Designed for dynamic surfing in gutless conditions, the Vulcan Surfboards Arctail is a little speed racer. Sporting a modern planing hull design, this board is a delight on flatter face waves.
What a treat! In this Vulcan Surfboards Arctail Review we’re going to delve into the making of this Vulcan Arctail and how this board may be the one to get all of you modern planing hull fence sitters over the line.
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All the best,
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Synopsis of the Vulcan Arctail Surfboard Review
It’s short. It’s wide. It’s a little bit modern planing hull but may appeal to the traditional shortboard / fish surfer’s sensibilities with it’s pointier nose template.
What We Rode
Benny rode the Vulcan Surfboards Arctail at a custom 6′ 1″, 20 and 3/4, 2 and 13/16 at around 38 to 40 litres. He used the split keel FCS II fins, just the same Dane Hantz specifically used for the board and they did work quite well for him.
Standard Vulcan Surfboards Arctail dimensions and volumes may be found at the bottom of this page.
Best Wave Type
The Vulcan Arctail Fish is meant to be a small wave, little speed racer. The waves that I think worked best with this board, it’s got such a big wide outline, it definitely liked flatter face waves.
- The Arctail Fish is a unique board with a wide outline, a hybrid between Vulcan Surfboards, planing hull performance and fish outline.
- It has a rounded tail for speed and stability.
- The Arctail features a neutral balance (as Dane calls it) with volume of the board equally distributed on either side of the center of gravity for a sure footed feel.
- The fishier outline in combination with that nice, thinner Arctail feels really lively and snappy in the surf.
- Works well as a quad or thruster.
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Hey, this is Ben. Welcome to Benny’s Boardroom. This is the Arctail by none other than Dane Hantz of Vulcan Surfboards. Dane is one of my favourite shapers. He’s an awesome guy in general, he’s a bit of a mad scientist. He’s a very, very clever guy. When you start talking to him about boards he goes off into hydrodynamic theory, and physics, and talking about a lot of things that shapers don’t generally engage in conversation with.
Dane’s boards are really hard to get down in Australia, so I was super excited to be able to test out one of his designs again.
Now, the Arctail is intended to meld the modern planing hull theories, so if you think about the Archetype that we did a review on a while back, those chopped-nose square nose looking boards that Dane does that are awesome, but for people who can’t get their head around the chopped nose yet, this board is intended to take the modern planing hull design and put it into the template and outline of a more fish design looking board.
The Arctail Fish is meant to be a small wave, little speed racer. The waves that I think worked best with this board, it’s got such a big wide outline, it definitely liked flatter face waves.
Experience in the Surf
I took it into a couple waves that were steeper face, and there’s just too much width in the outline, so I liked it in those flatter face days. It didn’t mind a bit of mush, but because the boards with this construction are so light, they do bounce around a little bit, so I find the smaller, flatter, cleaner days, a lot of the days that we get around Australia in the summer in the mornings, where you have a light offshore, weaker wind swell that’s flatter faced, and usually in the shoulder to waist high region. This board loved those conditions, but as soon as you got into windier wind chop conditions or more hollow conditions, the outline’s not meant to be necessarily put into those types of waves.
We’ve covered in the last two reviews we did of Vulcan boards of the Archetype and the Full Yellow Jacket, we talked about this super interesting, very defining characteristic of his stringerless design, where he puts these carbon rails around the rails of the board, and again, this is meant to give it very precise flex patterns throughout the board. That’s one thing that I noticed right away. It still has with this construction, still has that really snappy, crisp feel when you push it into a turn, whereas with some other boards you might get up, do your turn, and you have to gain your acceleration again. These boards actually spring and fire you out of those turns, so there’s a really pronounced springy effect to having those rails laid out that way.
Like most of Dane’s Vulcan surfboards, the Arctail has what Dane calls a neutral balance.
What that means is he’s placed the volume in such a way that it’s evenly balanced on either side of your centre of gravity. What that’s intended to do, when you look throughout the board and you look throughout the foil and how he’s distributed the foam, when you’re sitting on the board and your centre of gravity’s over a certain point in the board, he wants it to be distributed evenly so that has a stable and connected feel.
Having ridden his modern planing hull design, and I’m very okay with the chopped off nose look of the modern planing hull designs now, I’ve ridden many of them and I actually love the way they surf, but I do appreciate this smooth, curvy, more fishy outline that he has, especially as it pertains to this awesome little Arctail, which is where the board obviously gets its name. That comes back into this nice, wide but very thin tail. You can see that Arctail loses a lot of the volume of the board, and that tail complements the board very well, especially when you’re trying to pump and get speed in those weaker, flatter faced, lower period waves. I found the tail felt really quite driving everything.
Worked well in combination with these fins too. I think these split keel FCS II fins … Dane specifically chose these fins for the sport. I didn’t actually mess around with the fins too much in this, cause these seemed to work quite well, and Dane generally knows way more about what works than I do, so I just stuck with that.
My Arctail is a custom. It’s 6′ 1″, 20 and 3/4, 2 and 13/16. Don’t know exactly what the volume is, but it’d probably sit around 38 to 40 litres.
So in smaller, flatter faced waves, the Arctail I thought excelled. It generates an enormous amount of speed. It accelerates really quickly. The fishier outline in combination with that nice, thinner Arctail feels really lively and snappy. Again, I think this signature stringerless carbon rail that Dane puts on some of his boards, I think that really complement as well.
Vulcan Surfboards Arctail Summary
Now, I will say, with this board, I actually thought that I would have liked to have tried one of his regular poly boards, more because I just haven’t ridden one of his poly boards and I think maybe for this outline, in this type of board, I think that that construction would have gone quite well, again because you might be surfing this type of board in your mushier conditions, and the one thing about these boards which is great is that they’re super, super light, but the one thing that’s not so great is that they’re super, super light. So when they hit chop and everything, they tend to bounce around a little bit more. I think I might have actually liked to have tried one of his boards without this signature carbon stringerless rails that Dane puts on.
Another thing about the stringerless construction as well, one thing with this board, which was dissimilar to the other boards I’ve ridden of Dane’s in the past, and this could be because I haven’t been surfing as much lately, I’ve got two little kids now, so I don’t get much time to surf anymore. I think I found it more difficult to find this sweet spot on this board than some of Dane’s other boards.
Now, when I was surfing in those easier, lower weak period swells, where literally you just have a little bit of energy pushing behind you, this was great. It would pick up, it would take off. It was really fun to surf in those types of waves. But I found once the takeoffs got a little bit more critical and it got a little bit more challenging, I did find that I had a little bit more trouble finding the sweet spot on this board. I don’t know if it has anything to do with there’s less surface area here to put your feet, or if it’s just the construction of the board, but that’s the only thing that I noticed about this versus some of the other Vulcan surfboards I’ve ridden.
If you’re interested to ride one of Dane’s modern planing hull designs, I highly recommend you do, but if you can’t get across the chopped-nose, this board would be a great transition. It borrows some of the elements of the modern planing hull theories that Dane works with, but it also goes in this more conventional fishy shape, so it’s a great all-around small-width board, again for me, waist to shoulder high, flatter face waves, and a little bit cleaner. It was perfect in those conditions.
That is the Vulcan Surfboards’ Arctail review. Hope you enjoyed it and I’ll speak to you again soon.
Stock Standard Dimensions & Volume
Standard Vulcan Surfboards Arctail Dimensions & Volumes available at the Vulcan Surfboards website: