SHOP TIP - Surfboard Terms

SHOP TIP - Surfboard Terms

Do you know your Plan shape from your Rocker? You Rails from your Deck?

If you do, good stuff - and if not - lets cover the basics 



The deck is the top surface of the surfboard where you stand. It is often covered with traction pads or wax to provide grip and prevent slipping. The deck can have different contours, such as flat or domed, affecting how the board feels underfoot.


The bottom is the underside of the surfboard that makes contact with the water. The design of the bottom greatly influences how the board performs in the water. Features like concaves (single, double), channels, and flat sections help to direct water flow and affect the board's speed, lift, and manoeuvrability.


The rails are the edges of the surfboard that run from the nose to the tail. They influence how the board 'feels' with the wave face. Thicker, rounder rails provide more buoyancy and stability, making the board less responsive but easier to ride. Thinner, sharper rails allow for better control and sharper turns but can be less forgiving.


The nose is the front part of the surfboard. Its shape and size impact the board's paddling efficiency, stability, and performance. A wider, rounder nose provides more flotation and stability, ideal for beginners or longboards. A narrower, pointed nose allows for better performance in steep waves, commonly found in shortboards.


The tail is the back end of the surfboard, which plays a crucial role in the board's manoeuvrability and speed. Different tail shapes (such as squash, swallow, pin, and square) affect how the board releases water and turns. A wider tail provides more lift and speed, while a narrower tail offers better control and hold.


Both the Nose and Tails shapes make a big difference to how a board 'looks' but the last 3" of the board have less effect than how the wide the board is 12" from the nose or tail!


The rocker is the curve of the surfboard from nose to tail. More rocker (more curve) enhances manoeuvrability and performance in steep waves but can slow the board down. Less rocker (flatter curve) increases speed and is better suited for small, mellow waves. The rocker is divided into nose rocker (curve in the front) and tail rocker (curve in the back).

Plan shape

The plan shape is the outline of the surfboard when viewed from above, encompassing the overall shape and silhouette of the board. It includes the nose, tail, and the straightness or curve of the rails. The plan shape determines the general characteristics of the surfboard, such as stability, speed, and turning ability.

For example, a wider, more parallel outline provides more stability and paddle power, while a narrower, more curved outline allows for quicker, more responsive turns.

Where the wide point on the plan shape also makes a big difference. Aboard with a wide point ahead of centre will feel 'longer' whilst if you bring the wide point behind centre the board will feel 'shorter' - when surfing a wave. 


How all of these parts come together make your board feel and work the way it does.. its a balancing act and one that is constantly being refined by shapers.


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