Channel Islands Fred Rubble - Surfboard Review

Al Merrick’s Channel Island Surfboards has proven to be more than simply an historic Santa Barbara, California institution but rather a modern force of financial nature in the surfboard industry. Since Tom Curren rose to eminence with a CI under his feet and then Kelly Slater established total dominance on his Merrick designs (as well as his own), Channel Islands has been the go-to board maker for surfers all around the world.

Now owned by Burton in the age of shaping software and mass-produced board models (and holding new names like Dane Reynolds on its team), CI has established itself as a dominant force alongside Firewire in global sales. In fact, the Dane Reynolds signature series Dumpster Diver model broke all records for surfboard sales in 2012. This was followed by the equally popular Neck Beard.

Channel Islands has done it again with the Conner Coffin Fred Rubble series which has outsold the nearest surfboard model two-fold. The board has been on the market for quite a while and has gotten mostly positive reviews but with a price tag from $600 upwards to $700, many surfers are hesitant to charge into the local shop and grab one without some practical information. I recently got a chance to ride a Fred Rubble for a few sessions and am about to drop some knowledge to help you decide if it will be your next board.

After all, global sales and clever marketing don’t mean the board will rip.

First of all, check out what the Channel Islands site has to say about the Fred Rubble model:

"Designed for “front-footed” surfers, the newly designed and released Fred Rubble Model from Channel Islands looks fun as hell. What’s a “front-footed” surfer you ask?

The term refers to those who tend to lean forward onto their front foot as opposed to favoring and turning off your back foot. To compensate for the added weight and pressure the surfer puts on their front foot, the board is shaped with a bit more width up front and sometimes with the wide point of the board moved up an inch or so.

Conner Coffin says, “The Fred Rubble is actually quite a bit different than my other boards. It has a lower entry rocker and a wider outline. It has more volume than a Proton, but it isn’t really short and chunky like a Dumpster Diver. It’s just a fun board for waves from waist high to a little over head. I’ve been riding mine two inches shorter than my standard short board and 1/4 inch wider. For example, my standard short board is a 5’11″ x 18 3/8″ x 2 3/16″ Proton and I ride my Fred Rubble as a 5’9″ x 18 5/8″ x 2 3/16.″

The Fred Rubble Review

Sadly for our beloved backyard shapers, the big dogs have found the formula for a mass produced product that rips. I enjoyed the first wave I rode on the Rubble without much need for acclimating. There isn’t much that is strange or unique about the Rubble. It just feels good on a wave. It’s fast and loose. Where the Dumpster Diver has that fat box grovel vibe, the Rubble strikes no surprise.

The one I rode was a 6 footer, 19 1/8” wide, and 2 3/8” thick which is a bit smaller than my standard 6’3” model, but the float was solid as was the paddle.

The Rubble caught waves easily in the mushy chest high slop, but I could feel that the board could work in much larger surf. I don’t know what Coffin is talking about concerning the whole “front foot” thing especially since any surfer worth his salt should be surfing BOTH feet. For me, the board worked well in the pocket and in the flats but didn’t have that corky grovel quality of a fish or a Dumpster Diver. For the most part, it’s just a solid high performance short board.

So What Makes it Unique?

The Fred Rubble is a bit fatter and wider a little farther up the board than most models. This high wide-point gives it an interesting feel. The pivot point is further up, so you can control the release of the tail (a wide squash which makes for loose turns and loads of options on the face).

Maybe this upper wide point is the reason for the “front foot” comment.

You can utilize front foot weight to effectively lift the tail a bit and release off the top in small waves.

There is a subtle concave to a vee at the tail, but I can’t make any discernible statement on its effect on my particular sessions. The construction is not unique. In fact, fiberglass and polyurethane with three fins is about as traditional as you’ll find.

But I won’t lie. The Fred Rubble ripped and made for a very fun session from the first wave to the last. Kelly Slater takes a couple when he goes to Tahiti. I don’t know if it would be my Teahupoo model, but I am not Slater. For me, the board will work for surfers who are looking for high performance maneuvers in small to medium sized waves. Go Rip!