Surfboard design (2)

In our previous article we described the most common design elements in surfboard shaping like length, width and thickness.  But there are more variables that take part in the design of a good surfboard.

Here’s part 2 of our surfboard design overview:


The foil is the distribution of volume throughout the surfboard. If you put your board sideways you can see how the thickness increases and decreases. This way it will float evenly through the water. Having the right distribution affects your paddling, turning and maneuverability. If the distribution isn’t right the board will feel unbalanced.


The nose plays a big role when dropping into waves. Noses vary in curvature, thickness and width. Generally speaking a pointed nose is better for steeper waves and is easier for duck diving. Rounded and thicker noses are easier for paddling, stability and catching waves. Some longboards have specially designed nose riding noses to support the extra weight.


Nowadays there are many different tail designs. Pin tail designs are better for bigger waves because they hold well at higher speeds. The square tail is more responsive and will carve sharper turns. The swallow tail will help help your paddling and is easier to control in smaller waves.

Contours & tail designs surfboards
Contours & tail designs


Generally speaking a flat bottom contour is quick and loose in small waves but can be harder to turn at higher speeds. A single concave is very fast and favoured by backfoot surfers. It likes a clean wave face and is harder to ride on mushy days. A double concave makes the surfboard looser and easier to maneuver.

The V-shape helps you carve more easily and offers stability on surfboards with a swallow tail.


The rails make contact when to try to turn or maneuver the surfboard. Thicker and fuller rails offer more flotation and make them harder to turn. The thinner the rails the easier it is to sink the board into the water.


Without surfboard fins the board would be very unstable and very hard to control. There are many different fin setups that significantly impacts the performance of your board.

Fin set up surfboards
Fin set up


The single fin is mostly used on longboards. It’s very fast in a straight line. Turns are fluid and smooth but can’t be abrupt. Basically it’s a more glide-oriented than turn oriented style of surfing.


The twin fin offers more speed and maneuverability. It feels looser and turns very fast. It can sometimes slide out on a powerful bottom turn. They are not perfect for bigger waves and barrelling conditions.


The thruster is versatile and strong in lots of different conditions. It provides stability, drive and maneuverability and is one of the most common fin set ups today. It allows for vertical surfing and high performance maneuvers.


Quad fins deliver a lot more speed and drive. They also hold better in large surf and helps stabilize the surfboard. But increased speed will make you feel you have less control over your board.

Read our previous article on surfboard design here.

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