When you have one the best selling boards from one the best selling surfboard manufacturers, you've got the Flyer by Channel Islands. The Flyer was designed to be an every man's shortboard for small to medium conditions. For the most part, it lives up to its intended design. Overall, the board struggles in small and mushy conditions but excels in medium to overhead conditions. The Flyer seems to be a good option for those getting into shortboarding or those needing a steady, reliable board in good conditions.
Dimensions & Material
We tested the 6'1"H x 18 3/4"W x 2 1/4"T Tuflite model. Tuflite is lighter and more buoyant than your standard Polyurethane/fiberglass board, giving a boost when paddling.
The bottom is a single, shallow entry concave that fades to a flat tail. The shallow entry concave does a good job providing stability without sacrificing too much performance.
The tail has a subtle bump at the rails which provides an steeper transition to the tail. This slightly narrower tail injects performance into the wider deck by allowing sharper turns through the tail. The Tuflite model that we tested out dampened the bump but the end result was the same. We tested the squash tail but note that the Flyer also comes in swallow tail.
The nose follows your standard performance shortboard nose but with a low to moderate rocker. The Tuflite model that we tested made the nose slightly fuller compared to polyurethane model.
The Flyer has down turn rails with soft edges, while fading into harder edges on the tail. Again the Tuflite gave the rails softer edges. You might be able to squeeze out a little more performance from the polyurethane model than the Tuflite model.
We tested the 3, FCS System, fin Flyer but you can also get the Flyer in quad.
The wide body of the Flyer coupled with the buoyancy of Tuflite made for easy paddling.
Catching chest to overhead waves seemed almost like a guarantee. The Flyer is very stable at take-off and on drops. If you surf very lully conditions, the Flyer will make every wave feel comfortable no matter how long you've waited between sets. This board is also great in crowded lineups, where the margin for error is slimmer than the space between the surfers paddling for the wave. However, waves smaller than chest high were much more difficult to catch. Add mushy conditions, and it was borderline impossible. The Tuflite seemed to hurt the board in this area, where the extra buoyancy made it difficult to drop into smaller waves. The Flyer worked best in moderate speed, point and beach breaks.
The Flyer, simply put, is an excellent board to ride. In chest+ conditions the board flowed through the water effortlessly with enough stability to boost your confidence beyond your surfing ability. Sharp turns and snaps were easily executed without much or any resistance. The wide body, coupled with the Tuflite made for stable floaters, which worked well to link sections. In overhead condition, big turns and snaps are just as straightforward but you'll need to apply more pressure on your back foot. Going airborne is just as easy. The insanely light Tuflite material gave us a little extra hang time, which is always a plus. In smaller conditions, the board struggled to keep afloat in the wave. We had to put a lot of effort just to keep us in the wave. In this case, the Tuflite seemed to hurt the board as it made the board too buoyant for the smaller conditions.
The only downside on the ride is pumping. The board doesn't generate as much speed for each pump as other performance shortboards. You'll still be able to generate plenty of speed but if you have to quickly link sections in mushier conditions, the Flyer may struggle. In this case, the quad version may be an interesting option. Although we didn't get a chance to test out the quad version, the quad model appears to be a better small wave board than the thruster.
If you want a high wave count in good chest+ conditions while still being able to "shred the gnar", you can't go wrong with the Flyer. This board balances performance and stability. The Flyer also makes a great option for those making the plunge into a full fledge shortboard. Unfortunately, the Flyer falls short in smaller or less than good conditions. We recommend getting the Flyer in Polyurethane to help maximize the performance, which may also help in smaller conditions. Also keep in mind that Merrick/Channel Islands name also comes with a steeper price tag. But then again, what price are you willing to pay to catch good waves?