A more radical brethren of popular CI Average Joe? Channel Islands High 5 is definitely looser and faster than it’s more conservative cousin. But is this a good thing? Read on…
This surfboard review is for the hotly anticipated Channel Islands High 5 Review + Futures AM2 Fins & should answer the question: Is it a more radical brethren of the popular Channel Islands Average Joe [See the Channel Islands Average Joe review…] worthy of your consideration?
Yet, you can still paddle into just about anything on this board and, when your fin setup is dialed, this CI High 5 turns into a supersonic surface planer.
Another soon to be summer / small wave hit by Al Merrick and the CI crew, this is the Channel Islands Surfboards High 5 Review.
Have a question? Wondering if the Channel Islands High 5 is right for you? Let’s talk about it in the comments…
+ A supersonic surface planer that is rocket ship fast and a blast to ride in the right conditions
+ Not limited in terms of performance
+ More nimble, agile, performance oriented version of the Average Joe
– I (Benny) struggled to control this board at first…until I nailed the fin setup. Large thrusters…not what I would normally reach for in this style of craft
– This board is not for the passive surfer or for a laid back, relaxing surf. It needs to managed and pushed
Al Merrick’s High 5 at 5’4 x 19 5/8 x 2 1/2 at 28.5L’s of volume. Craig is rockin a FCS 2 setup with AM2’s up front and Matt Biolos rear trailers. He feels a lot you foam and resin frothers eyeing the High 5 might benefit from the addition of a nubster in the middle box for a little bit of extra hold.
The Channel Islands High 5 at 6’2 x 21 1/4 x 2 7/8 at 41.2L’s of volume. I went straight for a quad setup, which is what I would normally ride in this style of board. After my first surf, I went from medium fins up front with small trailers to large fins up front and larger trailers. This helped but it wasn’t until I got the tip to go with large thruster fins that I clicked with the High 5. It goes great with the new Futures Blackstix F8 [Shop Futures F8 Blackstix now…]. I think you need a large fin for this board and, to my surprise, I think most surfers will find this board is better suited to a thruster setup. Standard CI High 5 dimensions and volumes at the bottom of this page.
Best Wave Type
Just below waist high to chest high and possibly shoulder high. Flatter faced and slower waves are best, else, you catch on fire and start to lose control…
Or, as Craig so aptly stated, if you need to wear a leg rope, you probably won’t be riding this board.
- Purpose built to be faster, livelier and more radical versus the Average Joe
- Single concave to deep double concave with pronounced vee out of the tail
- Low entry rocker, continuous through the plan shape to a more pronounced tail rocker
- Wide, bevelled swallow tail
- Channel Islands Surfboards Average Joe Surfboard Review: this hit tiny wave mush eater is great for cruisy, easy surfing in tiny waves and beginners/novices
- Panda Surfboards Bear Essentials Surfboard Review: a more radical, performance oriented tiny wave board.
- Lost Surfboards Puddle Jumper Surfboard Review: one of the best small waves boards I’ve ridden, full stop. It catches small waves with easy, makes sections and performs with precision. Incredibly will balanced
Video Summary – Part 1, Benny
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This is the Channel Islands High 5 model. This, I think, is quite a hotly anticipated model coming off the back of the Channel Islands Average Joe. The Average Joe, I felt, was quite a good tiny wave groveler style of board. Really intended for the times when the swell is really tiny and weak, almost longboard-esque conditions. Very short, wide, fat frame and intended to get up and get going in really weak waves.
The one critique I would say of the Average Joe, and I heard this from a few people, was that you couldn’t really push it too much. This is certainly how I felt. It is a really great, easy, forgiving board. I know a lot of beginners and novices had a good time on it. I know better surfers that had a good time on it, as well. It was great in tiny waves when you just want to get up and get going. But it was limited in terms of performance.
I think the purpose of this High 5 is really to be a little bit quicker, a little more nimble. Suited for a slightly better, faster, more agile surfer. It’s got a little bit more of a pulled in nose. The tail shape is quite different. I’ve heard this compared to a few different tail shapes. I’ve heard it compared to the Channel Islands Fishcuit [See the Channel Islands Fishcuit surfboard review…] . It’s almost reminiscent of a Fishcuit tail but also if you look at it really carefully, you can see it’s kind of got that bevel. That bevel actually reminds me a lot of the CI Weirdo Ripper tail [See the Channel Islands Weirdo Ripper surfboard review…].
It has a deep single concave going through the middle of the board, that then comes out to this very pronounced double concave and then a vee out the tail, as you can see there. It’s very easy to see because it sticks out quite a lot. The point of this is really to be a more nimble, agile, performance oriented version of the Average Joe suited for those tiny small wave days.
My experience with this board has been quite mixed. In retrospect, this probably a lot to do with fin setups. It took me a while to figure out which fins worked with this board. I’ll talk through that in just a moment.
Experience in the Surf
The first time I surfed this, I was surfing this, almost like a shorey (shore break). Little offshore waves were hitting maybe shoulder high on the sets. It was mostly in the waist to shoulder-high range. They were hitting this shallow sandbank behind a bunch of rocks, and really rocket fasts little lefts running in one direction. Every now and then the occasional right would pop up that would be a little more open.
A couple of waves that I took where I got this big outline planted on steeper faces, this thing just took off. It’s a very flat board. I was able to get to my feet and lodge that nose into the face and get a good pump and get set to go down the line. The thing is like an absolute rocket ship, super fast down the line. The couple of waves that I caught on my backhand, I didn’t have the same experience. It was so swirly, I just couldn’t control it. I couldn’t calm it down and level it.
The second surf I had was a classic, smaller, Autumn day around Sydney. Nice little running walls in my local beach break, mostly lefts and a few rights. Very even pace waves. I had a better surf on it. I could control a little bit more on the backhand although still really fast, really loose. If I pushed too hard, I found I was spinning the board out too much and wasn’t really getting a good flow down the wave. On my forehand, where I felt a little bit more in control, I had some really nice little walls that I was able to go and do a few little pops off the top.
The third surf I had was the best one. It was a little bit bigger, definitely chest and shoulder high and a few occasional head high sets. Not too steep, but steep enough. This thing really came alive. The really steep, fast drops, I couldn’t quite get because again, it’s such a wide outline. It’s in a shorter package. This is a standard 6’2 Al Merrick High 5, so it’s still quite big. The wider outline and the lack of rocker, I did struggle a little bit on the bigger waves that day but it did feel much more settled in the waves that I did get. I didn’t feel like I was ever out of control. That was my experience surfing the High 5 in a few different conditions.
Fin setups, I think, had a very dramatic effect on my experience with this board. Specifically, this board because it’s so fast and so loose and the way the tail shape is geared. It’s geared for really whipping it around, snapping, throwing turns, and throwing it around a bit. I felt as though you needed fins to calm it down a bit. I went from smaller fins to a lot more fin. These bigger Futures QD2, trailers in the back from Futures Fins. These Futures AM2’s in the front, which are a larger fin, and a stiffer fin. That combination worked really well.
I’ve heard that putting bigger thruster fins in here, even like the big Futures Blackstix F8’s, the big maroon/black ones, that would probably work really in this. Something to control it.
[UPDATE, post filming the review, I rode the High 5 with the Futures F8 Blackstix and, as noted above, big fins and a thruster setup is the configuration I would recommend to most surfers – Shop the Futures F8 Blackstix here…]
Most of the time when you ride one of these bigger, fatter boards with little rocker and lots of foam distributed throughout, to me, you’re usually wanting a fin that’s going to allow you to maneuver the board a bit more. This was almost, I would say, the opposite. It was more about controlling it, and controlling the speed and controlling the looseness of this board. That was the fin setups that I went through with the High 5. I ended with the Futures Am2’s in the front and the QD2 trailers in the back.
The Good, the Good, and the Not So Good
We’re going to get rid of the term the good, the bad, the ugly. That was a Clint Eastwood rip off that didn’t really make sense because most boards, frankly, have more good about them than they do bad. It’s not really about good and bad anyways. It’s more about what might work really well for your in a given the board and what might not for what is intended.
The good – it is rocket ship fast in small surf, as you might guess. Really lively, really nimble. For all of the people that have questions about the Average Joe and say, “I’m a more advanced surfer and I’ve heard the Average Joe can be a little bit limiting.” This could be a very good option for you.
I think this will really loosen up your surfing in small, gutless conditions. If you’re a big roundhouse person, you’ll be able to do that on this board in tiny waves. You’ll really be able to throw this High 5 around in many ways that you can’t surf some of the other tiny wave grovelers on the market.
“Rocket ship fast down the line and super fun and playful in small to tiny surf.”
This is suited probably for the intermediate to more advanced surfer. If you’re a novice or you’re a beginner, you’d probably be okay with this. It might be a little bit less stable than some of the other boards out there. I do think a lot of different ability levels of surfers could do this.
I would encourage you to get some big fins to control the back end, the business half, of the High 5. That is my take on the High 5.
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OUTRO: A supersonic surface planer, this is the Channel Islands High 5.
Video Summary – Part 2, Craig
Hey, my name’s Craig and I’m doing a review of the High 5 by Channel Islands for CompareSurfboards.com.
This High 5 I’ve been riding is 5’4 x 19 5/8 x 2 1/2. Comes in a 28 1/2 liters. The High 5 has got a little bit of rocker. Like a pretty gentle rocker through the board. Nothing too dramatic. It is like a smaller wave groveler board. It also does have a pretty deep double concave through the center, which comes up quite high, probably 2/3 of the board.
So, I think a light single coming into that. The High 5 is supposedly a bit of a mixture, they say, it’s kind of connected to the average Joe, but looking at the board, and especially looking at the tail, I kind of get a Fishcuit feel about it.
I got this board, it kind of replaced, I always have like a govelly kind of boy in my quiver and this came at the cost of getting rid of Channel Islands Sperm Whale [See the Channel Islands Sperm Whale surfboard review…], which I found was a good board for kind of cruising, not having to put much effort into your surfing and I got this and I wasn’t quiet sure about it. It is a very different kind of board.
It is a tiny wave groveler for those junky little shoreys and what not but it does like to be surfed, whereas the Sperm Whale just kind of cruised along. It took me awhile to get used to but over summer in like some shoreys, some sort of rip bowls the board lit it up, just left, rights, whatever you threw at it, it’s a really, really fun board to work. To surf.
“I think, also, it’s for a surfer who kind of likes to do a bit of work in their surfing. A lot of pumping and turning and keeping active.”
It’s definitely that sort of board for those smaller conditions.
Regarding waves and that, I guess it is for the grovelly sort of stuff. Weak and mushy. It’s that board. I call it my no leg rope board. If I have to wear a leg rope I don’t ride this board, so that goes with wave heights. If we’re looking at waist to chin high waves this is the thing I ride.
It’s got a five fin setup but the tail ends quiet dramatically with a swallow as you can see, just here, so I don’t know if you’d ride it as a thruster but you might put a stabiliser (nubster) in it.
I’ve put the large FCS2 AM2’s in the front and these are the Matt Biolos five fin quad rears, so these are quite a large fin setup and it still feels, even with those fins in it, like they’re larger than I normally ride in a quad set up, but it still feels very loose. Kind of through turns and that, quiet slidey, but not ever that you’re going to slide out.
I see a lot of people ride with a little stabiliser nubster type thing in the quads. It could possibly do with that, you know what I mean, I don’t think it would hurt to have that extra hold, because like I said, the tail just end quiet dramatically, so you don’t have that rail continuing on for hold. So, it is quite loose and quite snappy, but I think that’s also what makes it fun.
Overall, I feel the Channel Islands High 5 is a board for everyone. I’ve got the High 5 here in the 5’4, which is 28.5 liters, which is almost smack on for what I get for my performance or just normal shortboards but I think getting it scaled up a bit more size I think it’s a board that would cover most surfers. I think your advance surfers would have a lot of fun with this at your grovelly days at your local beach during summer when you get average waves and I think also your beginners/intermediate beginner surfers could definitely scale it out to have enough foam under you.
It’s a very forgiving and easy to surfboard, you know what I mean, a bit of extra foam under your feet.
Thank you for watching the review. Hopefully you can get yourself out and check out the High 5. It’s definitely a fun board for everyone and I think most people would enjoy it. I hope you enjoyed the review and have a good day. Thanks.
Stock Standard Dimensions & Volume
Standard Channel Islands High 5 Dimensions & Volumes from the Channel Islands website:
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Love my High 5 in smaller mush. Super fast and loose, great for making the most out of Florida summer conditions