Campbell Brothers Bonzer 5 HPSB “Chile Model” – Board Review

Inspired by this Case Study on Surfy Surfy, this is the first custom Campbell Brothers board I’ve ever ordered.  I’ve wanted to get a custom from Malcolm for sometime but something else would always come up.  All the stars aligned this past winter and I was finally able to place an order.

The difference between the Chile model and the Contemporary/Shelter model is that the Chile model takes some cues from the Mini Merk by adding a wider and fuller beak nose.  Otherwise it is not as full as the Mini Merk and has more rocker.  I also specified mine to have foiled out rails.

The board is glassed in the standard Surfy glassing of 5S on both sides with a Volan deck patch.  I never specified what blank but the board feels super light for being a PU/PE with Volan.  The sides are glassed on and I ended up going with the black Hexcore center fin from True Ames.  Since I’m pretty uninformed about paint mixing I wanted to go with a gold color since that is a color you rarely see on surfboards.  It turns out that is not done because it is a really hard color to mix up.  JP suggested a brown/gold that came out pretty awesome.  The coolest thing about it is that the color turns depending on lighting without looking like a fishing lure (which is a bad thing for obvious reasons).  One of the erBBers described this as the Rusty Nail.  Love it.

No logos on deck for stealthy 70s feel and to show off the Volan deck patch

Went with a now-for-something-completely-different logo placement on the bottom

The first thing I noticed on this board besides the aforementioned lightness was how “right” it felt under the arm.  Besides some of my more esoteric boards lately my customs have been feeling just perfect under the arm.  I’d like to say this is from me being a more informed consumer but I think it is more due to the fact that I’ve been working with some amazing shapers.  I got this board for better waves and I was lucky that we were smack dab in the middle of a firing swell when I picked up the board.  I’m not going to lie though, my first two sessions were disappointing and I have no idea why since the waves were good and I had been riding a 3 fin Bonzer all fall and winter.

The first wave I took off on the board I felt out of control for some reason.  It was a HH waves and the board felt like it was going nuts.  I’m sure this was due to a full inch less width than I had been riding and not figuring out foot placement yet.  I kicked/wiped out and felt the leash let go.  I watched in horror as a brand new board went washing into the beach.  I hadn’t double checked the leash string and luckily the board arrived on the beach unharmed.  I was in a time crunch for work that day so by the time I made it up to my car and got a new string in it was time to go.  The next morning I took it out again in the same conditions and the board would just not work for me.  I was feeling like a super kook.  Luckily I had two other Bonzer riders as buddies to give me advice.  The advice was to just take it out and ride it normally on like a waist high day and figure it out.

The next day was just that.  Waist high with great shape and the point/reef I was at was reeling off 50-100 yard rights.  I don’t know what happened but on the first wave the board just clicked for me and I got the Bonzer feeling I had felt before- best described as levitation.  Even though this waist high day was not what I had intended for this board it performed amazingly.  This stoked me out because not only was the board making me rip but it also showed that it had range on the low end and wasn’t some HH-and-above-HPSB that would ruin a session if I brought it to the beach and the waves weren’t doing what they were supposed to.  A Bonzer does not lose speed through its turns like a thruster does, everything is linear and about speed.  That being said, it is not like a keel where your only option is speed and flow, the tail will whip around as easily and as high performance as your skills are capable of.  When I threw (what felt like to this kook) a Taylor Knox style sprayfan on a waist high wave I knew that this board was a keeper.

This board was never intended as a DD, so I feel bad that it has to sit in the garage for so many sessions but on those good days we’ve had in March and April this board hasn’t just performed as I expected but it has blown my mind.  Every time I take it out I do something that I didn’t think I could do.  That’s the mark of a good board.

As I was walking out of Surfy Surfy JP said that its nice to see a Bonzer HPSB since they hadn’t seen one in a while.  Judging how this board works for me, I think everyone should go buy one.


4 thoughts on “Campbell Brothers Bonzer 5 HPSB “Chile Model” – Board Review

  1. Do yourself a favor and go new leash string on new board. Rookie move that could have ruined your day.
    Brand new Bonzer deserves a new $2.00 string. They ride the barrel really well, yes? Nice Board.

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