The Channel Islands Black Flag Whip is a complex shape that takes time to understand and appreciate. Work it out and you will fall in love with this board.
Welcome to Benny’s Boardroom: real surfboard reviews & chronicles of a wave obsessed surfboard addict. Today, we review the Channel Islands Black Flag Whip Surfboard by Kelly Slater and Al Merrick.
+ Subtle, complex bottom contours and the double concave deck combine to create a ride that must be felt to be believed – smooth, precise, connected
+ Shorter, wider ‘Whip’ outline paddles well and generates tons of speed but isn’t limited in big, powerful waves. In fact, I prefer the Black Flag Whip in overhead surf
+ Changing fin setups changes the character of the ride more than other boards: I like the quad with a nubster for speed in flatter faced waves and as a thruster with more upright, stiffer fins in bigger, more powerful/hollow conditions
+ You don’t need to be a pro or even advanced surfer to enjoy this board – I’m not! This may sound strange as a benefit but I know a lot of surfers avoid ‘Kelly Slater boards’ because they think the designs must be too advanced (not unreasonable given Kelly one of the best surfers to ever live) for them. While it did take a little bit of getting used to, this board absolutely rips and make me feel like I surf better than I do
– “Kelly’s 2010 small wave design” may work in small waves for Kelly Slater but I struggled with it in weaker waves and/or those below shoulder high – I think this board excels in waves with grunt (Read: Indonesia)
– Expensive: true, it comes with a 5-fin set of FCS K2’s (not optional) but, at just under $1,000, this is exy as you will pay for a PU board
The Channel Islands Black Flag Whip surfboard by Kelly Slater at 6’4 x 20 x 2 3/4 @ 37.7L’s of volume. Full standard Channel Islands Black Flag Whip volumes and dimensions at the bottom of this page.
Best Wave Type
Powerful, shoulder high to well overhead waves. Points, reefs, beach breaks; the Channel Islands Black Flag Whip will handle it.
- Stacey Surfboards Roach surfboard review: an amazing all rounder (leaning towards performance) that rides with a similarly connected feel. The Roach can do no wrong!
- Channel Islands #4 by Dane Reynolds surfboard review: some striking similarities between the two but the #4 has an edge in versatility while the Black Flag Whip excels in better quality conditions
- Channel Islands Whip: the original, single concave version of the same concept
Like a fine wine, the Channel Islands Black Flag Whip is a complex shape that takes time to understand and appreciate.
My brother-in-law, Russel, bought this board before me and, after a few ‘so-so’ surfs on it, he hit a stride and then wouldn’t shut up about how amazing it is. It actually got annoying. I had to silence him and so it was that I bought my own Black Flag Whip.
Russel and I don’t always agree on boards – I’m heavy and push hard on the front foot to get going whereas he is lighter and surfs more off of the back foot. In the Channel Islands Black Flag Whip by Kelly Slater, however, we wholly and unequivocally agree: this board rips!
I surfed my Black Flag Whip for the first time on a typical day at a local beach break. It was messy, waist to shoulder high, and weak at about a 9 second period. I didn’t have a bad surf but I didn’t see the magic right away. I liked that I could dig that moon tail hard into the face and that it would release nicely while simultaneously springing me like a slingshot back down the line. The volume felt well distributed through the foil and was enough to get me up and going.
During my next surf, the Black Flag Whip revealed more of itself to me and I liked what I saw. Given my weight (~105kg’s / 231 pounds), I ride boards with a lot of volume and I do lose a bit of feeling through all that foam. On this day, it was head high but flatter faced and clean and the Black Flag Whip felt like it was stuck to my feet: very responsive and smooth. I still don’t know what the “tri plane hull” thing does when combined with a relatively standard single to double concave but I like it, especially when combined with the concave deck.
The clincher for me was a trip to the Mentawai Islands, off of the coast of Indonesia. In surfing’s mecca, I surfed the Black Flag Whip from waist high Macaronis to double overhead Nipussi with much success. It handled back hand barrels at Lance’s Right (even if I didn’t) and excelled at overhead, reeling, hollow Lance’s Left. It was my ‘go to’ board on the boat trip that year and I was smitten.
As feedback, I disagree with Channel Islands that this is a ‘small wave board’. It has too much rocker and, in my opinion, needs a bit of power to really turn on. However, if you’re surfing more technical waves with a bit of power, you will find peace and happiness in the Channel Islands Black Flag Whip by Kelly Slater, grasshopper.
Have you ridden a Black Flag Whip? Write your own review of this board.
Stock Standard Dimensions & Volume
Channel Islands Black Flag Whip surfboard by Kelly Slater standard dimensions and volume from the Channel Islands website:
|5’8||18 1/2||2 1/5||24.3L|
|5’9||18 3/4||2 1/4||26.2L|
|5’10||18 7/8||2 1/4||26.4L|
|6’0||19 1/4||2 3/8||29.3L|
|6’1||19 1/2||2 1/2||31.5L|
|6’2||19 3/4||2 1/2||32.1L|
|6’3||19 7/8||2 5/8||34.1L|
|6’5||20 1/4||2 3/4||38.4L|
|6’6||20 1/2||2 7/8||40.7L|
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