6'3" , 175lb. + hooded 5/4, boots, gloves
Level: int. to occasionally advanced
Dims: 6'4" x 19 1/4" x 2 7/16" approx. 31L
EPS Tech Standard glassing.
Nose width at 12": 11.75"
Tail width at 12": 14.3"
Nose Rocker: 4.75"
Tail Rocker: 2.95"
The Sword is a single concave thruster. Nose rocker is medium with a very smooth entry that continues through the center and accelerates out the tail. Tail rocker is decidedly high. There is not much flip up front so while the 4.75" nose rocker number seems low for the length, it's definitely not. At the same time it has less nose rocker than many other boards I've ridden and owned. The tail rocker is higher than any other board currently in my quiver.
The bottom contours are moderate vee belly through the entry to fairly ample single concave, deepest at leading edge of front fin boxes flattening out through fin cluster to a very slight vee being rear fin.
It's tempting to just call the outline narrow throughout but despite the look and the measurements I think it has a little more width through the midsection than it appears. As far as I know most of Stretch's shortboards are wide point on center and I could be wrong but I think the Sword is as well. There is a slight hip by the front fins or perhaps it's more of an accelerated reduction of width. I think some of the old Swords had more of a defined hip compared to the ones he's been making in the last year or so but I could be wrong.
The foil is fairly foam forward compared to the norm. It's not at all chunky up front but there is some foam hidden up there for sure. The rails through the nose are medium and through the midsection they are fairly full. Even compared to other Stretch thrusters I've owned of the same thickness like the Thing and Lil Buddy I feel like the Sword has a thicker rail profile at center. But only through the center couple feet. As we head towards the tail everything thins out quite a bit until we reach a very thin and refined tail block.
I got this one last fall and rode it on some of the better days throughout this past year. It wasn't a great year for surf and I have many boards to ride so I probably only have about 20-30 sessions on it. I feel like I have a good read on it though. Ended up being one of my favorites for really steep, hollow waves.
I had originally planned on getting a 6'3" since that's what I normally ride in good waves but something told me that with the narrower outline I would be better off going up an inch. I'm very glad I did. Even another inch or two longer would have been fine for me with this design I think. Dims and volume came out great. Even though the rails are full through the midsection they don't feel too full when surfing.
The board paddles okay. Not amazing but not as bad as some shorty's. There's no real glide over flat water but the moderate entry doesn't feel like it's plowing water like some boards. All of Stretch's boards I've ridden catch waves very well and this one is no exception. I haven't had any issues with the EPS chatter and the board actually does pretty well in bumpy conditions with the vee entry feeling like it cuts through the water rather than getting lifted by chop as some concave boards do.
If the waves are at all mushy or weak, forget about it. This thing does not grovel. I mean, it doesn't have to be massive for it to come alive but it needs some steepness or it just kinda feels like it's sinking and it's not worth the amount of work it takes to generate speed. Especially when I have about a dozen boards more suited to the job.
When I watched Dane ride the Sword in SITD I was impressed by how well he did on it considering the conditions (although those Durban beachies can be deceivingly surfable when small and junky) and I was also bummed that he never rode it in any good waves.
The Sword, to me, is most suited to steep waves that are bowled up rather than walled up. It's really good at going vertical, slashing in the pocket and overall just feeling very lively yet controllable in the most critical parts of the wave. With a little speed and your rear foot on the pad, the world is your oyster. Very quick and responsive rail to rail. I rode it almost exclusively with the large Creatures Arc Fiberglass fins which are very similar to AM2's but with slightly smaller trailer. I normally fiddle endlessly with fins but after my first session I couldn't imagine anything feeling better in the board. I tried medium sized fins once and quickly went in to change back to the Arc's. It felt lacking in drive and too loose with the smaller fins.
Speaking of drive...it's there but it's not like some boards where you can just push hard against the fins and off you go down the longest wall and over any flat spot. The biggest adjustment for me and the thing that really made this board come alive under my feet was riding it with a heavy front foot. It actually has some glide if you engage that forward entry but it did take some getting used to the first few sessions. If the waves were not perfect and I was trying to surf it too much off the tail it could feel boggy and too pivotal but if I weighted forward more and used the rail better it would come alive. When the waves provided the power I felt like I was able to really cover some ground and make long sections that I didn't expect to. In the barrel the board is great. Both frontside and backside it felt really good driving through hollow sections.
Off the bottom it always held in for me. Never had anything wonky happen on a bottom turn that wasn't my own fault. Off the top it's probably more engaged than the average short board. That thin and narrow tail doesn't slide around or give out too easily. It can carve really tight arcs but it stays hooked up through the turn which I like, especially when the waves are big.
If you rode thrusters in the 1990's and early 2000's you might remember how great a thin, rockered out shortboard can feel in good, juicy surf. And also how punishing it was to try to ride one in gutless windswell. To me the Sword feels like kind of a throwback to that era but it has two advantages that I see over many of the wafer thin boards I grew up riding.
First, the big one: It catches waves better. Getting in and getting in early makes all the difference. The usable, smooth entry and volume forward are key I think.
Second: It's more forgiving. The flat deck with fuller rails right at the front foot gives a higher level of stability than the outline suggests. It also feels pretty catch free since there is so much rocker.
This is not a one board quiver. This is not even a daily driver for most of us. This is the board you ride when your local is firing or when you travel to good surf spots.
If I had to compare it to boards I've ridden in the past 5 years it's probably closest in feel to the CI DFR/Proton with the amount of tail rocker it has but I like the Sword a lot more. I have a JS FMN that is the other board I would ride on good days. I really like the FMN and vs. the Sword I think I'd choose the JS when the waves are more lined up vs. the sword when things are barreling. Like, I'd take the FMN to J-bay over the Sword and the Sword I'd take to Barbados. FMN has more drive off the back foot and more drawn out turns whereas the Sword turns sharper and feels a little more engaged in really juicy stuff.
I guess if I was to order another one I'd probably ask for a little more nose width to help with paddling and straiten the rail line for a little more drive. As much as anything I think it's a mental thing just looking at such a narrow nose is strange compared to most of my boards which have over 12" nose widths. The tail rocker seems extreme and could prob be lowered a hair without losing much but I wouldn't want to change it too much. Overall it feels like a well thought out design where each element is considered in relation to everything else.
I think that's about it. Here's a few pics.
vee belly entry