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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Haydenshapes Grom board $595

By Jon Coen

GSI Shred Sled
Julia: "It just felt comfortable -- carrying it, paddling out, and riding waves."

I recently had the opportunity to review some Global Surf Industries. And do they ever have some products. From the finless fiberglass "Albacore" to the McTavish "Carver," or the 14-foot Coco Matt SUP Race Board, they really have anything a waterman could want whether it's your first season in the waves or you were out cruising bowls during the Kennedy Administration.

But then I thought, "why would you want to hear me write about one of these boards?" If you're a regular reader of the ESPN Surf Section, you hear enough from me. Besides, who am I to review a surfboard? I've spent years putting together what I feel to be the perfect quiver for my local beach and travels only to have certain days that I look like a three-toed tree sloth with a trick knee dodging the barrel.

So instead, I decided to grab the multi-faceted Shred Sled from Haydenshapes. But I had them send me the Grom version. Then I dumped it off in my nephew's neighborhood and told the kids to go nuts. As the folks at GSI say, "Life is better when you surrf."

Right on, brother.

GSI Shred Sled
Max: "It turns better than the board I usually ride. I really liked it"

There was some excitement about having this shiny white thing around a throughout the summer. Never before has deck pad placement been such a debate. And everyone had hand in waxing it. Then between mid-June and that fateful day when everyone went back to school, a bunch of the kids took it out and put it through the paces.

Summertime is pretty fun for a grom. It's pretty much all milkshakes, sand crabs, Angry Birds, and waves. And when you're eight years old, you're not too particular about the quality of the waves "Good to epic," is when all your friends are out and you get ice cream afterwards. So, it's a good everyday stick for the kids.

GSI Shred Sled
Amelia: "I just thought it paddles really well."

This board is essentially a performance wave getter for squirts, a scaled down version of Hayden's shred sled, ideally for a surfer under 110 pounds. It borrows a lot of the aspects of the modern fish. There's very little rocker up front and plenty of extra width in the nose, because let's face it, catching more waves is a lot more fun. But it's definitely not a soft-top slug. This thing is made for a grom to progress on -- that bumped wing near the tail makes for high performance turns and allows a straighter outline near the hips. And according to Hayden, it can be ridden in surf up to four-foot. (Or as the kids call it, "way overhead.") This board is single to double concave and only comes in a thruster, so the grom will learn the fundamentals. Guess you get them started early and they won't develop that flicky style.

And as far as the construction aspects, the foam is traditional poly but it's wrapped in epoxy. GSI puts their name behind the durability of all their boards. The Grom board comes in a 5'0, 5'2 and a 5'4. You can check the overall volume for each on the site. All boards are milled by the CNC machine and then laminated by human hands. $595 may seem pricey for kid's board, but after a summer of being ridden, borrowed, left in the sun, used as skimboard, and passed around like the chicken pox, it still pretty much looks new.

GSI Shred Sled
Ryan: "Fun board. Can we go get pizza now?"

You can pick up the Shred Sled, grown-up model or Grom at larger GSI dealers or order direct online.

So, at the end of the summer I gathered the kids together and took some notes. Getting groms to expand upon their experience with the board was like pulling teeth, but they lose teeth on the regular anyway. Eventully I got some feedback.

And then we got pizza.