Learn Stretch’s thoughts and guidelines on how to order dims for sizing up from your daily driver. You’ll need that extra little bit sooner or later. How much extra? Which model? What dims?

Here’s 5 questions and 5 answers from the cigar toting man massaging the foam on your next board


“What’s the difference between a “step up” and a “semi-gun”

A step up is basically your daily driver model with the same width, 1-2″ extra length and an added 1/8″ to 1/4″ thickness. This is the board you want when all you are really looking for is a little more paddle power.

A “semi-gun” is for when you want more paddle but you also want to draw slightly longer lines. They should be ordered 3″ to 6″ longer with the same width as your daily driver shortboard and the added thickness as well.

“Does construction matter when ordering a step up or semi-gun?”

Of course! Construction and how it integrates into the overall board design process is key. All CFT constructions are aimed at utilizing a combination of various foam densities, stringer and glassing lay-ups all with the goal of achieving the best performance characteristics for any given situation. The step up’s and semi-guns are all CFT medium or heavy builds as well as PU cores because of how the flex response, damping properties and greater overall mass will alter flex and provide better control.

The legacy construction option in your step up or semi-gun is awesome because it allows for flex and vibration damping. The cork acts as a way to slow the cyclical rate so chatter is reduced as it translates from water’s surface through the board and to your feet. Everyone always had this idea that eps and/or epoxy was no good for anything other than lightweight small wave boards. The right foam and the right glassing matrix make all the difference. That’s where CFT comes in to play.

Obviously, you wouldn’t want to order CFT light in your 6’10” but you can order with PU blank or adjust the cloth lay-up or take deck channels out to get your own personal feel for where you will want to be surfing. Wiggolly for instance doesn’t do deck channels on most of his boards and likes CFT medium construction for his small wave and daily duty models. He’ll get a bit heavier lay-up than CFT medium when he gets into his step up’s. His preference for flex and his strong legs are a personal thing. If you’re more of a flicky or light footed kind of surfer then having that same construction might not give you the best flex response and would feel stiff under you in the same conditions.

“What tail template is best for a step up?”

We do a lot of variations of tail templates but when it comes to step up’s they are really what you would ride in your normal board. If you surf a round pin for your daily driver then it’s natural that you would get one in your step up. Some guys don’t like the idea of not being able to feel the end of their rail line and will want to stick with a squash or swallow and that’s totally fine. Step up’s give you that extra umph so that you aren’t missing waves go by because you don’t have the platform underneath you to get in. They should feel natural when you surf them as if you didn’t miss a beat.

The semi-gun model on the other hand got a redesign for last season. Wiggolly rode it at Pipe as did Koa Smith and Bruce Irons. The paddle power and the control they were able to get was the confidence inspiring traits that semi-guns are known for but the adjustments in foil and outline still put it in a category of their own. The current version has a slightly wider tail outline than the previous so that it can accommodate both a quad and a tri set up yet is still meant to draw a longer arc with control. The shortened rail line allows you to turn the board from further up and reduces the amount of surface area and effort needed to engage the rail into the wave face. It’s also got different bottom contours that allow you to harness speed and power rather try to create it.

The semi-gun model is a round pin by default. The continuous rail line compliments the way the semi-gun is designed to be ridden. It’s a racey foil back there and is wider than a dedicated thruster semi-gun for sure but still has a lot of curve from the outline and rocker. You’ll want to add a fair amount of thickness because of how foiled it gets in the rear end. 2.7″ to 2.8″ thick may seem like a lot for a 6’8″ that’s under 19″ wide but it won’t look like it. You can still order a swallow or squash or diamond but you’ve got to want that feeling of what’s happening out the back. Semi-guns are meant to be able to go fast and handle it.

“What fins should i use in my step up or semi-gun?”

The idea of the step up is to have a natural feeling that translates into larger surf. Your normal fins will work fine but depending on conditions, you can size down in fins. Stretch template fins have a tendency to just work in a broad range of wave types because of the high aspect ratio full tip factor as well as the custom foil and cross sections that allow the water to flow and release. If the surf is absolutely roping and buttery then you can get away with a smaller sized template (example 4.375″ down to 4.25″). If you want that extra grip because you get an easy roll in (remember that increased paddle power?) and you want some traction when laying over hard through open face cutbacks then that’s totally fine too. Your normal fins will do the trick. Just keep in mind that the faster you go, the less surface area you will need so as you step up your board you can also step down your fins.

The quad configuration for larger waves has the notion of more powerful surf already built in. The front pair is positioned the same yet the quad rear pair has a slightly modified toe angle which helps to deliver more stability and drive at increased speeds similar to what is seen on our towboards and guns. By using your existing fins or a size smaller, you’ll be all set.

“I still can’t decide on model and dims. Is it weird to do something different?”

It’s obvious that not all of us are round pegs trying to fit into a square hole. Nathan’s north shore quiver last season consisted of buzzsaw sk8’s as step up’s. Needless to say, Nathan isn’t one to follow trends and his daily driver buzzsaw sk8 is only 5’6″. His personal preference, comfort level and expertise is what puts him into a category of his own. His quiver of buzzsaw sk8 step up’s may easily be considered as “expert only”.

Even still, scaled down buzz guns, modified swords, things, 2×4’s or any other model that has a performance base platform to work off is capable of becoming a “step up” in some regard. Generally speaking, from the existing model line, the flatter the wave face and transition, the more likely that a 2×4 would work best for your step up. The rounder and hollower waves prefer the additional rocker and narrower tail of the sword. The most important thing  to consider is the amount of rocker. Various models can be made into step up’s but the rocker is what determines how well it will work for you in the waves you’ll be surfing it in.

CFT isn’t just a construction method but rather a system of providing individually custom made surfboards to you. The beauty of building something custom is that it can be as yours to be ridden just the way you want. Contact to see for yourself.

Check out Nathan’s buzzsaw sk8 quiver on surfline

Learn more about Koa Smith’s 2×4’s in Mexico


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koa smith’s 2×4 in CFT legacy construction is 5’8″ x 18.5″ x 2.3″. his step up 2×4 is 6’0″ x 18.625″ x 2.4″ PU/epoxy round pin. any guess as to which 2×4 he’s riding here? photo: Jason Kenworthy



wiggolly’s quiver consists of various tweaks to his sword model dims in order to make a “step up” version including the added length and tail template mod’s from his daily driver 5’11”. can you spot the “step up” models from the “semi-gun” models here?


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Nathan and Stretch scoping the 2014/2015 north shore quiver of buzzsaw sk8’s from daily driver to step up and semi-gun sizing. photo: billy watts