There are nose riders and then there are, well, nose riders. Jimmy Lewis, being the toes over aficionado he is, obviously knows a thing or two about designing boards for old school styling. It’ll come as no surprise that the JL Black&Blue 9.6ft is a pure thoroughbred nose rider – and in fact the purest of this type of board we’ve tested to date.
Out of the box and it’s a familiar looking board to the naked eye when gazing at the deck – its seemingly all round shape telling all secrets. There’s a quality pad that runs from nose to tail – something you don’t often see these days. Flip the B&B over, however, and it’s a different story. A simple single fin protrudes from the tail and there’s an odd looking scoop dug out from under the nose. Pick the board up and it feels super light – even with that full deckpad. You’ll also notice thinned out 50/50 rails and stripped out tail volume. All in all it’s a pure bred shape, under the microscope, and our caps are doffed in Jimmy’s direction because of this.
Paddling out, we were surprised how stable the Black&Blue is – even at 28” wide. Paddlers will need to be aware of chop and foam as there’s not a great deal of rocker up front – a complete contrast to the tail – and this could trip SUPers up if standing too far forward when going for the catch.
During our testing we had small, waist high clean waves. They weren’t perfect but it gave us a platform to feel the board in motion and showed how easy it was to catch waves with very little effort.
Those that have ridden nose rider surfboards will know the feeling of being locked into a wave, cruising rather hitting Mach 10 shortboard speeds – certainly true on the Black&Blue. With its single fin and tail rocker jammed in, this board makes you feel like you’re part of the wave rather than having to race each section. Gliding along its line is sublime – drawn out arced turns, preparing to move in soul arch mode, is where it’s at with the Black&Blue.
As soon as you’ve dropped in and set your rail, it’s time to start edging towards the front. Stepping forwards with positive but sensitive footwork until you’re in the zone gets you hanging, but be ready to reverse step and add some sweeping drop knee carves to do it all again.
We mentioned the scooped out underside nose; it’s when hanging fives or 10s that this design trait comes into play. Acting like a vacuum, it traps air between wave and board which gives a cushioning/floating effect. It literally feels like you’re riding a magic carpet at top speed – if you step off the gas then it doesn’t quite work and instead results in pearling.
The Jimmy Lewis Black&Blue 9.6ft is, as always with Jimmy Lewis gear, a well made board with a high end finish and distinctive look. Designed for those who love to get five and 10 toes over, with the odd swooping carve thrown in for good measure, it rewards paddlers who sweep in clean conditions and would especially be at home styling it on some clean smooth faces with defined take offs. If you’re an aspiring stylemeister and yearn for a tool that fits your mentality, look no further. Check out the JL 10.2ft version if you’re a bigger boned rider or want even more glide.
Price: £1200 – incl. bag