So curiosity got the better of my common sense today and I purchased a twin -fin beater board by catch surf. I took the beater out at everyone's favorite crappy marin spot in slightly wind-affected conditions. Here are my results:
1) the beater is a small board, and although it floats well for its size, the overall flotation is minimal - just enough to get going, really. Paddling is okay; it helps that the board is short enough to kick behind when facing an incoming set.
2) ducking the board is not a problem at all. very easy to push under incoming waves and control under the water.
3) paddling in to waves requires a bit more of just about everything- more paddle power, more critical timing, and more willingness to drop late - paddling from the shoulder won't do it for you.
4) I was surprised that I caught some rides on it fairly easily. Once up, the beater is very squirrelly, however it is possible to hold a line and get across the face. watch out though! its easy to lose your footing, or your edge, or both on the beater, and go down hard. although the beater can take it, you have to ask yourself, "can i take it?". after half an hour i had scored three rides and three closeouts, hit the bottom when attempting a hard bottom turn, pulled my groin hard and tweaked my knee when the board took off leaving me behind it. it is a slippery, squirrelly little ride that is willing to slide out on you without a moment's notice.
5) the downside of riding the beater is also it's upside: the loose nature of the board lends itself to acting ridiculous in the water. you likely won't be throwing spray but you can pull some easy 180's or 360's while riding.
The conditions in the water today may have been a little too consequential to give the beater a fair evaluation, but my feelings about it so far are the following:
I think it would improve the beater to add a few more inches in width, and about a foot of length; this would provide better float, but keep the loose nature of the beater intact. Riding the beater is bit challenging, but not overly so; it is light, agile, and performs adequately for its size but it is very loose and requires plenty of skill to hold it in on any steep sections. All in all, I think the beater is a fairly fun board, but without some additional foam I believe it will remain a novelty item. I await taking the beater out to bo-bo sometime to give it a whirl in less steep conditions where the it may come in to it's own element. perhaps in soft waves, i may go from simply liking the board as a curiosity to actually really enjoying it as something to surf on. stay tuned for further updates as they develop.