Roger builds every board by hand. That’s not to suggest that handmade is the best way to build to board, but I’d be remiss to not mention it when mentioning Roger because it does require a level of dedication and skill that not all surfboard builders exercise. In this case, “by hand” means it’s shaped, laminated, colored, fin set, sanded, and polished by Roger.
Dimensions: 5’10” x 21 1/2” x 2 5/8”
Blank: US Blanks, 6’5”A, PU, Red Density, 4mm poplar ply stringer. Roger is adamant about using US-made raw materials when possible. He exclusively uses US Blanks (made in Los Angeles) and even has designed a few blanks for them, and for Clark Foam prior.
Fins: 5 boxes; 4 Futures and 1 center single box. Multiple configurations were tested.
Surfer: David Scales, 6’ x 168lbs
Sessions Surfed: 6 sessions in a variety of conditions with various fin configurations.
In short, I’m a huge fan of this board. It’s allowing me to entertain my fantasies of hi-performance surfing while subtly coaxing me towards smoother, more drawn-out lines.
It’s wide range of performance characteristics cover multiple spots in my quiver. It could fill the space of a Fish, a Shortboard, an Egg, and with a huge range of fin combinations, it’s stimulated my interest in fin experimentation (something I’ve never devoted my thought towards).
It is shorter than I would have order, but Roger insisted that 5’10” was the right height. He was correct. There is plenty of volume and if it were any longer I might sacrifice some of the responsiveness that I enjoyed.
The board paddles much easier than a “normal” shortboard, more akin to a Fish. It’s speed is a huge asset. The tail is super wide, 16 1/2” (at 12”), but it doesn’t taper much, finishing at 11” at it’s narrowest. The width in the tail creates limitations in the turn radius, however these can be slightly offset by fin configuration and, let’s be honest, it’s not meant to whipped around like a Thurster. The combination between speed and maneuverability was perfectly fine, and in fact, might be the most ideal combination I’ve found in an alternative shortboard shape; more maneuverable than a Fish, faster than a Hi-Performance Shortboard.
I’ve ridden it at a point break, a punchy beach break, in waist-high surf and overhead surf, going both left and right and I’m astonished by it’s versatility (again, plenty of fin options). I don’t expect any board to meet all of a surfer’s needs, but The Ninja covers more than is required. Specifically, ride it in head-high or under surf and practice driving off the bottom, arcing through a carve, and crack the lip when given the chance.
SESSIONS 1 & 2
Location: Upper Trestles
Conditions: 3’+. Waist to chest high. The 1st session had light wind creating crumbly sections, but not a lot of texture on the water. The 2nd session was the following morning and the waves were similar size, but glassy.
Fin Set Up: Quad
Notes: I only got about 10 waves between the 2 sessions and none of them had much vertical face. They were all pretty flat and section-y. I immediately recognized the speed of the board. It works really well through flat sections, banking off whitewash, and generating down-the-line speed. I did a few cutbacks, but again, just on flat shoulder-y sections, nothing critical. The board maintained speed through the cutbacks, but I need to try it in more critical sections/surf.
SESSIONS 3 & 4
Location: Northside Huntington Beach Pier
Conditions: 2’ – 4’, less than ideal. Kinda stormy, but definitely a couple speedy pockets of energy and a few end sections. Lefts and Rights.
Fin Set Up: 2 + 1. The side fins are 3 1/8” Futures side bites, and the center “Single” is a 9 1/2” Yellow Roger Hinds made by Rainbow Fin Co.
Notes: I immediately loved the feel of the 2 + 1 fin set-up. My impulse is always to try to “rip” on a board, to get up and go, which often results in multiple check bottom turns and an overall terrible style and lack of flow. This large single-fin forced me to relinquish control to the board and it would not allow me to “check” it off the bottom turn. I would drop in (frontside) apply some toe pressure and the thing would just smoothly swing through the bottom turn. It actually felt amazing. That same smoothness translated to frontside arcs and cutbacks. Backside felt super smooth too, but I mainly just surfed down the line and banked a few sections. Never really tried to get vert, change direction, nor push the board beyond it’s natural flow. Felt fantastic though. The one major limitation here is that the fin is so heavy. It felt like an anchor and really diminished the speed I enjoyed in the first session. It probably also inhibited my turning radius. I found myself doing downcarves and when doing a cutback, rather than wrapping back and banking off the top of the whitewash, electing to just glide off the bottom wash and back into a bottom turn. The fin set-up shows a ton of potential but I’ll a smaller and lighter fin.
PURCHASED TWO SMALLER, LIGHTER SINGLE FINS
7” Greenough 4A
6” Smith & Parrish Cutaway
SESSIONS 5 & 6
Location: Orange County Beachbreak
Conditions: 6’. Long lefts and shorter, punchier rights. Lots of water moving. Wide ranging style of waves through these sessions with fluctuating tides. Some set waves were well overhead and insiders were knee high. Tons of fun. Great waves all around.
Fin Set Up: 2 + 1. For these sessions I replaced that 9 1/2” Single Fin with the new 7” Greenough 4A. The side fins stayed the same, the 3 1/8” Futures side bites.
Notes: This fin combination felt so right that I can’t imagine ever feeling inclined to try the 6” Smith & Parrish Cutaway. I got a wide variety of waves in these 2 sessions. It allowed me to feel like I got a thorough understanding of the board. Often, to my own detriment, I’ll try to impose my will on a new board. I’ll try to “surf” it to my ability level, rather than let the board find it’s natural flow, trim, etc. Midway through this 5th session I relinquished my dominance, stood up on a right and just let the board and my muscle memory sort it out. It was one of the most satisfying waves in recent memory. I finished the session with a similar left. While it feels immodest to describe those waves, suffice to say, the board allowed me to tweak a couple turns to a degree that I’d call “critical” and similar to what I’d expect from a Hi-Performance Thurster.
In an attempt to sum up all 6 sessions, I’d say that the success of The Ninja is defined by allowing one to “rip” elegantly. It is absolutely easy to maneuver and turn, but doesn’t allow you to feather the speed or “check” through turns. Instead, you lean into a turn (either off the bottom or off the top) and the board gains speed. The turns feel longer and smoother than I’m accustomed too for such a short rail line, but then the board drifts really casually when projected into a critical section. Everyone has different abilities, needs, and preferences, however, as a 36 year old former Hi-Performance Shortboarder who is 5lbs (okay 10lbs) overweight, The Ninja is allowing me to access my surfing potential, and in fact, it’s allowing me to reset some fundamentals that I thought I’d have to ride less maneuverable equipment to access.
To acquire, contact Roger Hinds at RogerHindsSurfboards.com. Mention you read this review and maybe he’ll hook you up. He’s not immune to flattery (nor a bottle of wine)! Also, give him a follow @RogerHindsSurfboards