13 September, 2013 13 September, 2013

The Vetkoek – by Dennis Ellis (The Boardroom)


SHAPER: Dennis Ellis
SIZE: 5’2″ X 20 1/2″ x 2 1/4″
VOLUME: 29.5 litre
PRICE: R3700.00 – polyester (standard stringer) / R4400.00 – epoxy (standard stringer)
R4650.00 – epoxy (stringerless with channel rail) / R4900.00 – epoxy (stringerless with carbon rail)
* all prices include 5-fin box setup and single side 3-colour artwork.
ENQUIRIES: 48 Brickmakers Kloof, South End, Port Elizabeth
Tel: (+27) 41-586 2276
Cell: (+27) 83 735 4865
Email: theboardroom@axemail.co.za


The Vetkoek. No, not a deep fried wedge of dough filled with your favourite choice of filling. Well not entirely anyway. And don’t be fooled by the sluggish sounding name, it’s quite the opposite.

AVG feels out the Vetkoek at Crons.

In fact, the Vetkoek flies, really fast. It’s arguably one of the fastest surfboards we’ve ever ridden and opened up doors to some creative surfing we didn’t now we had in us.

Creative surfing? Yep, with the speed and flex we found that you don’t have to be a pro to get creative and explosive on this epoxy disc. The trick instead is being able to channel that speed into drawing different lines and holding your turns. The downside is if you don’t, you’re going to be squiggling all over the wave face. It takes a few sessions to get into.

Here’s a look at the major aspects of the board we tested below, broken down into its main features and what makes it go:


FIN SETUP – Three, four or five. You decide. The great thing about a board like this is its versatility. Gone are the days when all you had was what was glassed in. Mix it up. Change fin sizes and see what works best in various conditions. We found for all-round, high-performance surfing it responded best as a thruster, but for extra speed and drive in smooth down-the-line waves or barrel riding, four fins was amazing.

TAIL – Double-winged, rounded squash. This gives you maximum surface area and volume, while the wings pull it in really quick. By pulling the tail in like this you get far better rail-to-rail reaction time.


RAILS – Now this is interesting, and one of the big differences between the Vetkoek and other boards on offer. It has a grooved-out channel along it’s edges just inside of the rail. This offers a number of things, most importantly increased flex. But we’ll talk about flex further down. In addition the groove adds some strength to the rail and if you’re a pilot, it’s great for grabbing while in the air.

NOSE – Rounded with little to no rocker. This means that on take-off the board is going to be less forgiving, but then on the plus side this is what contributes greatly to the additional speed the board has on offer – it’s not pushing any water up front. Guys like Craig Anderson swear by nose shapes like these on some of the fastest waves on the planet.

ROCKER – For the reason mentioned above, it has little to no rocker for maximum speed.

CONCAVE – In addition to the “rockerless” nose, it’s the deeply etched single to double concave through to the tail that gives the Vetkoek its incredible drive. We didn’t have to push or drive much to get the board racing down the line, and when it came to powerful waves on the Atlantic coast, the wave and the board did all the work for us.


DECK – Besides the grooved out rails the deck is flat. In fact it has a slight concave in the deck, which effects the flex pattern of the board. We found this deck great for paddling too.

FLEX – As mentioned before, the channels around the rails result in increased ‘controlled’ flex. The flex pattern is controlled by the rail stiffness, as opposed to the centre stiffness and the stringer on a normal board. This creates more lateral torsion,  (that’s ‘twist’ for the layman) because of the larger area of foam being flexed. Double the area in fact. Think of your entire board twisting from rail to rail, instead of from the stringer to one of the rails. The theory goes that when you turn it bends and fits in to the wave better. In the bowl the flex flattens out the rocker even more, and in the barrel it increases speed. It’s subtle, but basically the board changes while you surf.

WIDTH & THICKNESS – One of the bonuses of a board with width and girth is that it paddles with ease. Usually a shorter board means less paddle power, but shapers make up for that with more volume. So you can have your cake and eat it. Or in this case, your Vetkoek. We found the thickness also helped a lot while riding the barrel with more of that shorty, stumpy volume giving extra vooma in the pit.


COMPOSITION – Epoxy and extruded polystyrene foam (EPS). No water absorption, tough and very springy.

THE VERDICT – Short, ultra-responsive boards like The Vetkoek may not be for everyone, especially when it comes to controlling speed and the looseness of the board. But who doesn’t want flex and speed in their surfing? Who doesn’t want to just have fun every session? We test drove the Vetokoek in everything from running Zululand points to dumpy Long Beach bowls and found it difficult to go back to a regular board after a few months. In fact, one of the reviewers refuses to get on anything else now. It’s a magic shape, and you should try something like it at least once.



The Zag Review is an independent editorial feature on surfing hard goods, ranging the full spectrum from boards and wetsuits to tide watches and travel bags. None of the reviews are paid for by advertisers or part of an advertising deal, and we retain the right to give honest, critical feedback that is in the interest of our readers. The product is reviewed by Zag staff and everyday surfers who rip, not pros who are paid to endorse the goods. We test the gear for a minimum period of two weeks (and a month for boards) to give you comprehensive feedback for the surfing layman. We know that surfboards are not a “one size fits all solution” and different surfers prefer different aspects on a board according to how they surf, even if they are the same weight and height. In the case of surfboard reviews, we’ve made sure to seek feedback from at least three different surfers to get well-rounded input.

Contact us here if there is a particular product you’d like to see reviewed and we will do our best to make it happen.


  1. lekker
    14 September, 2013 at 9:19 am · Reply

    while i realise that board shapes have always been influenced by innovation and testing and cribbing… I haven’t really noticed until now just how direct the cribbing is. This board, being so radical and strange makes it so obvious how a combination of daring design elements, can suddenly work in a package, and then quickly the me-too shapers adopt these ideas. Dan Mann’s designs for Firewire’s Sweet Potato and Baked potato have similar outlines, bottom contours, rocker combos to this board. While i’m not knocking anyone, i am just commenting on the fact that i’d never noticed how direct the copying is. Even the name (a orb like food). Invention and innovation and bravery to try new things is cool and all, and should be encouraged.. But if it’s easier to look around and copy other designs, you don’t need to risk a r&d. Like knock off electronics, fashion. Just an observation

    • PE surfer
      14 September, 2013 at 9:39 am · Reply

      The thing is Lekker, if you go back years and years, you will see Dennis has been experimenting with these kinds of shapes and layups for a long time. I’m actually willing to wager before any of those Firewrite shapes came out, or even boards like the Dumpster Diver. And besides, shapers freely admit that they look to each other for innovation. It’s all part of the evolution.

      • PE surfer
        14 September, 2013 at 9:40 am · Reply


      • lekker
        14 September, 2013 at 1:55 pm · Reply

        Yeah, that’s what makes it such a weird thing…the brands that get associated with a certain innovation, are often just the ones who marketed hardest, while the real risk takers and brave innovators get passed by.. Cool to know that Dennis is not just cloning. Everyone looks around as you say. And, what is cool, for me is the range of surfboards we are now seeing, and the way that minds are open to different craft. I remember in the 80’s, everyone virtually rode the exact same boards, where as now there’s such range. Vetkoek looks very cool.

        • Dennis Ellis
          25 September, 2013 at 1:55 pm · Reply

          Thanks.valid points’lekker’.There are certain shapes that every shaper has as part of their range,that most came by through good old r&d.Take the high volume full nose round pin..every shaper has a version,worldwide:Dominator,Hydro X,Stumpie,Biscuit etc etc.The shape is from the early 70’s single fin,works like a dream with new concaves and rockers.
          Why has every shaper got the same model?because they work.
          Rockerlines for instance, are very specific.they either work or they don’t,and if you spend enough time ex
          perimenting,you will find what does work and odds are it’s the same as one being used on the other side of the world.
          There is very little in surfboard design which hasnt been done at some stage before,whether the shaper is concious of it or not.
          As you said, there where stages, the 80’s twin wing swallow and 90’s needle nose square tail thruster come to mind,where the boards were almost identical,whether made in SA or Hawaii.
          food for thought..but certainly there is way more variey these days.
          I’ve patented specific flex layups in the past,( these used in the vetkoek are totally unique,worldwide),but at the end of the day for them to ever be popular they need to be copied,which i would take as a compliment.
          Ask Simon anderson..

  2. Jonesy PE
    16 September, 2013 at 10:01 am · Reply

    My old man and I, both have Vetkoeks from Dennis and holy molly do these boards fly !!!

    Small PE kak waves or purrrrrfect JBay these boards are the sex.

    It does take a while to learn how to slow them down for a nice bottom turn into the pocket but you can out paddle a long boarder and catch truck loads more waves.

    Actually a disadvantage for everyone else in the water when they see you rock up with one of these !!! Arrr nooit !!

    Dennis the EC shaping legend has done hard yards okes.

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