After doing a review on the ZealSurf Rocket, I decided that this is the board I want. I’ve had my VanHunks 9’6 for a while now, it’s an older model – 2014 if I recall correctly – and whilst that is a good solid beginner / intermediate SUP Surf board I felt I wanted a more progressive board. The aim is to take my surfing up a notch.
I’ve always been impressed by the quality and finishing of the other ZealSurf boards I’ve seen eg. the Easy Glider and APEX range so that was naturally the way to go. I spoke to Ian and we started discussing my requirements on the Rocket, the main issue was the volume. I weigh around 88kg (on a good month) and in my mind that would equate to a volume requirement of around 170L. However, Ian didn’t agree – he reconed a board with a volume of around 150L would be more than adequate. After much discussion I finally decided to trust Ian on this, after all he is the expert.
We agreed on a board with the following specs: Carbon Tech 8’6 x 31 x 4.7 – 150Liters. This would allow for enough stability and volume but also leave room for (surfing) growth with the board. I was extremely excited once the specs were settled and he started with shaping process.
About 2 weeks later I had the board in my grubby hands, what a beauty! I was literately blown away by how cool this board looked. The colours added to the sleek design and I couldn’t believe how light it was. I could literally pick it up and hold it above my head with one hand! Now… and I have to confess here – when I compared the weight of the Rocket to the weight of my other boards, I started to have some doubts about the volume of this board and whether it will actually be able to float me. I’ve been on boards before where I was ‘under volumed’ as such and that just ruins everything for me, there is nothing that frustrates me as much as struggling on a board – especially in optimum conditions. (*Side note: The Rocket weighs 7kg)
But I had to wait 2 whole days before I could find out tho, had the persistent SE winds to thank for that.
Luckily on a bright Sunday morning the wind subsided enough and I had the chance to do a maiden run with her, conditions were glassy but flat. I decided to take her out never the less just to get an idea of the feel of her underfoot. I suited up and headed for the water, still with the burning question in my mind of whether the volume was enough.
Once I was in about knee deep in the water I pushed my up onto the board tentatively and got to my knees. Whew, she held my weight nicely and felt stable enough, still on my knees I paddled forward through some weak shore breakers and with every stroke the smile on my face got bigger and bigger! Once I got to the ‘back line’ I got to my feet, my fear over the volume was unnecessary – I was standing with ease and she was floating nicely and the stability was great. Paddling around I was super impressed by how smooth everything felt, the board was sensitive to the paddle strokes and by shifting my weight slightly I could easily drop a rail for a change of direction.
As mentioned it was flat but I had to try and paddle for a couple of the half footers that were coming thru. These little ‘waves’ had no energy and closeout in a second, yet I managed to catch a couple (checkout my youtube channel for some footage) and although it by no means did justice to what the Rocket would be capable of – I still had fun. The other guys in the line up all comment on how good the board looked and when I told them it was a local product and the cost was only around R19,500 – it certainly raised their eyebrows.
About a week later I was in Mossel Bay for a quick visit and managed a surf or 2 at Diaz Beach, conditions were fair with about a 1-2ft swell (…beggars can’t be choosers). The Rocket did not disappoint – it paddled into waves with ease and was stable underfoot. On a couple of the bigger sets I could actually feel the drive of the board as you pick up speed down the line and managed to pull off some nice cutbacks. I also figured out that this is a board that wants to be surfed, it requires you to use your feet and move around it. Admittedly I think I still have a fair way to go in terms of being able to say that I have mastered the board but I look forward to the journey….
My initial feelings on the board:
>It is worth every cent.
>It’s a well made, expertly finished, quality board.
>It’s easy enough to paddle and catch waves with yet there will be a definite learning curve for me to tap into it’s full potential.
As I go along I will post more of my thoughts & experiences on the Rocket, the idea is to be able to look back at these initial blog post and youtube videos and use it as a kind of measurement tool i.e this is when I started vs where I am now……