Christenson Pahi Review
2 summers ago I snapped my favourite 6'6 single fin which i liked to ride when the waves were a bit bigger, since then I have been searching for a replacement. So when Chris Christenson - shaper of big wave boards and Dick Brewer protege' - was in town, I thought who better to grab a board from. His bigger wave board range is quite broad, with performance shapes like the Carrera and Water lion plus all the stuff that revisits the early days but adds a modern spin on the design. Im usually stuck in Sydney working when bigger swells arrive so, mostly have a few hours to Surf Tamarama in between shifts. Being a deep water bay, a lot of volume is needed to catch the sets when the swell is pushing 6ft and up. Because of this, the description of the Pahi caught my eye.
''Pahi is the Hawaiian word for knife. There is no better tool to have when challenging nature than a good knife. So in coming up with a utilitarian design for waves like Sunset beach, Chris could think of no better name than the Pahi. In its design, it is very much a step up/ semi-gun that blends the old and new contours to make a board that will handle some serious surf when need be.''
I decided on a 7'4 x 19 3/4 x 2 5/8 (For reference im 5'7 and 65kgs). I can really appreciate what was happening in the 70's on those longer single fins. The glide, control and paddle power is un-matched!
Ive had 5 surfs on the board so far this winter, in various conditions. Im using the Alkali Kidman / Parameter widow maker single fin, and this felt great.
After a pretty average start to Winter and a few surfs in less than quality conditions, finally a solid East swell was forecast on the maps - 6ft with the occasional 8fter - west winds lining up for the first 2 days, which were predicted to be the biggest of the swell. Thankfully that coincided with my days off, so i was able to spend plenty of time in the water.
Chris has really nailed this design and Im surprised at how much thickness the board carries up front then foils right out in the tail into a blade. The bottom features vee in the last 1/3 of the board for maximum control off the tail and a little bit of double concave in front of the fin box to flat vee behind the fin. It has an accentuated nose rocker, compared to other single fins I have surfed.
Im glad I jumped on the board prior to this swell arriving, even if the waves weren't pumping its nice to feel it out before riding anything a little more serious or good quality. You don't want to be wasting or blowing waves when its pumping because you don't know your equipment.
Firstly, catching waves felt like cheating. The paddle power this board offers is amazing. If you're down to sit and wait for the bombs, It could easily handle another few feet of swell on top of what was coming through, no problem. Because of this, paddling around in the foam on the inside suddenly becomes a lot easier too, as you're sitting above it rather than sinking into it.
The knifed out tail offers excellent control when coming off the bottom and the extra nose flip definitely helps with late take offs and eliminates the nose pearling if you're swinging at the last minute. High performance is out the window here so you're basically just enjoying the feeling of the drop and bottom turn/high line on the waves, if you're looking to do top to bottom turns in solid waves, this board is not for you. However, if you want to catch as many waves as possible with maximum paddle power, come off the bottom with control and a few high lines here and there, you're on the money with the Pahi.