When awesome technologies intersect the sum can be even greater than the parts. Such is the case with the Channel Islands Wood Biscuit, a cutting-edge board design crossed with old-school materials. It's beautiful, it's functional and I need it.
Grain Surfboards is a small company in Maine, US, and the boards they make are almost entirely composed of locally grown/milled northern white cedar, which has excellent flexibility and strength-to-weight ratio. They accent it with western red cedar as well, which makes for a final product that's absolutely gorgeous. The boards look rustic yet modern, but forget form — let's talk function.
While the Channel Islands Wood Biscuit is slightly heavier than modern fibreglass boards, once you're in the water that weight translates into momentum. These things absolutely scream down the line. Wood is also vastly superior for cutting through wind-chop, giving you a much smoother ride on less than perfect days (which is most days). At the same time, these aren't the super-heavy, solid-wood Hawaiian boards of old. That's because inside the board is an intricate frame that looks not unlike a ribcage or the wing of a model aeroplane. That gives you the awesome characteristics of a wood board, while keeping them to just 15 per cent heavier than their foam counterparts, which is a serious feat of engineering.
On the design side, while Grain creates many of their own shapes, the Biscuit is an exact copy of Channel Islands' board of the same name, except it's wood. CI's original was voted SIMA board of the year for 2008. It was designed by legendary shaper Al Merrick with legendary surfer Rob Machado.
Basically, it's a wave magnet.
It's a short, wide, high-volume board that's designed to catch waves like something way bigger — and it does just that. I got to demo one, and was able to take off as deep as the guys on long-boards (and I'm not that good a surfer). It's made for 30cm to head-high waves, and it's incredible how much speed they can generate. I imagine the wood version would be even faster. Super-modern board-design meets legacy materials meets an artist's aesthetic. So nice.
Yes, we've covered (insanely expensive) wooden surfboards before, but this one costs about 1/200th of that and it's designed to be ridden, not locked in a museum. You can get your own custom built Biscuit from Grain for $US2350, which is a lot for a shortboard, but isn't bad for what it is. Or, if you're exceptionally handy, you can buy a kit from them for just $US800 and build it yourself. There's no way I wouldn't screw that up, so I'm going to need someone to either buy it for me or build it for me. Any volunteers? [Grain Surfboards]
PS. If you're into bodyboarding, check out Grain's Leif, which looks awesome.