When the dust settled following the surprise closing of Clark Foam in late 2005which seemed to mean the instant death of surfboard blanks, the building blocks of hand-shaped boardsit turns out it wasn't such a big deal after all. Surfers kept surfing. New foam companies popped up. And shapers kept shaping. Fittingly, this year's Gear of the Year winner, the single-fin MR 1979, proves that a perfectly shaped board is timeless.
MR 1979 Retro Single-Fin (5'10"6'8") $700 lostenterprises.com
1. Can you imagine a tent from the 1970s making it into these pages now? Not a chance. But a good surfboard is a good surfboard, and the retro shape of the single-fin MR, which was designed by surf icon Mark Richards, was hands-down this year's most stable, predictable, and smooth ride.
2. The MR's defining attribute is its single fin. While multi-finned boards let you turn more quickly and can give you more drive, getting on a single-fin board is like taking the training wheels off a bicycle. And it gets better as you gain confidence: The bigger the waves, the smoother the MR performs.
3. "Paddles great. It feels like you can catch anything on this board," said one tester. The MR has minimal rocker and plenty of thickness (three inches of foam) to help you slip into waves early, while the single-to-double-barrel concave and shallow spiral V bottom give it amazing natural speed.
4. The rounded pintail design provides good control in bigger surfI felt solid and unwavering dropping into overhead beach-break waves. But it's also versatile. I surfed it in a wide variety of conditions and, thanks to its floaty smoothness, had fun on it in everything but tiny, gutless waves.
5. Caution: not for beginners. "Takes some getting used to, for sure," said one tester. "It's not like most boards people are surfing these days." But once you learn how to surf the MR from rail to rail, we guarantee your performance and flow will improve on every other board you surf.