If you’re an established surfer in the market for a new shortboard, deciding which model to go for can be a bewildering choice. Getting hands-on with a selection of different models is always the best option, but if you don’t have access to a decent surf shop that stocks a wide range of boards, then the internet is usually your only option.
Fortunately, the internet is awash with board reviews such as this one and you can usually find detailed information from the manufacturer on the optimum conditions and skill level required for each of their boards. Once you’ve decided on a model, picking the best board dimensions for you can also be a tough decision. If you’re unsure, it’s well worth checking out a selection of online board volume calculators, such as this one from Pyzel (opens in new tab), to help you get it right.
Here we put the Pyzel Phantom through its paces. It's a shortboard that's easy to ride and well suited to weaker British waves; read on to find out what we thought about it. Alternatively, check out our guide to the best surfboards for beginners.
- Jump into our beginner’s guide to surfing
- Hit the water with the best inflatable paddle boards
- ... or the best paddle boards for beginners
Pyzel Phantom surfboard review: specs
Lengths: 5’6”, 5’7”, 5’8”, 5’9”, 5’10, 5’11, 6’0”, 6’1”. 6’2”, 6’3”, 6’4”, 6’6”
Board type: Performance shortboard
Tail shape: Squash
Fin system: FCS II or Futures
Construction: PU core and fibreglass finish
Suitable for: Intermediate to expert
Wave range: 2 to 7ft
Pyzel Phantom surfboard review: design
Designed by Californian shaping wizard, Jon Pyzel, in conjunction with back-to-back World Surf League world title winner, John-John Florence, the Phantom forms part of a three-board range that share the same DNA. Ridden by Florence in his two world titles, the Ghost is designed for the most powerful, hollow waves, the Phantom is a step down in performance but works in a wider range of conditions, then finally the Gremlin, which is made for smaller, softer waves.
With UK waves being a touch weaker than many other parts of the surfing world (due to the continental shelf surrounding much of our coastline), the Pyzel Ghost is a board most British surfers will only dig out on days when the waves are seriously pumping. However, with much better wave catching abilities, the Phantom is well very suited to the majority of conditions we get here in the UK.
All three boards share a similar outline, but the Ghost’s is the most refined and carries minimal width and bulk throughout, the Phantom is a little wider and thicker, while the Gremlin has the widest and heaviest dimensions.
Comparing dimensions of all three boards in the range, a standard 5’9” Ghost measures 18 7/8” wide x 2 3/8” thick with a volume of 26l, a Phantom is 19 ¼” x 2 7/16” and 28.6l, while a Gremlin is 20” x 2 ½” and 32.5l. As well as regular stock dimensions, along most other Pyzel boards, the Phantom also comes in XL dims which are slighter wider and thicker.
The Phantom has the same low front rocker as the Ghost, which is continuous through the board and deepens into a decent amount of tail rocker for easy entry on steeper waves. Tail-wise, the Ghost has a rounded pin, while the Phantom has a squash tail which helps loosen it up through turns and gives a wider surface area that helps generate speed. A deep single concave runs through the middle of the board to help give lift and drive which turns into a more subtle double concave between the fins.
Pyzel Phantom surfboard review: performance
We had great conditions for our first time testing the Phantom – three to four foot, open-faced, fairly steep, crowd-free waves. Paddling it, you immediately notice that the nose is quite pulled in, but with lots of foam packed under your chest it moves through the water well. With the waves packing a bit of punch and the easy paddling of the Phantom, it was easy to casually stroke into our first wave. Once up and riding, the board felt totally natural, like something we’d been riding for years rather than just a few seconds.
Despite its under-chest girth, the Phantom is extremely nimble, easy to manoeuvre and has tons of speed and drive. Pyzel seem to have found the ideal sweet spot that combines easy wave catching with superb wave riding performance. We’ve now ridden the Phantom in a range of varied wave conditions from weak and waist-high, to overhead, fast and hollow. It’s performed well in all these conditions, but it really comes alive in slightly better than average to good waves.
Pyzel Phantom surfboard review: durability
Pyzel’s headquarters are based in California, but there are licenced shapers in several regions around the world. Our 5’9” board came direct from Ocean Magic (opens in new tab) in Newquay and was shaped by Nigel Semmens, a shaper of 40 years and a former British title winning pro surfer. Our test board has a polyurethane core (PU) with a traditional fibreglass finish.
The board in its traditional construction is very well made and impressively damage resistant – it’s still in perfect condition after several months of use. As well as making stock boards, Ocean Magic build custom boards to order, which allows you to add colours and designs as well as tweaking board dimensions, fin box types and other options. Imported Pyzel boards are also available in epoxy.
Pyzel Phantom surfboard review: verdict
Combining a versatile and forgiving nature with a lively, fast and responsive feel, the Phantom is a truly awesome choice for the vast majority of waves we encounter here in the UK. While it works really well as a standalone board, combine it with a Gremlin, a Ghost, or both for an unbeatable all-condition quiver that has a familiar feel shared by all three boards to make transitioning between them super easy.
While the Phantom is an excellent choice for surfers with a few years or more of shortboard riding under their belts, the Gremlin is probably a better starting point for less experienced surfers. They could eventually look to move up to the Phantom, or keep one in their quiver for those days when the waves are properly firing.