When Stretch was here in Cape Hatteras last Summer he seemed to be a man possessed with this new surfboard he was talking about called “The WHAT”. Every day we were at the beach, it didn’t matter what the waves looked like, he was claiming a What would be a good board for the day. As always, he got us to order a few (watch out if you like new boards, if you spend any time with Stretch, you’ll have a few on the way faster than you can sneeze!).
The shape of “The What” reminds you of a longboard with the middle 3-4 feet cut out. Looks aside, this board is fully shortboard at heart and handles a wide range of conditions, making the most of softer days. It is wide with a fully rounded nose, flatter entry rocker, and foiled rails. This gets you into the wave fast and gives you plenty of horsepower under your feet.
Stretch says the flatter entry rocker and wider nose do just as much if not more for easier wave catching than just going with a “bigger board” like most people do. The flatter entry rocker pushes less water and the wider nose catches waves easier and glides across flats with more speed. Stretch’s “love handles”, ie. the thumb width grooves along the rail, add strength, tune flex and give you a rock solid grip on your board during critical duck dives.
Tail shape can be tailored to the surfer with round tail, swallow and bat being the most popular. Wings, either single or double allow a larger width forward to be brought down to a manageable tail size and also add more curve to the outline in the back of the board. This allows the board to really pivot sharply at the end of the turn.
All the boards we received were built with Stretch’s industry leading “EPS Tech” construction. The bottom line here is that this is the best construction for blending strength, to performance, to durability that we have ever surfed. EPS Tech has great flex right out of the box, but doesn’t go flat after time. The board you turn today feels exactly the same three months later. The 2lb Marko EPS Foam combined with Resin Research epoxy resin and Stretch’s unique glass layup produce an extremely strong, responsive and dent resistant board, that has the right feel in the water and the turns, with a light, but not too lightweight. This eliminates the “chatter” associated with other epoxy type boards, but still takes advantage of their better durability and float.
The Marko Foam just by itself is more durable and resistant to denting. Stretch described a test they do with dropping a round weight on the board from high up. The Marko 2lb Foam would not dent at all, when PU blanks already had substantial dents in them. (Think of your knees and feet being these weights, and it is easy to see why these boards hold up so much better over time). Strength can be added at every step in the construction process, this is just the first step. All of Stretch’s team riders use this construction and get a much longer life from their boards. This, combined with the added performance the entire way through their lifespan justifies the additional expense more than enough.
Small or soft waves and quads are a great mix. For some of us, this was the first quad we had ever surfed. All of us agreed that the quad was significantly faster down the line, both frontside and backside, in all conditions. It was also great on late drops, giving you extra fin hold in the water on a more vertical face. This is because you have two fins in the water rather than just 1on a twin fin, or 1 and a half on a thruster. The added speed turned un-makeable sections into makeable, and gave everyone a much better outlook on days that wouldn’t have stoked them out before.
Stretch designed The WHAT as a board that would supercharge soft, or unpredictable conditions. Whether it be beach-breaks or points, if it wasn’t perfect, and how often is it perfect ?, Pull out The What and have a blast ! Here is what our testers had to say about their new Stretch WHATs:
Sam Bell 5’10 x 175 lbs
“The Stretch What is an all around fun board… from knee high mush to head high clean lines. Fast down the line and snappy off the top. It feels like having a skateboard on water. After telling Stretch what I wanted he immediately changed it to what I have now. He took 4” inches off my order, telling me with the rounder nose and flatter entry rocker it would still be the easiest board for getting into waves, and a lot looser! At first I thought it would be too small. After the first session I was stoked. My What is 5’7 x 20.8” x 2.35” with a single wing swallowtail. I know if I show up to the beach with this board I will have fun no matter what the waves are like!”
Matt Nuzzo 5’11 x 170 lbs
“I got surprised with a new Stretch What for my birthday. The dimensions on my board are 5’10 x 20.5” with a winger swallowtail. I got it and said "What the hell is this thing?" I think that is most people's response until they surf them. My first session I was on a punchy waist to chest high day and the “What” killed it. The board seemed to be one step ahead of me. Since then I have surfed it in a lot smaller and a lot larger conditions, and the board always works.
The What looks wide and round at your first glance and this is probably why it works so well in gutless surf. At a second look you see that it is “foiled” like a shortboard, meaning a thin nose, tail and rails. This is what keeps the Stretch What in control when the surf gets more powerful. The range of this board blows my mind. I keep it in the truck 24/7 because I know it will always work. If you are looking for a specialty board that becomes your everyday board, the “What” is the choice.”
Trip Forman 6’2 x 225 lbs
“When Stretch threw out the dimensions of my new WHAT, I thought he was crazy. He said 6’2 x 23” x 2.7. The 23” width came out of his mouth just as easily as most shapers say 18” ! This board has definitely earned the seal of “REAL Big and Tall Certified” ! I’m definitely not small, and my small wave surfing is my worst game, normally having me have to resort to a longboard, giant fish or standup paddleboard. The WHAT has me out there on the smallest of days loving it. Being so short it, fits right in the roundest little OBX pockets and FLIES down the line with the ability to pump good speed.
The quad gives the speed benefits of a twin fin but with more “grip” in the wave and no spinouts on late drops. I have to say, that at my size and where I surf, I’m sold on the quad. It’s just faster, more confident and versatile than any other set up I have tried so far. And it makes sections I couldn’t make before, which here makes waves longer! I found the stock fin set up to lack a little juice so I upsized the forward fins to Future Rusty 454’s (large surfer sized). This gave me a lot more drive off the fins and even more speed. I went with a double wing roundtail. Stretch said this would be the best for throwing late, vertical turns for the lip hit. I can’t believe how fast the board reacts and turns when you want it to. The quad allows you to pump more speed off the tail, while the round nose gives you the glide and the ability to trim if you want to.
I have been surfing my WHAT for 6 months and the deck is in great shape, way, way, way better than what a PU board would look like by now. The EPS Tech construction gives the board really good float, performance and durability. The WHAT is a solid part of my quiver now and a small wave killer I’d take on any trip!”
REAL has a full selection of Stretch What’s on the rack and ready to surf, in sizes ranging from 5’8 x 20.5 x 2.4 ” up to 6’6 x 22.75 x 2.85”. We can also custom order your What with any dimensions and tail shape.
For more info or to find out which WHAT is right for you, give us a call toll free at 866-REAL-548 or 252-9897-6000.