This is a review of a longboard written by a shortboarder, so it's more of a general surf craft assessment than, say, a highly technical and detailed analysis of rocker and rails. Longboarding makes me feel like a kook. It's not the log; it's the logger. Everything -- from where to wax (everywhere?) to those giant fins and an inability to duckdive -- is outside of my customary surf sphere. That's not to say that I never dabble in stretched-out surfing: in addition to exposing my inner crybaby, longboards also brings out my hyper stoked inner grom. NSP's Coco Mat Longboard fell into line.
What it is: NSP Coco Mat boards have an EPS core and a unique, patent-pending shell of natural coconut husk fibers that are laminated between two layers of epoxy. Coconut fibers are featherweight but mega sturdy. Global Surf Industries, which manufactures NSP boards, says Coco Mats are about 25 to 30 percent lighter and 50 percent stronger (in breakage tests) than their ordinary NSP counterparts -- which are already stronger and lighter than many more traditional boards on the market. Coconut husk, or coir, is an abundant, sustainable resource that doesn't need much processing, so they're pretty environmentally friendly. They look interesting, too. Like wood ... but not.
Why it rules: You can surf anytime.
A friend of mine actually suggested that I test out the Coco Mat because I'm a lady and, y'know, ladies hate heavy lifting and are generally less prone to athleticism than men. Ha! We all know that's a bunch of blarney. Except in my case. I am a shortboarder primarily due to my propensity for saying, "Screw it. I don't feel like carrying this thing anymore," and letting said thing clamor unceremoniously in the street. Which probably makes me the ideal [skeptical] tester of "the lightest and strongest surfboards on the market today." You know I believe in a truly rigorous test, so I said, "Send me the biggest one you've got!"
GSI President Mark Kelly said, "Well... maybe not." Or something like that.
I said, "Yeah, okay, the 9'2" should be sufficiently enormous."
I am glad the man behind the brand advised me on this. Not because the 9'2" was a laughably unfair jump start in the lineup, but because I really don't think I'd be able to transport anything bigger.
I tested the Coco Mat on micro days on the Gold Coast when the waves were barely breaking, as well as in some chest-high waves that would have been super fun on a shorty. It performed well in both. Its size makes stroking in no sweat, while its minimal tonnage, narrow tail, and tri-fin setup make it surprisingly maneuverable. Dropping in and avoiding the many heads bobbing in front of me were drama free.
The board is light, especially for its size, but it's 22 7/8" wide and quite thick: 3 3/16." My wingspan is 68", so it's too big for me to carry with anything approaching facility or comfort. If I were taller, this point would be moot, and the board's boat-like size and buoyancy are part of its charm.
Coco Mat's high-tech epoxy construction is what allows it to be light. If you're not used to epoxy, it can feel slightly hollow at first. It isn't hollow, and you're not going to put a hole in it. The coir also absorbs some of the shock, so this board has better flex than a lot of other epoxies.
My final test was to remove the M3 "auxiliary" fins and try this baby as a singlefin. Do not do this. The 9'2" Coco Mat has three fins for a reason.
This board is easy to ride, hard to ding, and won't put your in the red. It's also fun. It's not an objet d'art, and if you're accustomed to performance longboards, you may not be 100 percent satisfied. It is, however, an affordable quiver expansion and a perfect beginner's board. It's also making an effort to be green, which is always cool.
Where to find it: Coco Mat Longboards are available at Surfindustries.com and in some surf shops for $695 to $815, depending on length. Coco Mats are also available as fish, funboards, and SUPs. They all come with a leash and FCS fins.