Photos: Alex Befekadu, Chris Kimball
With sunshine and fun, two-to-three foot waves on their side, San Diego surfers hit the campgrounds in Cardiff this weekend to test drive some of the newest gear from the biggest brands in the industry. Camp Shred had an epic inaugural kick off Saturday and Sunday, as crowds of around 3,000 people turned out en masse along the winding pathways through San Elijo Campground over the course of two days, for a chance to interact one on one with their favorite surfboard and skateboard manufacturers.
TransWorld SURF and SurfRide teamed up this year on the event, which gave the industry a chance to hang out, surf, and camp out with friends and family, all while showing off their latest boards, wetsuits, and other surf related gear to local surfers, who were stoked on the opportunity that landed in their backyard last weekend.
The event holds a lot of value for Surf Tech, one of the many board brands that were on the scene bright and early with a slew of brand new shred sticks— including the Carl Ekström Asymmetric board, which was generating quite the buz from passers by. We had a chance to catch up with So Cal Sales Rep Robert Hyland, who was camping out Saturday in order to take full advantage of the event. Surf Tech has participated in Surf Ride’s Demo Days events in the past, and finds it a useful gauge in measuring customer interest in particular boards, says Hyland.
“It’s nice to get that feedback,” says Hyland. “John, our buyer, keeps sheets on every board that goes out, so we can see the details on which boards are getting the most traction. Now to have TransWorld involved it just raises the awareness around the event and gets a broader audience involved. Being able to come down, get set up ahead of time and camp has been great, so we are stoked on it.”
From a retail perspective, the event serves multiple functions, all of which benefit the industry as a whole, says Surf Ride Marketing Manager Taylor Stahl.
“Yes, we have clothes, shoes, and all that other stuff but the heart of our business is in the surfboards and hardgoods that make the sport what it is,” Stahl says. “Demos are a way that we can interact with customers at the beach and it's a chance to show them that we stand behind the product that we carry so much, that we want them to try it before they buy it. It's also the perfect opportunity for brands, who don't have much personal interaction with consumers normally, to connect with consumers in the setting where surfing actually takes place.”
With San Diego, and especially North County, being one of the major Southern California surf hubs, heavy hitters from across the surf industry made their way out to get some sunshine, waves, and leisurely networking time in. Sanuk Founder Jeff Kelley was spotted cruising by tents on his motorcycle on Saturday and Sector 9 Co-founder Steve Lake was on the scene with the entire Sector 9 crew, rounding out just a few of the many familiar faces we saw Saturday and Sunday at the campgrounds.
TransWorld SURF would like to thank Camp Shred sponsors Surf Ride, Pacifico, Hoodie Buddy, California State Parks, FM 94.9, Subaru, Mizu, House of Marley, Keep A Breast, and all of the vendors that participated. A portion of the proceeds benefit our beloved California State Parks system.
TransWorld SURF also had the chance to put together a wetsuit and board gear guide based on what they saw this weekend —take a virtual walk through of what we were stoked on by clicking through to the next few pages.
5'4" JS "Pier Pony"
Right off the bat I thought it'd tough to ride such a short board in the mushy little waves on offer Sunday. Boy was I wrong. The Pier Pony has a nice wide nose that allows you to paddle really good for such a short board. Once I was up and riding the thing had some squirt, too. It really projected through sections and made the gutless surf fun. If you don't want to Longboard on small days this is a great addition to your quiver.—Justin Coté
5'6" Firewire/Tomo Surfboards Collab
Every person I talked to who rode one of these odd looking boards from Tomo was raving—but I didn't feel the same stoke. My foot kept falling off the back of it, and I wasn't used to a board being so narrow. I think the small, mushy waves I surfed it in were the opposite conditions it was created for—it felt like it would go great at a hollow beachbreak where the narrow outline would fit into the curve of the wave. I gotta take this bad boy for a spin on a different day to get the Stu Kennedy vibe going. — JC
Channel Islands Weirdo Ripper 5'6" x 19" x 2 ¼"
With near flat waves and fog on the weekend forecast, I arrived to Camp Shred midday Saturday with the essentials for everything except for surf, i.e. a tent and beer. But lo-and-behold, contrary to what the Internet said, the weather was beautiful and the waves actually fun—a perfect weekend for the first annual hybrid tradeshow/demo on the sand. After a few Pacifico's I decided to partake in the shredding, and grabbed a nice new comfy 4/3 West Wetsuit and a 5'6" Channel Islands Weirdo Ripper designed by Yadin Nicol, and joined the masses in the chest high, glassy Cardiff campgrounds surf. There was certainly a hefty crowd of novice level surfers out there, but the vibes were high and the board perfect for the soft conditions. I'm convinced you rarely need an actual "shortboard" in North County, San Diego, and this board proved my point, turning an otherwise gutless day of groveling into something really fun.—Zander Morton
Camp Shred was the perfect medium for surfboard and wetsuit brands to get people in and on top of their gear, but another big hit over the weekend was the SOLOSHOT "automatic cameraman." Simply attach the SOLOSHOT to a tripod and camera, sync it up with the included waterproof wristband and it'll follow you around all day, filming every second of your surf. I watched the contraption, left to its own devices, document quite a few folks' sessions, and most every surfer was thrilled with the results.—ZM
JS Rock-N-Roll 5'6" x 19 1/2" 2 3/8" volume 26.4 L
Super fun board, nice and thick in the middle and paddled great, while the rails were full but trimmed down just enough to do some high performance type turns. The main thing that struck me was how incredibly squirty the thing was through flat sections, it was a trip. Felt like the perfect balance between generating tons of speed in small (1–3 foot), gutless surf, while also feeling like you could rip a nice solid turn on it, too.—Casey Koteen
Hayden Shapes Hypto Krypto 5'4" x 19 1/2" x 2 3/8"
I went up to the Hayden booth to try a board, and as luck would have it, Hayden himself was just walking up after a surf. He ended up graciously lending me his board to try, a 5'4" pintailed beauty. It's a thruster, with a wide nose, and a slightly pulled in tail. The thing paddled and caught waves really well. It shot off the bottom, and generated plenty of speed even in the ultra gutless 1–2 foot slop. I'd like to tell you it went off the top well, too, but there just wasn't any "top" to hit on the peak I was sitting at. I will say that a lot of small wave boards tend to top out in chest high or bigger surf, but this board felt like it was more versatile, and could handle plenty of juice, as well. Given some of the vids I've seen of Craig Anderson riding it in large, grinding surf, it seems well capable. It seems like a great multi-talented board, I'd definitely like to have some more time on it.—CK
Firewire Dominator FST 5'4" x 19 1/4" x 2 1/4" Volume: 25.7 L
I rode the Dominator as a three fin, although it can be ridden as a quad too. The surf was 2–3 foot, windswell peaks, and the Dominator made short work of it. I dug this board, it zipped through mushy flat sections as you'd expect, but also pivoted really well when a steeper section popped up. It felt skatey and fast, easy to put on rail and off the top like a shortboard. It's no wonder this thing is one of Firewire's best sellers.—CK
Hydro Flex …Lost Black Sheep 5'4" x 18.74 x 2.13"
The Black Sheep is a fast board, super light, good for small waves, and easy to stay in the pocket on. It's a hybrid of the …Lost Sub Scorcher and Rocket that features a wide swallowtail and nose and not a lot of rocker—the perfect blend to create a small wave shred machine.—Pedro Fernandez
Body Glove CT Slant Zip 3/2 Fullsuit
I have a Body Glove CT 2/2 fullsuit that's a few years old, and I dig it, so it was cool to try out an updated model. It's made entirely of Magna Flex neoprene, which is super stretchy and comfortable. It's got minimal seam taping/gluing on the inside, which makes for an incredibly flexible suit. It's a great suit for shorter surfs in the winter when you want maximum flexibility, and an awesome in between seasons suit when the water warms up but isn't quite springsuit temp yet. If you're wanting a suit that's ultra toasty in the depths of winter, Body Glove's Vapor or the Prime are great options. If you after a super stretchy suit at a great price ($200 for the 3/2), the CT is a solid call.—CK
West Wetsuits, Lotus 4/3mm fullsuit chest zip
I thought this suit was a 3/2, wore it for an hour (in 59 degree water), was stoked on it, then came in and after peeling it off noticed it was actually a 4/3. That says a lot, because most 4/3s I've worn you'd never mistake for a 3/2. It was really flexible, and as you'd expect from West's top end suit, very toasty. And though I'm more a fan of back zips over chest zips, this one was easy to get in and out of, and felt good all around.—CK
i-Elite from Isurus Wetsuits
Rufino from Isurus was a bit under the weather so I didn't get too close to him, but I tried one of their wetties and the things are sick. What makes their suits stand out from the pack is a unique set of "racing stripes" that have been proven to make you paddle just a bit faster, and think about it, how many times have you missed a wave by a hair? As well, the Yamamoto rubber is insane and of the highest quality. And stay tuned, apparently their new line (Fall 2013) is even better than the current one.
O'Neill Psychofreak 3.5/2.5mm fullsuit
The Psychofreak is at the top of O'Neill's line, and it shows. It's got all the bells and whistles, including Technobutter neoprene, which is super flexible, light, and very warm. The water was 59-degrees and I was nice and toasty, no surprise there. But I think this suit could handle a whole lot colder conditions, like most days in San Francisco, where I lived the past two years, where water temps average about 52. Overall this was a very warm, super flexible.—CK