The Anatomy Of A Surfboard Explained
Surfboards have a very complex shape since they are made to be hydrodynamic objects. To understand the anatomy of a surfboard there are some parts that make it the best possible tool for gliding through the waves. Whether it is a 4-foot surfboard or a 13 feet paddle-board, the complexity is the same.
Surfboards have certain terms for each part, just like a human body, you will learn the anatomy of a surfboard. We start with the top of the board is the nose, then moving down to the rails, the fins, the tail, the leash, and so on.
Because a surfboards has numerous forces coming at them, they have a different shape depending on the wave and wind conditions. The core materials that are used to shape a surfboard but also evolved with time and technology are wood, foam, and fiberglass or epoxy. Nowadays, there is even more high-tech surfboards too; like the hydrofoil where the anatomy of a surfboard like this one would change on the fins.
Shapers on the anatomy of a surfboard
As a shaper, a blank piece of foam can be transformed into a perfect brand new surfboard in a couple of hours or days. The shaper works on that one piece to have a perfect buoyancy, gravity, drag, and lift. All surfboards shaped can be either custom made or not and then bought by the perfect person to fit that surfboard. A surfboard will fit somebody the right way depending on the height, and weight of the surfer, as well as the conditions, being surfed in. It also varies in length, width, thickness, and so much more comes into it as you progress through the years of surfing.
As a result of different conditions, surfers, and waves; there are 7 common surfboard types; shortboards, longboards, fish boards, guns, Malibu, soft surfboards, and stand up paddle boards.
Anatomy of a surfboard breakdown
All surfboards, no matter the shapes have all the same features and anatomy. So let’s take a look at the main parts and design of a surfboard.
1 Nose. This is the front of the surfboard. The first 12 inches. The tip of the surfboard. It has a huge influence on paddling and maneuverability. It is also shaped higher on some surfboards but not all to give it a little bit more space between the water and the surfboard. It can be shaped wide or narrow depending on the surfer surfing it.
2 Tail. This is the back of the surfboard. The last 12 inches. The tail has a big influence on speed and maneuverability. It can be shaped very narrow and very wide depending on the surfboard and surfer.
3 Rails. The rails are the two sides of the surfboard. They are round edges. This is where you will grab your surfboard when carrying it. This is also where it has the thickness of the surfboard.
4 Stringer. The wooden strip in the middle of the surfboard going from the nose to the tail. It is placed right at the center of the surfboard and is vertical. The stringer increases strength and reduces unwanted flexibility on the surfboard.
5 Deck. The top surface of the surfboard. It is flat. This is where the surfer stands on their board and the place that is typically being waxed.
6 Bottom. This area is the bottom of the surfboard. It touches and rests on the water when surfing.
7 Fins Plug. These are located in the bottom tail of the surfboard. They are usually two holes for each surfboard or one big slice of a hole. These holes are shaped differently based on which kind of fin setup the shaper is using and also which brand fin setup the shaper is using.
8 Leash Plug. This is a small hole that is placed on the tail of the surfboard, it contains a metal bar where the leash rope will fit through.
Outline. The overall shape of the surfboard. This is just the whole surfboard.
Foil. The rate of a surfboard’s thickness from the nose to the tail.
Rocker. The amount of curve from the nose to the tail of the surfboard. You will see that rocker when looking down the surfboard. The rocker depends on the surfboard and what is being achieved with it by the surfer.
Concave. The contour on the bottom of the surfboard to channel water. The concave is the space where water travels from nose to tail of the surfboard.
Now let’s talk about a couple things that the surfboard would need to be able to get started and head out in the water.
Fins. The fins are a huge part of a surfboard. You install the fins in the fin plugs. They are considered the wheels of a surfboard. They are placed at the bottom tail part of the surfboard and are big on stabilizing the surfboards movement. They prevent the board from sliding sideways and help in direction, drive, and control. There are 5 different fin setups: single fins, twin fin, thrusters, quad, and five fins setup. They are also 3 main brands of those fins: FCS, FCSII, and Future Fins. Fins can be removed and put back on unless you have a very old surfboard that has glass on fins. But in today’s world, all shapers make the fins removable.
Leash. The leash is a rope that connects the surfboard and the surfer together. The leash is installed in the leash plug at the tail end of the surfboard. The leash is for the safety of the surfer not getting hurt or having to swim when falling off the surfboard. It also made so that the surfboard does not go all the way down to the shore hitting other surfers.
Traction Pad. The traction pad is located in the tail end of the surfboard, very close to the leash and leash plug. It is made so that the surfer has a really great grip to prevent falling off the surfboard. The traction pad is mainly for the back foot only depending on your surfing stance.
Wax. We put wax on the deck of the surfboard so that the surfboard has more a grip. Just like the traction pad, but up the deck for your front foot. Surfers wax their surfboard usually before every surf session to make sure the wipeouts are prevented as much as possible.
Last but not least, a surfboard is tridimensional and is categorized by three main points. All of these characteristics are different for the surfer, and the wave conditions that it is being surfed in.
The length of the surfboard. This is the measurement in feet and inches from tail to nose.
Width. This is how wide the surfboard is. It is measured from rail to rail in inches at its wide points.
Thickness. Measurement from the deck to the bottom at its thickest points. Also measured in inches. The thickness has a big impact on the buoyancy of the surfboard.
Now that you all the terms for the anatomy of a surfboard, it is time for you to get that surfboard and revised all of them. It is very important to know them all so that you can relate when somebody else talks about it. Also, when starting out, always buy or rent a bigger surfboard. Do not try to surf on a shortboard like the pros do. We all started somewhere and that is on a longboard or soft surfboard, so go ahead and grab one of those for yourself.