Surfboard Design

Girl Surfers Talk Surfboard Design


Understand the design of surfboards, the terminology used in surfboard design and how your surfboard influences your surfing. The main surfboard design features are:

  1. Surfboard Plan Shape
  2. Surfboard Tail Shapes
  3. Surfboard Bottom Curves
  4. Surfboard Rails
  5. Surfboard Thickness
  6. Surfboard Flexibility

Surfboard Plan Shape

The plan shape is the outline curve of the surfboard from the nose to the tail; the boards length and widest point (the area that influences maneuverability) is very important in the development of the plan shape.

The widest part of board is usually just below center on shortboards and can be placed on either side of the center line on retro boards. Shortboards often have more outline curvature than longboards, allowing a shortboard surfer to perform tighter turns compared to a more drawn out turn on a longboard. However, sometimes more curve can lead to less speed down the line.
Click here for more detailed info on Surfboard Plan Shapes

Surfboard Tail Shapes

PINTAIL – holds power in turns and gives the surfer more control in big waves

ROUNDED PINTAIL – holds turns in critical sections but has more volume and therefore more floatation than a regular pintail, it also allows for more vertical turns

ROUND TAIL – a lot of volume is under the back foot on the round tail, this enables the surfer to release easier off the top

SQUASH TAIL– a square shaped tail provides lots of area in the tail for floatation and speed

SWALLOW TAIL – gives the board extra length and still turns loosely, can also be good in big waves


Surfboard Bottom Curves

As a general rule the more surface area in contact with the water, the faster the surfboard can travel, however in most surfboards shapes this contact is reduced by making a “rocker” to enable an easier turn.

RockerROCKER – A flat rocker with a slight lift will give the surfer more speed yet a highly curved rocker will help in turning the board

VEE BOTTOM – A vee shaped into the bottom at the tail of the board is good for the transition in rail-to-rail surfing

CONCAVES – Concaves are shaped in the bottom of the surfboard to create extra speed, as the water gets pushed under the board to give the tail extra lift. Single and double concaves can be used separately or in conjunction with each other. Single concaves are often used under the nose area of longboards, while double concaves are commonly used in shortboards at the tail end of a single concave; often found through the mid-section of the surfboard. A double concave gives the surfer greater projection out of turns.

CHANNELS – Channels that are shaped into the bottom of the surfboard allow the water to flow through to the fins and tail, the surfboard can tend to ride higher in the water than with those surfboards without channels.

Surfboard Rails

BOXY RAILS – Thick rails are boxy and these rails give a surfer more drive

MID RAILS – The mid-rail is rolled to be a very forgiving rail that is more suited to the
beginner surfer

LOW RAILS – Thin rails cut deeper into turns and suit shorter performance surfboards

Rails Generally around the tail of most surfboards the rails are sharp on the bottom to give extra drive and power to the surfer.

FlyersSurfboard Flyers on the Rails

Flyers are an additional feature added to select models of surfboards where “wings” are cut into the rails to give the surfboard less volume at the tail for better maneuverability, without sacrificing too much floatation.

Surfboard Thickness

In general the “nose” and “tail” of a surfboard are thinner than the mid-section of the board. The thickness of the board will vary according to the weight of the surfer and the surfboard shape/ model. Modern shortboards can be as little as 2 inches thick, while longboards or retro surfboards can at times be more than 3 inches thick.

Surfboard Flexibility

Surfboards have a degree of flexibility which is required for turning, this is mainly influenced by the surfboard materials used in the construction and the overall shape of the surfboard.


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