Channel Islands MINI Surfboard is a modernized take on the retro fish that feels beautiful and smooth down the line and has a surprisingly good wave range.
Comin’ in HOT for summer, this is the Channel Islands MINI Surfboard Review + Futures Fins HS1 Generation Series. A performance tuned, modernised fish design that extends the reach of the traditional fish while still maintaining that old school cruisy ride.
If you’re into the traditional fish design but want a board that will handle a broader range of sizes and conditions, this is a great option.
Hope you enjoy this Channel Islands MINI Surfboard Review + Futures Fins HS1 Generation Series!
All the best,
Have a question? Wondering if the Channel Islands MINI Surfboard is the right board for you? Let’s talk about it in the comments…
+ Paddles like a champ and catches waves super easily
+ Has a really beautiful flow down the line, feels really smooth and great
+ Surprisingly versatile and sensitive relative to the older school, less user-friendly fish designs
+ The lowered rails and the tapered, more knifey nose coupled with a rounded square tail modernize the feel of it and make it a lot more accessible
– It’s not meant to be surfed too aggressively. I found that I had a bit of trouble breaking the tail free, so I wouldn’t say this is the sort of board you’re going to surf radically in the pocket or anything like that; it’s not the intention
I surfed the Channel Islands Mini Surfboard at 6’1″ x 21 x 2 7/8 at 42.8 L’s. After experimenting with fins quite a bit, I settled with the Futures Fins, HS1 Hayden Shapes Generation Series, the large fins, with the accompanying rear quad trailers. I definitely preferred surfing this board as a quad, and I did surf it as a thruster. I also added the nubster to the back. I found that with some of the fin setups, the board felt a little bit swirly, probably because of that domed deck and lower rails. So I put the nubster in just to see how it would go, and it really settled the board and made it a lot more controllable and just made it feel a lot more connected.
Standard Channel Islands MIni Surfboard dimensions and volumes may be found at the bottom of this page.
Best Wave Type
The Channel Islands Mini Surfboard has a surprising amount of versatility for what it is, which is basically a modernized version of the old-school Skinny Fish designs. I think it still works best in the smaller knee to stomach-high, even up to shoulder head high, but I think the smaller waves, definitely works better. It will handle a steeper face, it will handle a faster wave, but I wouldn’t take this board really out of anything above head-high.
This board is really positioned as being the groveler in your quiver for those small weak days.
- Draws inspiration from Al Merrick’s Skinny Fish
- Tear drop plan shape
- Wider nose, wide point forward, and then it draws again gradually back into a cool squash tail
- Has an enormous amount of paddle power
- Rails are low and sensitive
- Knifey feeling nose which is noticeably thin
- Very flat rocker, very fast board
- Features a single concave through that very wide center flowing to a double concave and vee out of the tail
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Hey my name is Ben, this is Benny’s Boardroom. If you’ve been here before, welcome back. If you haven’t been here before, this is a place where we buy, ride, and review surfboards because we love surfboards.
This is the Channel Islands Mini Surfboard. This is a different sort of board. I remember seeing this for the first time at the Onboard Store in Mona Vale. I liked it right away. I’m a big fan of the old school fish style surfboards. Rather, I like the idea of them and how they look but, in my experience, I found them sometimes a little bit harder to surf.
This does take a little bit of inspiration from Al Merrick’s Skinny Fish. This does have a lot of fishy elements to it. You can see, I think, noticeably when you look at the outline.
The outline is quite different than a lot of boards you see. It’s more like a tear drop shape. Less so just the wide point being forward. It has a wide point forward but you have all this width in the nose up here, and then it kind of just gradually pulls back and then just accelerates a bit into this wider, rounded square tail.
You have a wider nose, wider point forward, and then it draws again gradually back into this cool squash tail. It’s just a little bit different and I guess a different take on the traditional fishes.
This board has an enormous amount of paddle power. I got this in 6’1, which is 6’1 x 21 x 2 7/8. It rounds out to about 42 liters if I’m not mistaken. Or just under 43 liters actually.
Some other things that they’ve done with the Channel Islands Mini that are cool. Channel Islands have made the rails a lot more sensitive. Some of those traditional twin fin fishes that you see with the big swallow tails and things like that, often times they have these really fat rails. Those rails are great for driving through mush and things like that, but they did loose a lot of sensitivity. Often times I felt that I couldn’t move the board around as much as I wanted to.
This board, while there is a lot of foam throughout the board, you can see that the foil, the distribution of foam is generous throughout the board. It’s got a lot of thickness running from tip to tail, but it does have those lower, more sensitive rails. It also has a pretty cool knifey feeling nose.
The nose is noticeably thinner, which of course you’d expect it to be. It also feels in the rails they kind of pulls in and just feels a lot kind of shape, and more precise. The old school fishes, you might feel a little bit limited. With this board, I didn’t feel that limited.
The point of this board is again to be a modernized take on the traditional fish. It’s really meant to be the groveler in your quiver.
This is the board that you take out when you’re surfing smaller, knee to head high waves. Little bit less push. You take your smaller, your more Summer-esque conditions. It’s meant to have a little bit more versatility than those traditional fishes.
It does have a very flat rocker. A continuous rocker but just a touch of rocker in the nose and then just a little bit off the tail as well. It’s a very flat board. A very fast board. It also features a single concave through that very wide center.
The front of the board and then it comes down to a more pronounced double concave here. It’s not a huge double. For some boards, grovelers especially… and I’m thinking of the Firewire Sweet Potato that have a spine running through here. It’s not that pronounced. That, I think, is helpful when you’re really trying to push the board through turns.
There is quite a lot of bulk and thickness and width through the tail. So if I were to say the one thing that I found a little bit challenging was really pushing that tail through turns. You could get it to break free, but you really had to really push my back foot to through turns to get it to release.
If you’re one of those people that likes the idea of the traditional type of fish, but you are worried about some of the drawbacks that some of those old school designs had this could be a really good option for you.
I think this the type of board that you get as your grovelers and the thing that you surf down when it’s just tiny and weak. You could really enjoy this board because it’s not as limiting when you come up the surfing range as well.
Experience in the Surf
I did surf this right after I got it. I surfed it up the coast at favorite beach break of mine. The day that I surfed it, it was almost like a beach break turned into a point where it’s getting these really long, gradual lefts and rights. Some nice long running walls. It was probably about shoulder, even head high on sets and not really too hollow, but not really flat and weak either. There was a bit of period in the swell so it had a little bit more power in each wave.
I took off on a few waves with this board and I found right away that the ones that, the waves that I took off on that were really steep and throwing a bit faster I was struggling a little bit because it is such a wide outline, it is so flat. The couple of waves that I got into nice and early I was able to get down the line and it has a really nice settled flow to it.
It’s not the board I think you’re really going to throwing around and really digging it hard into the pocket. I think it’s intentionally meant to be more of a cruisy board.
Last weekend, I would say I had a stand out session on this board. It was on average waist to shoulder high with some occasional bigger sets. Really beautiful A framing, fast walls in both directions, even some little barrels breaking close to shore. Really beautiful beach break conditions: sun’s out, wind was offshore.
I looked at this board and I had a couple of other boards in the car that I could’ve taken out, but I wanted see how this would go in those slightly faster, steeper, more hollow waves. It was a little bit smaller so I was thinking it would be quite nice to have a bit more paddle power. I was able to stroke into those smaller waves but really get in nice and early.
I remember I was talking about how the nose profile helps this board to get you into waves that traditional fishes might struggle. With this Channel Islands MINI, I was able to get in nice and early, get in and dig nose to those faces, get a little pump, and I even got a few little cover ups.
I just had a fantastic surf on this board. I actually had one of the best surfs I’ve had in quite some time.
I also surfed this down in the really, really mushy knee high to thigh high range. I surfed a couple of weeks ago on a sub par, cross shore, weak wind swell, which is very typical of what we get around Sydney in the summer.
Because of the board has so much volume and it has so much float, I was able to get up and get going on these waves nice and easily. The thing just blows across flat sections. I did find that when I was really trying to push the board hard, I really had to dig my foot down to get it to release. Once it released, it would actually release pretty sharply. I just felt that I had to put quite a lot of force on the tail to get it to release, which could be a combination of the fin set up that I’ve gone with here as well as this wider, thicker tail.
Quite a few times I bounced around a bit with fins and I ended up gravitating towards what are becoming my go to everything fins, which are these new Futures Fins Haydenshapes HS1 Generation Series Fins. They have a bit of foil in them but they don’t have too much so they’re good at generating speed, but they aren’t just ballistic like the Blackstix. They still will handle a little bit of speed and a steeper face. I’ve got the complimenting Quad Rears in the back.
I had surfed a couple of sessions with a different fin setups and the board felt really swirly using that fin setup. I mean even paddling it, It just felt like the distribution of foam on the board is a little bit different where it’s like domed in the deck and it’s really steep in the rails. The board just felt a bit weird.
I thought I haven’t done it in a while, but I thought I would just chuck a little nubster in the back and I thought that made all the difference in the world. This fin setup with the little nubster in the back felt great.
Again, I keep saying I felt that it was a little challenging to break the board’s tail out through turns and things like that. Number one, this Channel Islands MINI isn’t really intended to be surfed radically. There’s that consideration, but also I’ve surfed this without the nub and with the smaller fins. I still felt that it was hard to break free.
The fin set up, if anything, I think helped me to control the board. Again, on that day that was steeper and more hollow, I think it was really, really nice to have a bit more fin in the water because I really felt like I could slot the board and make some micro tweaks to get the board in exactly how I wanted to when I was going into those little barrels and just staying in the right place and staying high on my line. So that fin setup, I thought, was great.
Overall, I think Channel Islands Surfboards do about a good a job as any manufacturer in nailing what the point of the board is on their website. Again, it’s just meant to be a tweaked modernized take on the the old school fish. It has those performance tweaks – the slightly lower rails, that knifier nose, the modern bottom concaves – that I think help to give this a more user friendly, more modern edge without losing too much of the benefits of the nice feel that you get from surfing those old school fishes. It’s a really cool, different model.
As a groveler, this board is just fantastic. To have this in your quiver for those really tiny days, but also to have it in the back of the car and know that if you see a day where the waves are a little bit better but maybe a little bit smaller and you want to get in early and still have blast. I think this board really would be great for that. I think this has a place in everybody’s quiver.
The tail, just the size and the width of it, I maybe could’ve gone down to a smaller size and would have had a little bit more release. If you look at the size of the tail, you look at the size of the outline, it’s just not meant to be thrown around that much. While I could get the tail to release and break free when I really put my feet, a lot of pressure around the tail.
I don’t really think that’s the point of the board, but that would be my one critique of it. Other than that, I think it’s a great little groveler option. Super fun in summer and smaller swells, but again had a little bit more versatility.
That is the Channel Islands Mini Surfboard. Hope you dug the review. Of course if you haven’t already, subscribe because we have a whole load of cool stuff coming up soon. I will speak to you again next week.
Stock Standard Dimensions & Volume
Standard Channel Islands Mini Surfboard Dimensions & Volumes available at the Channel Island Surfboards website:
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