T9, Optimist & Karma: D33 "El Nino" picks for the intermediate/ advanced rider

October 13, 2015

In our last blog we laid out detailed suggestions on what to ride if you still consider yourself a new(ish) surfer as we dive head first into a fun-filled "El Nino" season and/or year. Around these parts we've got plenty of push still coming in off the horizon, with no signs of stopping. SoCal's next bump fills in mid-next week. That said, let's get into our favorites for you more seasoned surfers... you know... those of you that can honestly answer the age old cheeky question with "Yeah.. I surf."

For those of you that have started to develop your own "style" in your surfing abilities, this blog is for you, better yet, these boards are for you. Without further ado, let us introduce, once again, our D33 winter picks... the T9, Optimist, and Karma Chameleon.


The T9: D33 Work Horse Daily Driver.

We can't even keep these in stock in our showroom, that's how popular they are, and for good reason! Brandon and I created this board after our standard shortboards proved to be more a hinderance than a bucket of fun. The problem was that they were too specialized and only really got waxed up above 3ft. We wanted a board that fit tighter pocket, had better float and had heaps of drive. We wanted all that, in a board that could produce in 3-8ft.

Enter the T9.

The curves on this board wreak the words "f'ing versatile." Excuse my 'merican. The template echos the current trend of added width all the way through, a touch thicker too. We kept the nose rocker relaxed but pushed it slightly forward so the middle of the board has a flatter planning section. The tail has moderate kick which is pronounced by the Vee flattening out from the rear quads to the tail block. All in all, you've got curve where you need it, when you're dropping in on a nugget, and when you're cranking sky-ward off the back foot. The flatter mid section will send you down the line like a rocket ship. Being a wider board, we went single to double with Vee to give the rider a rail to rail transition that  takes zero effort! The width in the tail is pulled in to a double bump squash so you're not sliding sideways when you should be swooping into your bottom turn-check turn-barrel stall.

This is the most popular shortboard in our lineup by leaps and bounds. We pretty much took the Jack and refined it for a more aggressive approach. The tri-quad versatility gives you a whole new board from one setup to the other! Go quad for quicker acceleration and more arc in your turns. Go tri fin for more precise pivot and top-end speed.

Sizing: Ride this board 2-4 inches shorter, 1/2-1 inch wider, and 1/8 inch thicker than your stock shortboard. For average build surfers, ride 2-3 inches shorter than you are tall. For stockier riders, surf the T9 at your height.

T9 sample sizing:

David Santiago = 5'10 175lbs - 5'8 x 19 1/2 x 2 1/2 = advanced rider

Rob = 6ft 180lbs - 5'11 x 19 3/4 x 2 1/2 = inter/adv rider

Me = 5'11 205lbs - 6'0 x 20 x 2 5/8 = inter/adv rider


The Optimist: D33 Modern Shortboard

Team Rider, Anton Anderson, is no slouch in the lineup, and requires no slouching in his boards as well. When it comes to 4-6ft, this is what the fellas on the world tour are riding. Sleek, precise, no bells and whistles needed. Anton is what we call a snappy, quick twitch surfer. At 6ft 98lbs soaking wet (ok he's like 160 after a Cali burrito.. garden style) he's light, flexible, and both efficient and effective with his lanky strength. That's also what he craves in a board.  So we know who it's made for, let's talk about the wave he built it for.

The inception of the Optimist landed on the back end of one of the best swells we've ever seen in San Diego. In my lifetime anyways. Anton had just snapped his first Optimist on a massive day at Blacks and absolutely needed it replicated ASAP. There you have it, the Optimist is built for fast, steep, hollow beach break waves that hold a lot of ground swell. If the vertical attack and air game are your bread and butter, this is the shape for you, and hey, throw in some good old fashioned wrap-arounds in there for good measure.

Let's break down the shape. Moderate single concave throughout; that funnels aaaall the water down the center and feeds it to the fins for pinpoint precision. Depending on the size you have built, the 12-12.5 inch nose is a new standard for modern shortboards. That's more foam under your chest so you don't have to ride a longer board when the waves start stacking. The rails are lightly tapered yet kept nice and round for a locked-in rail feel with some forgiveness on a bobble. Carbon hits cover the thruster boxes of the round tail so that you can stomp that air-three. The tri fin cluster keeps up with the tradition of thrusters: drag-free, back foot hair trigger, top end speed. The round tail is wide enough to give you drive in smaller conditions but is truly meant to drop a clean rail line into a massive, nuts-in-your-stomach drop-in. A relaxed but continuous rocker keep the rail curve clean for full-rail turns yet has enough kick to stick that first bottom turn as you line up the green room.

The Optimist is a bare-bones, balls to the wall, hard charging son of a gun. When it's chest high or double overhead, this is the craft of choice.

Sizing: This is considered a modern, SoCal shortboard. A spritz of extra volume dropped under your chest so you don't have to break out that minty Optimist Pryme that's curing for Scorpion Bay in January. For medium-build riders, ride this 1inch shorter to 2 inches taller than your height, 19 inches wide or less, 2 3/8 inches and under. For larger-build surfers, same height to 4 inches taller than you, 19 1/4 inches or less, 2 1/2 inches and under.

Optimist sample sizing:

Anton = 6ft 155lbs - 5'10 x 18 3/4 x 2 3/16 = advanced rider

Rob = 6ft 180lbs - 6'1 x 19 x 2 3/8 = inter/adv rider

Me = 5'11 205lbs - 6'3 19 1/4 x 2 1/2 = inter/adv rider

This is my favorite board in the whole lineup. Rob and I dreamt this up about the same time as Anton's 2nd Optimist. Sometimes swell comes with a lot of tide change which can take a slow grower and quietly turn it into a sketchy air-drop to hand-drag barrel in the course of an hour and a half. We wanted something that could handle that kind of change... and... because we're ridiculous, we wanted a single fin option just to complete the look of a wider-nosed round tail; a homage to the greats, if you will. The final touch was creating something compact, that could wrap a turn into a tight pocket, yet reach out to the flats and carry speed back to a banker off the foam ball.  And so, the Karma was born.

Here's the breakdown. The front end pulls in all the benefits of a fish. The width planes briskly over the flats. The thickness sits you higher in the water on the paddle stroke; relaxed nose rocker allowing you to glide in early on your takeoff. The back end is aaaaall business baby. Rob went with a one-off rounded pin, a straight up barrel hunter with heaps of hold and control. I went more reserved with a medium width round tail closer to the Karma's production tail. The width keeps the speed and planing up to par while the clean tail template holds in on bigger drops and tracks tightly on heal-chattering turns. Medium rails are forgiving yet reliable in full-rail gaffs. The single to double with Vee that worked so well on the T9 carries over to the Karma for easy rail to rail control. Vee to flat creates added flip in the tail rocker for full-tilt bottom to top combos. The quad/round tail pairing, made popular by Kelly Slater in the late 2000s, adds speed to an already precision-oriented tail template. The single fin feels loose and playful in clean, open shouldered, reefy point breaks, with the occasional steep drop to head-dip combo.

The Karma Chameleon is our idea of being as playful as possible in serious conditions. Going longer when it's bigger limits your mobility at high speeds. The control of the template and fin setup turns all that speed into blistering grin-ridden fun on waves you'd normally get butterflies scratching out to.

Sizing: You really get to push the limit on this one. Go as short as you can without dipping into fish lengths. In fact, go 2 inches longer than your fish, add 1/4 inch to your T9 width and match the thickness.

Karma sample sizing:

Bernard = 5'10 175lbs - 5'6 x 19 3/4 x 2 1/2 = advanced rider

Rob = 6ft 180lbs - 5'8 x 20 x 2 1/2 = inter/adv rider

Me = 5'11 205lbs - 5'10 x 20 1/4 x 2 5/8 = inter/adv rider


There it is guys. A melee of awesome boards for the winter and this prolonged SW swell season here in San Diego where El Nino is keeping us in trunks and tucking us into barrels every weekend... lifes a beach... Give us a call and we can get your board ideas down on paper and under your feet. If you see a bunch of awesome ideas that span more than one board, I'd be more than happy to lay down some dims on your dream board. That's what we do best!


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