Burton Skipjack Surf: End-of-Season Review

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Burton Skipjack Surf 148 at Caledon Ski Club

Burton Skipjack Surf: End-of-Season Snowboard Review

Here we are in early March and even though we just got a big dump of 25 cm (10 inches) of snow (and even more where the hills are), the long-term forecast is signaling the sad end to another great snowboard season. For this year of snowboarding I went in a new direction and tested out three Burton 2015/2016 model snowboards at the start of the season back in December:

  • Burton Skipjack Surf 148,
  • Burton Skipjack 152 and
  • Burton CK Nug 150.

I liked all three decks, but the Skipjack Surf just felt like it was going to be a lot of fun to ride, so that is the deck that I stuck with for the 2015/2016 snowboard season.

Here are my end-of-season thoughts on the 2016 Burton Skipjack Surf 148.

Living in Ontario, this powder board never really got a chance to shine or show off its true lineage. Nonetheless, I put it through its paces with nearly 30 days of riding on primarily nicely groomed hardpack conditions.

A Big Change Compared to the Burton Custom X

As a bit of background, I will start off by saying that for the past nine or 10 seasons I have been riding the latest models of the Burton Custom X (156). While that is a great board, I was getting a little bored with it and decided it was time to check out a unique shape and new board style this year, hence the move to the Skipjack Surf. This deck caught my eye with its fishtail style and great graphics. I outfitted the board with my favourite Burton Genesis EST bindings (in the awesome Darkwood pattern) and I was off to the races.

Burton Skipjack Surf on Snow

With a flat top deck, fishtail design and wider nose area (relative to the rest of the deck), the Skipjack Surf presents a few challenges on hardpack groomed runs. Once you account for these, however, this board is a whole lot of fun to ride.

Immediate Challenges of a Fishtail

Riding this board was going to be very different than what I was used to, but that was the whole point. It made it more challenging for me, as I had to adjust my riding style to master this board — especially in groomed hard pack conditions.

On my very first run with the Skipjack Surf it didn’t take long for me to discover the first thing that I needed to address. First of all, the head of this board is pretty wide and the back end of the fishtail is tapered and much thinner than a typical twin board. So on my first run I caught an edge on the fat head and — bam — down I went. This wider nose area was going to be unforgiving on groomed snow, so out came the handy file and I detuned the head of the Skipjack Surf to make it a little more forgiving on groomed conditions. I figured that this wouldn’t make any difference with respect to performance if I were to ride this board in powder (since the nose would be floating and not like to catch an edge in powder), so I was pretty comfortable with that fix (which worked like a charm).

On to the next challenge that I had to overcome.

The Fishtail Lives Up to its Name

One of the biggest differences between the Skipjack and the Skipjack Surf — other than the cool rubber grips on the Surf (which are there so that you can try to ride it without bindings) and the length of the board — is that the Surf is a flat-top deck and the Skipjack has camber.

I have never ridden a flat top before and — wow — you really notice it.

With no camber, this board really does fishtail. It is most noticeable when you glide off of a lift and do a J-turn (the rear of the board tends to fishtail out). It also makes skating a bit more of a challenge because the board tends to fishtail away from you and you have to work harder to use the edge to push along. But all of this just added to the challenge of this deck on groomed slopes.

So those were the two most noticeable differences that I found in riding this board. It is also the shortest board I have ever ridden at 148 cm. I kind of like the shorter board and having my back foot positioned close to the back end of the deck. Again, since this is a powder board, I imagine this design will ensure that the fat front is kept up on top of the snow when riding deep powder conditions. Your stance on this board is not centred, but is offset towards the back of the board by quite a bit.

Thankfully the fishtail has just enough rise that you can ride switch on this deck, but its not something I did on a regular basis because there isn’t much edge bit when you’re leading with the back of the board.

Graphics on the Burton Skipjack Surf

The graphics on the top sheet and bottom of the deck are pretty abstract, but the colours are vibrant and this board definitely attracts attention.

This Board Gets Attention

After a couple of times riding the Burton Skipjack Surf I was pretty comfortable with my adjusted riding style and I have to say that I had more fun riding this year than I have in a long time. On top of that, the board’s unique fishtail style and vibrant graphics attract attention. Without fail, every single time I was out this season at least one person commented on the board or asked questions about it. So this one is definitely an attention getter that still delivers when it comes to on-hill performance.

All-in-all the Burton Skipjack Surf is a lot of fun and I can only imagine how much more fun it would be in a deep powder situation. This one is definitely a keeper.

Mike Belobradic