Dark Arts vs. Varial with Carbon…

Jun 23, 2003
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178
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My 2c,

I spent most of last year on Dark Arts and really like them. Great shapes and exceptional build quality. Very light, but haven’t noticed any drawbacks like I did way back when the original Marko builds seemed to lack drive for me. Lots of spring, and have ridden step ups in solid conditions and they feel good. Enough so that I would be comfortable bringing just Dark Arts builds on solid surf trip.

Recently picked up quiver Varial carbon. Initially felt light but they definitely are heavier than Dark Arts. Shapes (CIs and Apia) came out great and very happy with them. Rode extensively over the past month and they go great. For me more solid feeling, maybe more like PU builds, but still lots of pop. I would say feel “more damp” in comparison, which is not to say better or worse.

Have bough Dark Arts again after riding Varial Carbon, and will definitely still buy more Varial Carbon. Great to have choice of quality builds and shapes!
 

Aruka

Kelly Slater status
Feb 23, 2010
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Varial is slightly heavier I think. Not that it's heavy at all but Dark Arts are just so light. The Varial Carbon feels more solid and is holding up well. The Darkarts seem pretty tough as well although I have dinged one against my shin and I think they might suffer slightly more deck denting. I'm like 10 sessions into my first Varial Carbon (plasmic) and there is very little deck denting. Varial feels a little damper and less chattery.

I think if you like EPS, you will probably like Dark Arts.

Overall I think I prefer the Varial. It's a better core foam IMO. Will see how it holds up long term but it just feels more solid and I love the way it surfs. I will be ordering a daily driver or step up in this construction. Depending on which shaper you get it's a little cheaper than DA, especially if you have it shipped.
 

LifeOnMars

Michael Peterson status
Jan 14, 2020
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can they do dark arts with an XPS blank? pretty sure I saw this in a video clip where you could see outline of the massive blue stringer in the middle
 

sh3

Billy Hamilton status
Dec 1, 2008
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Interesting. I can add nothing elucidating to this discussion.

That said, I ordered a Varial board recently and the lack of "chatter" in chop was a big thing they pushed. When the surf gets DOH, my XTRs definitely have the chatter going on so I'm excited to try this out. Probably be a a few months before it's done. I'm excited now to get it given the comments above which seem to verify everything I'm being told.

Question for the Varial illuminati: Is there a difference in feel between the carbon and non-carbon versions then?
 
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Aruka

Kelly Slater status
Feb 23, 2010
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Interesting. I can add nothing elucidating to this discussion.

That said, I ordered a Varial board recently and the lack of "chatter" in chop was a big thing they pushed. When the surf gets DOH, my XTRs definitely have the chatter going on so I'm excited to try this out. Probably be a a few months before it's done. I'm excited now to get it given the comments above which seem to verify everything I'm being told.

Question for the Varial illuminati: Is there a difference in feel between the carbon and non-carbon versions then?
I think the Carbon is stiffer. For the chunky little 5-9 I have it doesn't probably flex that much anyways. I will be curious to see how a more foiled out HPSB feels. I think the carbon varial feels more like a normal varial than it does like an EPS of any sort. And Varial foam itself does feel a bit damper than XTR. I like XTR but I agree it starts to get a little too lively when it's around DOH. For a good wave board I'm undecided between 6-4-6 varial or carbon
 

frontsidegrab

Gerry Lopez status
Dec 4, 2014
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Don;t own a carbon but I can confirm that the varial is PU worthy in terms of handling chop and chatter. I've been riding a good wave varial glassed with PE since last winter. Goes great. Going this directions with the rest of my boards, I think.
 

waxfoot

Billy Hamilton status
Apr 21, 2018
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My 2c,

I spent most of last year on Dark Arts and really like them. Great shapes and exceptional build quality. Very light, but haven’t noticed any drawbacks like I did way back when the original Marko builds seemed to lack drive for me. Lots of spring, and have ridden step ups in solid conditions and they feel good. Enough so that I would be comfortable bringing just Dark Arts builds on solid surf trip.

Recently picked up quiver Varial carbon. Initially felt light but they definitely are heavier than Dark Arts. Shapes (CIs and Apia) came out great and very happy with them. Rode extensively over the past month and they go great. For me more solid feeling, maybe more like PU builds, but still lots of pop. I would say feel “more damp” in comparison, which is not to say better or worse.

Have bough Dark Arts again after riding Varial Carbon, and will definitely still buy more Varial Carbon. Great to have choice of quality builds and shapes!
How resistant to footwells / pressure dents are they respectively?
 
Jun 23, 2003
51
178
33
North East
How resistant to footwells / pressure dents are they respectively?
Both Dark Arts and Varial Carbon are holding up really well for me. Both have hoof marks but much much less than even heavy PU builds. I am not easy on decks and have a kooky habit of banging my knee(s) on late drops especially backside grabs and also as I get fatigued. If you are light footed I would expect minimum deck denting for quite some time, and again for me it’s been pretty light. I don’t really care much about deck denting as long as it doesn’t become structural.

I have dinged Dark Arts (it’s been minimal) but I’m sure any board would have in the situation(s).

My thought is Dark Arts may prove to be slightly “harder” but a tad more “brittle” than Varial carbon as far as denting/dings - but that’s just my initial impression not years of maintenance or experience.

I’m a fan of both builds for sure, also really like XTR FX2, and haven’t ridden but super impressed with build quality from Drew Baggett (maybe next order!)
 
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griffinsurfboard

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Oct 31, 2004
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Please explain how the rocker is not altered on stringer less blanks without rocker beds

It is happening , you're just not aware of it . - Unless its being hidden as part of the secret process .

A few years ago UWL in France was making an adjustable rocker bed that can be set to the program #'s to address the flex during glassing . - its real
 
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ReForest

Gerry Lopez status
Oct 7, 2020
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Please explain how the rocker is not altered on stringer less blanks without rocker beds

It is happening , you're just not aware of it . - Unless its being hidden as part of the secret process .

A few years ago UWL in France was making an adjustable rocker bed that can be set to the program #'s to address the flex during glassing . - its real
I'm betting the numbers are negligible on small boards, if any at all. Maybe more significant on a long board or something. Was anything ever measured to see how much it was changing the rocker?

The type of blank would changes things also (EPS, PU, XPS).
 

griffinsurfboard

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I'm betting the numbers are negligible on small boards, if any at all. Maybe more significant on a long board or something. Was anything ever measured to see how much it was changing the rocker?

The type of blank would changes things also (EPS, PU, XPS).
These 7 first run samples are stringer less
All had the same rocker flaw

They dipped in the center removing the rocker and raising the deck to the point it was an s deck - Not the Programmed rocker .
A trademark of stringer less sagging between the 2 glassing racks
A complete fail compared to what I make .
All the fin plugs were incorrect - all mine are because I care - Dang ! I must be Super Duper High Tech ;-)





Stringerless needs some sort of support during glassing like a stringer does to retain the designed rocker - and can be

I imagine that would be proudly spoken of by those who do so .

If Mr. Price would have corrected these he would have sold 12+ years of them - dats alot of bubba bucks :)
 
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sh3

Billy Hamilton status
Dec 1, 2008
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So as you know, I'm a paddleboard person. HUGE EPS blanks are used and have to be glassed properly. Rocker cradles are essential with these to avoid that dreaded sag. I had one 14' board that wasn't properly set in the cradle and the stupid rocker on that thing was ridiculous. Nailing the rocker on a board - any board whether it be a surf or a paddle board - is critical.