Original 54 Beater

The Original 54 Beater Soft Board (shown here in its splendor) speaks volumes with its quirky yet functional design. CatchSurf.com

Billed as a”blackball beater,” the old Original 54 soft surfboard is a 54 inch dynamo. It looks like a stretched out body board and surfs like psycho little mini-fish. With a masterful ad campaign that saturated pages and websites with wacky verbiage and images and videos of this innovative hybrid ripping in funky, shifty shorebreak, the Original 54 Beater floats, spins and slides and grabs waves easily. At 2.5 inches thick and 20 inches wide and constructed of soft bodyboard foam with slick hard bottom, the Original 54 conforms to classic beginner surfboard criteria.

What makes the Original 54 unique is its formula mixing length, thickness, and bottom contour into a strange monstrosity that creates mirth mercilessly. How do I know this? I surfed it hard over several sessions in varying conditions.

The Session

When I first got my hooks into this board, I had visions of an old friend, Chris Wan, riding his bodyboard at Pipe and OTW on two feet, ripping. But only little kids and Chris can look comfortable standing on a bodyboard. What the heck would a grown-up surfer do with this thing?

I concluded that this board is about fun...lots of it. It's not that complicated really.

The Original 54 Beater shined most brightly in high tide shorebreak funk. The surf was about 2-3 feet and sucking up over shallow sand. This board caught waves easily for such a little nugget. I first went without the fin, and it was spinning out like crazy but was pretty insane on the open face, generating loads of speed. With no fin, I had to maintain a wide stance and stay centered to hold it stable in the pit but with the flat slick bottom, I could ride every wave up on dry sand. Very fun. But again that’s what this board is all about. Even more fun for me, I popped in the single fin which gave it a little bite. The thickness and length didn’t lend to long rail-burying cutbacks, but those same elements made for great lippers and floaters.

In less juicy surf, the board still got in easily and kept its speed over flat spots, but it worked much better in the meaty shorebreak.

Some cool aspects of this board include an interchangeable single fin and bottom channels for added stability and a rounded nose that works for hanging five for short bursts.

The Real Deal

The board was a blast and a perfect little nugget for a beginning surfer because said youngster can belly board for a while until taking that next step. Add the soft board construction, and you’ve got a no-pain beater board. And that’s what I did. I beat the heck out of this thing, bumping the bottom and getting thumped in the shore pound. The Original 54 took it well. It looks a little rougher but still floats and rips. Its thickness helps it catch waves fairly easily and its diminutive size gives it crazy possibilities for more advanced surfers. Who needs a Alaia board when you can keep the 54 into the back seat and bust it out whenever you need some shorebreak sickness. Plus, watching my nine-year old son transition from an 8 foot soft board to 4 foot Beater made for an epic day of surfing in some pretty crappy waves.