The idea is simple: shortboard performance in a wave-catching body, but does it live up to the hype?
Bob McTavish has been shaping the Carver since 1994. Thousands have been sold to customers all around the world. But mid-length boards often get poo poo’d by experienced (jaded?) surfers as something for beginners to progress off as fast as possible. So how does the Carver stack up?
The McTavish fits an interesting (and I would say growing) niche of high performance mid-length boards. Average-intermediate surfers are starting to realise maybe they should not be trying to ride the exact same boards as the top professionals and instead go for something that will help get their wave count up and still handle everything they can throw at it.
At first glance this board looks like any other mini-mal, but one session on one and you will feel the difference. This is not the same chunky slow unresponsive mid-length you might have learned on and then sold off. This is a high-performance board you will want to keep in your collection.
There’s really nothing special about the look of the Carver. And in photos they can seem a little plain. But in person there’s something about the subtle lines and outline of the board that really make it stand out. (In a room of about 50 boards my eyes were immediately drawn to the McTavish.) It just looks like it would be a nice ride.
In The Surf
I had the opportunity to ride a 8’0″ McTavish Carver for a couple of days during a recent trip to Hawaii and it was a very fun board for the 2-3ft waves we scored in Waikiki.
In short: the board lives up to the “shortboard performance in a wave-catching body” concept.
It’s very lightweight for it’s size and paddles like a dream. (I had no trouble out-paddling all the tourists no matter how big a board they were riding.) With me at 80kg the 8’0″ was a little too buoyant to duck dive so I got plenty of turtle roll practice.
The McTavish will let you sit out the back with the longboarders and pick off the set waves, but the moment you stand up it feels much more like a shortboard.
Ride it off the back foot and it’ll turn on a dime, then shuffle forward and feel the acceleration as you move to the sweet spot around the front/middle of the board. And it’s got a really nice nose/tail rocker balance that allows easy entry into steeper/hollower waves, without sacrificing paddle power.
I only got to surf it up to 3ft but it’s a confidence-inspiring board that feels like it would light up when the surf got bigger.
Here’s a video showing the kind of performance you can get out of this board:
- Designer: Bob McTavish
- Available Lengths: 7’0” – 8’6”
- Typical Lamination: 6 x 6 x 6oz Standard
- Fins: FCS Thruster
- Rocker: 3-stage
- Tail: Rounded square or pin tail
- Rails: Boxy 60/40
- Concave: Single nose to double tail
There’s a reason why Bob McTavish has been a household name for so long, with the McTavish brand dating back to 1962 and thousands of boards hand-shaped by the man himself for happy customers.
The McTavish Carver has evolved and been refined over the past 24 years since it’s introduction, and the current model is a testament to all those little improvements… it just feels right. If you’re looking for something with a little more volume so you can get more waves, but aren’t yet ready to retire to a longboard, then take a closer look at the Carver.