How is the performance of this Mick Fanning soft board? We put the MF Kuma fish 5’8 to the test.
– A playful fish – ideal for the days that your shortboard won’t work. Wouldn’t recommend it in too tiny or mushy waves. It will take off in soft waves, but once you’re riding, the board really comes to life in steeper sections.
The MF Kuma is a classic Fish-shaped foamie: a round pointed nose and a narrow swallow tail. The board includes two flex fins and is compatible with FCS 2 or Futures . As is custom at MF, no tailpad.
Volume (L): 32.74
Dimensions (inches): 5’8 x 21 x 2 1/2
MF softboards rose to a well known surf brand lightning fast, like its’ namegiver Mick Fanning himself. No wonder they’re doing great – the quality of the boards is just spot on. That’s because their boards aren’t really foamies, they’re hybrids. The MF’s have a rigid core and a foam outer layer. This makes the boards way less prone to sucking in water and losing stiffness over time – two ailments common to soft tops.
At the start of 2021 MF softboards launched a worldwide shaper competition: shapers could send in their board design and the most promising shapes would be prototyped. Mick would surf them and then select a winner. The Japanese shaper .. entered with a fresh looking fish design. Mick loved surfing this board and the MF Kuma collab was born.
The board comes in sizes varying from 5’4 to 6’0. We opted for the 5’8 because we tried the MF Little Marley in 5’10, and tested the Olaian 6’0, and were stoked to ride a more playful and loose board.
The first thing that stands out is how easy the board is to carry around. The Little Marley is small but wide so it barely fits under my arm. With the Kuma this isn’t a problem, especially since the board gets narrower towards the tail. So for kids (or rather, parents that don’t want to carry their kids board), or people of small or average height, this is a plus.
Don’t expect the board to paddle super fast. It’s just too small for that, plus, compared with normal small boards, it has more drag. Once in the lineup you’ll feel like a boss because the color is so awesome. We got curious inquiries about the board from even the most serious looking local French shortboarders (you know what kind of surfers I mean).
When you paddle in, the board definitely lacks the softboard bonus push you might have gotten used to. No early paddle ins with this one. You have to position yourselve in a relatively pushy part of the wave.
But once your up, you’ll feel the board glide down the face like any other shorter board. Except that with this foamie you’ll generete more speed on small or soft waves than with your other board. It’s really reactive so you can do turns, sprays and cutties all day long.
It did take a few waves to figure the board out. That’s also what others told me, so don’t be bummed when your first session on this board isn’t magical. I fell quite a bit because I dug my rail. I definitely recommend to not buy this board too small. The 5’8 is on the small side with 60kg if you’re an average surfer.
I don’t think it’s the best beginners board. I think the optimal situation for this board is as follows: you’re an average or advanced surfer and you want a board for the days that the waves are there, but you just miss some push on your shortboard. That feeling that you paddle your heart out but you just cannot get into this perfect looking right, and you see the wave just peeling miles to the beach and you go like ‘aaargh!!!’. Had you been on the Kuma Fish, you’d had the wave and you’d have been on your fifth turn by now.
It’s definitely recommended to put hard fins under the board – that is, if you like your turns to hold and not to drag. Normal thruster side fins work fine, but you might prefer one size bigger.
The MF Kuma Fish doesn’t like going straight. It’s qualities are in drawing tight turns and skating up and down the wave.
The main advice when opting for the Kuma is: don’t go too small. The 5’8 just, barely works for me (60kg). I felt the board sinking a bit on the bottom turn in a slow wave. On steeper, faster waves you won’t have this problem and the board cuts through the sections like a knife through boursin.
We surfed this board in knee high waves, which was fun, and surfed it in head high waves which was alright. I guess the ideal wall for this skatey soft top is anything in between.