Rusty Traveler: Presented by John Maher

Pack one for your next surf trip: there is a good chance it could be the only board you’ll really need when the surf bumps up. The Traveler is basically a step-up shortboard that covers a wide range of conditions, from chest-high beachbreaks to eight-foot hollow reefs. It is such a solid and versatile surfboard.

The Traveler is designed to handle bigger waves than a shortboard, but is loose enough to shred small waves all day long. I recommend going with Futures Fin Boxes or FCS with the Traveler because of the convenience while on the move in between cars and airplanes. It is also nice to be able to plug in narrower-tipped fins, which loosen the board up if you find yourself riding it in small waves. Plug in big, wider-tipped fins for stability when the surf is a little bigger.

I really like when one board can cover a wide variety of surf sizes and conditions. There are a good number of surfers who travel with only one or two boards (usually a shortboard and maybe a step-up). The Traveler is an ideal complement to the shortboard as the step-up.

The Traveler is a great board to fall back on if you ding or snap your shortboard, since it works so well in both small and big waves.

I like to ride my Traveler at spots like Cloudbreak, Puerto Escondido, Blacks, and Pipeline. The Traveler gets into waves really early since it has more volume than a shortboard, still has rocker and rails that are maneuverable enough to sneak under the lip or go on rail, and holds its rail in steep, hollow barrels.

I like my Traveler three to six inches longer than my shortboard, and ride it with a round pintail. I also like to ride mine with either a tri-fin or quad-fin configuration, and prefer it shaped out of a PU (polyurethane) blank, but EPS (epoxy polystyrene) works too.

It feels good to have confidence when putting your board on rail when the surf is solid, and the Traveler goes on rail in heavy waves with the best of ‘em. A good friend of mine got the best barrel of his life on his Traveler at six-foot Blacks.

I ride mine wherever I need to sit and take off outside of the bubble or ledge in order to glide in early and set up for the barrel. The Traveler allows for more high-performance surfing in juicy surf, unlike a mini-gun that a lot of other surfers will be riding the same session.

I also like the Traveler when I’m surfing small waves in really cold water, because of the extra volume throughout the board, which helps out my paddle game when I’m restricted in thick rubber. The extra few inches of rail also help keep me from bogging when I’m surfing in booties. The Traveler is the bomb and it goes with me on every surf trip.

The Traveler is a bigger alternative to the Rusty Slayer and a valuable asset to your quiver.

Board Review: John Maher
Photos: Scott Winer and a tourist in South America. Maher in Chile and Fiji surfing a 6’6″ Rusty Traveler.

For more gear reviews and surf tales check out Maher's all new website

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Waterlogged: Dustin Fiero

Local San Diego waterman and Rusty Surfboards team rider, Dustin Fiero, has worked out quite the ideal schedule allowing for maximum water time and minimal concerns.  Fiero spends a good chunk of his year life guarding in La Jolla, California and he is also a frequent visitor to the coveted island of Tavarua, home of the picture-perfect yet humbling waves Cloudbreak and Restaurants. 

In between his life guard shifts and his time on the island he is also known to chase down big swells that bring Todos Santos to life.... We were able to catch Fiero out of the water for a brief moment and here is what he had to say:

Photo: Winer

How has the surf been since your arrival?

The surf has been great... We have had some solid days and then some playful days great for my Dozer.

You have been charging some big waves recently, can you tell me about some of your more memorable big wave sessions over the winter?

I missed the swell that hit California in early november but we have had some solid swells down here.  We had a great morning session all by ourselves and then that evening there were some solid waves coming in. One wave almost tore my head off, I got held down for a while, it tore my shirt off and pushed me all the way to the tower- Kaeo came in on the ski and asked if I was OK. It was pretty much just the Tavarua guys out. Perfect for my Traveler.

Dustin tackles Todos

What is the vibe around Tavarua after the government  of Fiji revoked the exclusive wave rights?

Its been amazing as always.  The island is still magical and plenty of surf to be had.

Have you had a chance to surf any of the other nearby waves to Tavarua, like Wilkes, that were previously off limits to you?

Yea, as soon as the conditions change we are on it!

How have the crowds been?

During the peak surfing hours it can get a little crowded but being on Tavarua your able to take advantage of the early morning and late afternoon sessions plus any sessions in between. The conditions are constantly changing and it is to our advantage.

Photo: Winer

I understand you're quite the fisherman as well, any bites lately?

Yeah, we've been knocking the snot out of the fish, Eddie has been putting us right in the thick of all the tuna and Aku. We have been eating pretty good lately.

Spending time in Tavarua means lots of Kava, how many bowls of Kava have you had in one sitting?

I try to stay away from Kava, I usually get a bowl or two each week, just enough to keep me going.

Do you know every word to every song the Fijian women sing on the island?

Oh yeah, sing alongs almost ever evening.

What's the next big move for you after this stint on Tavarua?

I am headed to Australia. I am going to explore Ballina, head into Sydney, and make sure snapper is still a perfect right point. Then back to life guarding in La Jolla and waiting for south swells.

Johnny Maher in Tavarua

Team rider, Johnny Maher, spends about four months a year as a boatman on the tropical wave magnet of Tavarua Island, Fiji. He has been going there ever since he was 14 years old and has been getting barreled ever since... Here's Johnny on a recent trip to his second home.


Click here to see more of the slide show, by Carey, on


For more from Johnny "Monster" Maher check out this video clip of him charging on the Traveler...

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Johnny “Monster” Maher Presents The Traveler

Edited by: Derek Smith with Fluid Motion Pictures

La Jolla local, Johnny "Monster" Maher, began chasing barrels around the globe at a young age. Four months out of the year, Monster serves as a boatman in the coveted surf paradise of Tavarua Island. His summers are spent lifeguarding at the one and only Blacks Beach in San Diego and uses the rest of his time to travel around the world hunting massive swells...

"The Traveler is the first board I pack in my bag when getting ready for any trip..."
- Johnny Maher

Click here for more info on The Traveler

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