Channel Islands CI Pro Surfboard Review
For 2022’s Stab in the Dark contest, Jack Robinson selected Channel Islands’ “CI Pro” as his favorite high-performance shortboard. Originally designed by Britt Merrick and Parker Coffin, the CI Pro has been thrust into production for the general public after surfers, including me, were blown away by the incredible level of surfing in the short series from Stab. After several sessions on the board, I’ll review the CI Pro and answer the question everyone is wondering: can the average joe ride this board?
“Personally, I can’t get off this thing and am having so much fun figuring it out. If you’re a surfer with an intermediate to advanced surfing ability and access to waves with some juice, definitely try the CI Pro.”
History of Shaper
Britt Merrick is the lead designer and shaper at Channel Islands Surfboards, shaping and developing boards in Carpinteria, California, for some of the world's best surfers. The son of Al Merrick, Britt has been around surfboards and surfers his whole life.
Channel Islands currently makes boards for surfing icons Dane Reynold and Bobby Martinez and is responsible for shaping the boards under Kelly Slater’s feet for all 11 world Titles. High-Performance boards that push the boundaries as far as progression have always been CI’s bread and butter.
If you have a few extra minutes, read through our interview with Britt Merrick himself!
Channel Islands CI Pro
The CI Pro is the most rockered board in the Channel Island lineup. It was designed by Parker Coffin, who wanted to deviate from the flatter performance shortboards in the Happy Family (Happy, Two Happy, etc.). The rocker is most extreme under the feet, allowing lightning-quick direction changes. The rocker is less aggressive out the tail of the surfboard, which allows for maximum projection. The combination enables surfers to turn on a dime no matter how fast the board goes.
The CI Pro has an ever so slight single concave throughout, going into a subtle double concave through the fins. This causes the board to sit in the water and creates a more connected feel, especially when turning at high speeds. When feeling the board, the rails are soft and full. The curvier outline paired with the forgiving rails provides for extreme rail-to-rail surfing. The board comes stock with a squash tail; however, it works amazing with a round tail as well.
I ordered the CI Pro in PU construction to use on days with cleaner and bigger waves. I went with the normal 4oz glassing throughout to make the board more sensitive and reactive. In the past, I’ve tried the heaver 6oz glass, but it isn’t my cup of tea. It’s definitely more durable but harder to turn. After riding the board a handful of times, understandably, there are some light-pressure dents on the deck.
If you want the CI Pro as an everyday shortboard, check out their epoxy Spinetek construction. Spinetek will be lighter, more durable, and have different flex characteristics that allow you to harness and maintain speed in weak waves. Personally, with the windy Oregon conditions and the fact I wanted to get this board for days over head high, I stuck with PU.
First off, I am not a professional surfer or anywhere near the level of a professional surfer. That said, some of my favorite CI boards have been their more rockered shortboards, such as the Rook 15. If you’re surfing good waves, the rocker can be used to your advantage in sticking late drops and turning in more critical parts of the wave.
Furthermore, for being the “most rockered board in our lineup,” the CI Pro paddles like a dream and catches waves amazingly well. I was ever surprised by how well it surfed through fat sections, which I struggled with on the Two Happy.
Initially, I got this board for good waves 5 feet and over. However, I have ridden it in shoulder-high waves, and the board will perform as long as the shape and energy are there. I have yet to ride it on my forehand, but I absolutely love it on my backhand. You can put the board where you want it to go and have confidence in what it will do. For me and my ability, that is all I can ask for.
So far, I am really happy with the thruster setup. Currently, I am rocking the Futures John John Techflex tri fin set in size large when the waves are good. The stiffer fin harnesses all the speed allowing you to make any section you want.
When the waves are more user-friendly, I have been riding the large Futures Jordy Smith Honeycomb tri fin set, which is similar to the AM2 template. The smaller center fin loosens up the board through maneuvers. Honestly, you could throw any thruster in the CI Pro and be stoked.
So, is the CI Pro worth the Stab in the Dark hype? Personally, I can’t get off this thing and am having so much fun figuring it out. This board is amazing if it’s anywhere from shoulder-high to double overhead with some shape. If you’re a surfer with an intermediate to advanced surfing ability and access to waves with some juice, definitely try the CI Pro.
My board is 6’2” x 19 ⅝” x 2 ⅝” and comes in at 33.8 Liters. At 210 lbs. I was worried I would be too big for the board. “All it took was one wave to ease my mind”: that’s what Jack Robinson said when he picked this board as the winner of Stab in the Dark. When you don’t have to think, and the board just does what it is supposed to, that is a perfect board. I agree.
If you have any questions about the CI Pro or any of the Channel Islands surfboards, feel free to comment below, email us at email@example.com, or call us at 1-888-546-6176. See’ya in the water!