didn't change much. And while we're talking fins, let me mention that I tried a 9 inch flex fin with a lot of rake, a 7 inch FCS Kai Salas performance fin with more pivot, and a pretty standard 8 inch FCS Connect fin. While they all worked fairly well, I found the 8 inch Connect to be the best balance between drive and hold. I didn't feel any benefit from having the 9 inch flex in there, it was just a bit much, and had too much hold.
So while my 7'6 Singlecut resembles a funshape, it actually performs the opposite and I'm looking forward to taking it out at some New Hampshire points this winter when it gets big. It's my goal to post a SoloShot video session on the Singlecut this winter... so stay tuned for that. But Vec shaped me a solid single fin surfboard. The craftsmanship is top-notch with a premium glass job. This stick should last the better part of a decade, probably more. You can check out all of Vec's shapes on his website, with a bunch of models to choose from www.vecsurfboards.com.