Focus On Surfboard Design – Know Your Board

Do you ever feel like a tourist in a foreign country when you go to order a new board. Behind all of the jargon of board makers there are a few basic principles that will help you understand why a board does work or it doesn’t.

Board Length

This is the most important decision a customer makes. The factors that influence what length you should have are simple.

1. The weight and height of the surfer.

2. The fitness of the surfer.

3. The kind of waves the board will be used in.

Plan Shapes

Tails – Again these depend upon on what size waves you want to surf.For general use, in small waves, a rounded square tail is the most popular among professional surfers. It gives support in the tail area in weaker waves. In bigger waves a narrower tail gives more security. As waves become larger there is less need for tail area support.

Width of the Centre – The smaller the wave , the wider the board should be, depending upon the size of the surfer. A 12 stone surfer and fit surfer riding 3 foot beach breaks should have a board around 18.5 – 19.

Width of the Nose – The narrower the nose the looser the board becomes.

The Bottom Curve / Rocker

The theory is that the straighter the board the faster it will go. However what we are then talking about is merely travelling fast in a straight line. To do manoeuvres you need curve. So a balance must be achieved between curve for manoeuvres and flatness for speed. For riding big waves you need curve in both nose and tail. If the board is flat it does not fit into the curve of the wave. A board must have life and that life comes from the rocker.


Obviously, the larger the surfer the more foam he needs. We are aiming for a balance between adequate support and thinness for sensitivity. This is a fine line. Our 12 stone surfer in three foot beachbreaks needs a board 2.38 – 2.5 thick, provided all other factors are in order.


Thick or thin. Here we want a balance between enough foam to support the board while turning and not having too much, which causes the board to spin out. We have found that rolling the deck makes the top of the  rail lay over more which allows the board more sensitivity, more responsiveness.At the same time the rolled deck keeps enough volume up from the bottom of the rail to support it while turning. The rolled deck/ rail again gives the board life. A box rail while being easy and fast to shape causes the board to surf flat and deadens manoeuvres. As boards become longer the rails become more laid over and finer to hold into the wave.


Add three and mix. No just kidding. Most fins are set at 90 degrees to the board. If you want a looser board the fins can be set at more than 90 degrees with the leading edge pointing towards the point of the nose. For big wave boards the setting of the fins becomes more parallel to the stringer. The size of the fins affects looseness / stiffness. The bigger the fin the stiffer the surfboard becomes.

Vee – Roll Across The Bottom

A flat bottom will surf flat. You need roll under the belly of the board and vee or concave through the back half of the board to get the board up on a rail while turning. This gives drive out of turns. For example the roll and vee  are married to the curve/rocker. Again it is a matter of striking a balance between flatness for speed and curve for manoeuvres.

Balance Of The Board

We keep mentioning, the balance of design. Summing up it is important for.

1. The right length for your height.

2. The right thickness for your weight.

3. The right amount of bottom curve/rocker for the length of the board.

4. The right amount of volume in the rail.

Good Luck and Happy Surfing …



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