Surfboard Design

surfboard design

Surfboard Design

Surfboard design has shot into the realms of rocket science or so it seems.

It doesn’t have to be that complicated, it might seem that way but when you break it down the concepts are fairly simple.

Putting all the concepts together to make a rideable board is the hard part.

That is why I think we should all pay a debt of gratitude to the Shapers and guys who keep pushing the limits of surfboard design.

With out the Shaper we would still be riding paipos, alaias, kiko`o and olo’s. Or even reed boats, like the Peruvians first rode waves with.

Surfboard Design Terms:

Click on each one to for more info.

Surfboard Outline

The outline or template is the most obvious and easy to recognize of surfboard design.

The outline will basically show what kind of surfboard it is… ie. shortboard, longboard, fish etc.

The Three Outline Components

1.)Nose Width

surfboard-design-componentsNose width is generally measured 1 ft back from the tip of the surfboards nose.
The width of the nose of a surfboard will affect how a surfboard reacts in certain types of waves.

Wider noses (11 inches or greater) paddle and catch waves easier. The additional planning area is an advantage in small surf. Another advantage of a wider nose is that more rail is in the water when doing a turn and that translates to longer drawn out powerful turns (GOOD STYLE).

The downside is that if you are looking to do lots of maneuvers or want to ride steep and barreling waves these noses aren’t the best for that. They tend to catch along the forward rail in hollow conditions.

Wider noses are found on funboards, fishes, longboards, many retro boards and shortboards geared towards small mushy waves.

Narrow noses create a curvier outline and will fit the board in steep waves (barrels!) the nose wont catch as easily in a steep wave and will be able to handle steeper and later takeoffs. The narrower the nose means less forward volume hence it makes it a bit harder to paddle and catch waves.

2.)Wide Point

The wide point of a surfboard is another fundamental component of the overall surfboard design.

The widest point of the surfboard can be thought as the pivot point on which the board turns.

The wide point can either be forward of center, back of center or neutral (right in the middle).

Forward wide points on surfboards will put more rail in the water during a turn, again making the turn more drawn out while still maintaining the speed you had while going into the turn.
The forward wide point surfboards are usually surfed with weight more concentrated on the front foot.
These designs also translate into greater paddling power and getting into waves earlier. Big wave guns will have this type of surfboard design as well as fishes, and retro boards.

Behind of center wide points are designed to be surfed off the back foot, the turning radius is shortened so you can do quicker snappier turns but you lose lots of drive and speed out of these turns. These boards make the surfer work more for speed. Most of the modern day three fin setups have the wide point behind of center, like all the surfers on the ASP world tour. These designs facilitate modern high performance surfing.

For a bit more in depth discussion of outlines,  Take a look at continuous and parallel outlines of surfboards.

3.) Tail Width

Tail width is not to be confused with tail shape, however the tail shape can affect the tail width.

Want To learn about different types of Surfboard Tail Designs

Tail width is generally measured 1 ft up from the bottom of the surfboard.

Wide tails are usually found on surfboards designed for smaller weaker waves.

Wide tails provide more planning area and thus make it easier to catch waves and have a more stable feeling.

Wider tails will generate more speed and and be a lot more maneuverable then a narrow tail since it does not dig or bite the water surface as much. With less bite comes less hold on steeper waves.

A narrow tail will hold in a wave better, but with that ability to bite and dig into the water surface it(narrow tail) creates less turning ability and and are slower then wide tail surfboards.

Narrow tails are found on surfboards designed for big or hollow waves with lots of power.


Now if you turn the board sideways you will see the profile or Foil of the surfboard.

Foil is the change in thickness or distribution of volume throughout the surfboard.





This component is often overlooked part when talking about surfboard design. It has to flow evenly throughout the entire board and increase and decrease in volume in all the right places, so the board will flow evenly through the water.

If the volume isn’t right (nose to thin, tail to thick) or there are dips and bumps the board will be unbalanced and wind up being a source of frustration when trying to ride it.