Lets Talk Tails - Longboard Surfboard Design

Posted by Gillian Grove on

If you’ve been reading along you will know the lightbulb that went off when I started learning to shape with the shock that their were around 65 elements in a custom board that can be tweaked to you and your surf conditions.

I was stunned to realise that nose riding is built into the tail end of the board. Sure there’s some elements we add to the nose and other bits that help, but if the tail doesn’t stay in the water while you are on the nose then there’s going to be problems.

Rolled, square, vee, fish, rails - these are words that meant nothing to me 6 months ago. Now I’m trying to understand what each style does and why.

Shapers are always thinking about where the water moves under or around your board and shaping for that.

The bottom third of your board is generally used for turning and in longboards for keeping you on the nose.

So one of the things we often add to the bottom at the tail is a rolled V shape underneath. This causes the board to suck down into the water which naturally helps with turning and nose riding.

You can always tell a board that needs more roll in the bottom in the surf. The bottom of my first longboard was shaped with only a small roll, I had to push quite hard on my back foot to lift the board up and out of the water for turning.

The shape of the tail is important too. I shaped a round tail on my latest board to match the kinds of turns I like to do. The turns become smooth and long (consistent with how I surf) as there’s no fight from the water to move around. Square tails are better for faster snappy turns and a middle ground is the rounded square or ‘squash’ tails.

The rails become import here too. Rails with a distinct edge to them (hard rails) are best in large, steep surf as they dig into the side of the wave to hold you there. I generally surf smaller slower surf here and so softer rails generally work best.

Rail shapes can transition towards the tail end of the board and when I shaped my performance mini mal I transitioned the rails to more of a hard edge at the tail. This gives me more snappy quick turns.

So here I end talking about rails - again when I started talking tails🤦‍♀️ Happy surfing everyone!

Here's a quick run down of board design if you would like to read a little more

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