This is a unsolicited review of our shop written by a great customer, Ronnie Simpson:
About a year ago, I acquired my first standup paddle board in trade for a small egg-shaped surfboard that I rarely rode. The SUP was a 9'8" 7S-brand epoxy board with a big swallow tail, a lot of volume and virtually no rocker. Originally conceived as a way for me to get from my sailboat to shore in San Francisco Bay and for use on small wave days, the board has served me well over the past year and has ignited a passion for SUP'ing that burns greatly. One year later I live in Hawaii, surf that SUP more than all of my other surfboards combined and have even taken to racing downwind SUPs. As the waves got bigger throughout the summer here on the south shore of Oahu and my SUP skills increased however, I found myself wanting to add another surf SUP to the quiver.
During a recent week of swell where I surfed every day, I thought about how my next surf SUP should differ from my current one, and I came to two conclusions; it needed to be about a foot shorter and have more rocker in the nose than my current board. Beyond that, I was open to suggestion. Having purchased three 14' downwind race boards this year from Blue Planet surf shop and generally being a very happy customer, it was a no-brainer for me to head into the shop and see what they could do for me. With boards for days - new, used and consignment - in a range of shapes and sizes, I consulted with their friendly French sales associate Soliman and narrowed my search down to about a half dozen different models, all between 8'0" and 8'10" long.
One of the larger boards that I wanted to demo was already rented out, so I grabbed the most voluminous 8'0" that was on the rack and headed down the street to surf the Marine Land break on a dying swell. At 8'0" x 31 x 3.75 inches, and with 115 Liters of volume, the Taro Chip model impressed me from the get-go. Even in small, gutless surf the Taro Chip was able to accelerate quickly and get into a ton of waves and continue surfing even as the wave mushed out. With a relatively flat rocker profile, full wide nose and squash tail, the Taro Chip proved to be very stable and alleviate my fears of purchasing a board on the shorter end of the size spectrum that I was exploring. After three great sessions over the course of two days, I nearly bought the board outright but figured I owed it to myself to try something else on for size.
As a modest new south swell began to show up during the following week, I walked back into the shop with hopes of renting one of the larger boards that were on my list of boards to try. Once again, the board that I wanted to try was already rented out so I opted to try my hand at the 8'0" Ghetto Blaster model. At 8'0" x 30 x 4 inches, and with 109 Liters of volume, the Ghetto Blaster was the least voluminous model that I was considering purchasing, and so trying it out on a small day offered some merit. With more rocker than the Taro Chip, a pointed nose and a round tail, the Ghetto Blaster was a more traditional 'high-performance' shape than the board that I had just ridden. While the board initially frustrated me with a lack of stability and wave catching ability when compared with the Taro Chip, I was able to catch a few waves during my first session that allowed me to sneak a quick glimpse at the board's high-performance capabilities. With a bit of practice, I found that I could still catch small and mushy waves, yet drop in late and aggressively when necessary; and when the waves got larger, faster and more powerful.
I'm more challenged at this point in time by the Ghetto Blaster than the Taro Chip, but then again, when stepping down 20 inches in board length, that's a big part of the appeal. The Taro Chip on the other hand was easy to ride, a bona fide wave catcher, could support my 170 pounds on the nose if needed and was plenty fast down the line. Neither board had any glaring deficiencies, and either of them would have made me plenty happy. They both also proved to me that I didn't need to go any bigger than 8'0" for my second surf SUP. In the end however, I only had money and space for one of them, and I chose the Ghetto Blaster. As an older model, I could save a few more bucks, it's carbon construction made it a bit lighter for those long walks to the beach, it's blue and brushed carbon paint job looked ultra-sexy, but most of all, it's more high-performance shape has me convinced that i'll be able to ride it on more challenging waves once I step up my game.
As a surfer and a consumer, the most enjoyable and satisfying part of the whole process was being able to try out multiple boards for basically no cost and then purchase exactly what I wanted. Merely paying for two SUP rental fees and then applying those rental fees towards the purchase of a new board, I more than justified what has become my dilemma when purchasing a new SUP: Craigslist or Blue Planet. Being able to walk into the shop and work with a friendly and knowledgeable staff, speak directly to the shop owner and designer of my new board and then actually go try the board out in good waves is absolutely invaluable and a big part of the reason that i'll choose to support a good local shop like Blue Planet every time. Mahalo.
Thank you Ronnie for the great review of our shop and boards, and for the cool photos, below Ronnie is surfing his Ghetto Blaster model.