In 2013 I dove into the world of paddle surfing – complete obsession. I hosted a podcast on the sport, produced two movies, started Blue Zone SUP retreats, and won 2 national championships. I dissected every technique and rode every board I could get my hands on. In 2017 life moved me from Costa Rica to the United States, cutting off my 6 hours of daily stoke. In Florida I longed for that connection to paddle surfing, a Portal home. I had long held the belief that the optimal board had yet to be designed and that was a goal big enough to get excited about – to design a board that blended high-line beauty with raw pocket performance. The models have changed, but the goal has remained the same, with each refinement getting closer and closer. Last year I released the Barra and feedback was incredible, but the board required an advanced skill set for footwork and I wanted to build a board that everyone could appreciate.
While the Barra missed for certain skill levels, the concept was proven, and the industry noticed. After releasing my Barra design video major brands borrowed aspects mentioned – futher confirming my work in testing and refinement.
The DNA of the Phantom is the Barra, but the spark that lit the path came from the LongBarra, a longboard hybrid model (and my second best seller), that glides from the middle but still rail turns devistatingly well in the pocket. Read the feedback on the LongBarra here. Extending the Barra rocker to accommodate a 9ft board allowed less precise footwork. Utilizing that find, and adding tail rocker and a different bottom contour shifted the footwork forward, shrinking the sweet spot under the front foot a bit, which is still plenty big, and opened up the tail. The result is a board that still turns great if you miss the back foot by a few inches.
We were almost there, a board in the middle of the Barra and LongBarra with a normal shortboard nose, but drawing out the rocker shrinking the outline lenthened the board. This added too much swing weight for top-to-bottom surfing, so rounding the nose and utilizing a special glass layup I solved for swing weight and that finished the Phantom.
The Phantom is years in the making and it is the closest board I’ve felt to my ideal, or form as Plato would call it. I’ve felt no need to design paddle boards since it’s release and probably won’t until I feel another design need. Below is feedback from surfers on the Phantom. – Erik
I have been surfing short SUPs pretty much since the beginning of the sport. Trying and testing top brands, mostly short board style shapes. Erik from Portal made me a 7’6 x 26 Phantom for my trip to CostaRica. It’s so different in every way from the boards I have been riding. The construction, the shape, the volume distribution, the step deck and materials. I am totally blown away by its impeccable performance. Smooth turns, holds easily a high surf, late drops and fast sections. Although I am a relatively small guy, I could easily tail-to-rail it like a short board in the faster sections. The step deck make it shine in the turns and faster maneuvers, as it sticks the rail into the wall. It is stable in the chop and although mine is only 80 litters, it has an impressive take off. Actually I could even have a fun session with it as a surfboard without the paddle.Ran Kalif – March, 2019
It has taken until now to get some real experience with the Phantom . I think I am in love.Carey Peabody – February 2019
The board loves to stick in the face of the wave and slices down the line and yet it also provides for solid, arcing turns. I’ve found that I can surf a high line and gently control the trajectory of the board with little effort. My bottom and top turns and cutbacks are better than ever – more confident and solid. I can surf more aggressively and confidently. So I feel like my level of surfing has taken a distinct step up. Totally stoked!
It’s been fun to see Erik test the Barra and see it’s influence into another great model in the Phantom. I think of the Phantom as the Barra’s more aggressive cousin with more bite, drive and power potential. I feel full confidence to stomp on the tail and fully engage the fins and rail off a bottom turn or through a top turn. At 200 lbs this is a huge plus for me in waves of consequence. The Phantom also likes to surf more in the pocket than the Barra which is great for hollower waves or waves with more punch.Chase Kosterlitz – March, 2019
Between the Barra, Phantom and long Barra, I have full confidence in my quiver no matter what the wave conditions are. Each board compliments the other in a way that makes me stoked for every session on a Portal Surf Design.
“If you are reading this, you are the resistance”Alex Phillips – March, 2019
What is unique about this board is an extension of what is unique about Portal. Against a backdrop of the standup industry that is geared towards annual production of “this years model” with hands in every paddle discipline, Portal stands out as the polar opposite, a boutique surf company. It shares its DNA with the surfer/shaper model that is the foundation of the roots side of the custom surfboard industry. Each model is designed by a life long surfer/designer who has a vision for a specific approach to surfing to be accessed through that model. Each model takes years of prototypes and tests to perfect, and once it reaches that point, it stands alone and for the great shapes, stands the test of time. For artists, striving to achieve that is what drives them. For Portal, the Phantom is likely to be one of those boards, and it surfs like Erik has spent a decade designing it.
I have surfed all of the major brands and a couple other custom designers. This board surfs better then anything else I have tried. It feels like the perfect marriage of power and flow.