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What Are the Parts of a Surfboard?

   March 29th, 2022   Posted In: Articles   Tags:

What Are the Parts of a Surfboard?

A surfboard doesn’t look all that complicated until you really dig into the anatomy and really define all the parts that make it what it is.

Parts of a Surfboard

Shopping for a surfboard can be stressful, especially if you are a beginner and you don’t what all the terms mean and what all the features actually do. If you find yourself asking, “What are the parts of a surfboard?” reading this will get you on your way to making an informed choice before spending hundreds of dollars on something that may not suit you all that well. 

The good news is, we are here to help! We will pick the surfboard apart so that when you head to your local shop to buy one you aren’t scratching your head the whole time wondering what they are talking about when they are trying to explain the parts of a surfboard.

The Rocker

The rocker is a part of a surfboard that can be better defined as a design feature. It represents the curvature of your board from a vertical standpoint while it is laying on the underside. If you lay your board facing up, you can easily see the rocker by observing the upward curve. 

Some surfboards have a continuous curvature from front to back. Other boards have only rockered sections at the front or the back. While the midsection of the board appears flat. On this type of board, the rocker of the board at the front section is often called the ‘flip’. And the rocker of the back section is often called the ‘kick.’

Rocker is important to understand because it changes the maneuverability or turning sensitivity, and speed. More rocker on your nose helps it from dipping into the water. More rocker in the tail helps you turn faster and build speed. A more relaxed rocker helps with stability and is usually found on longer boards meant for beginners.

The Nose

The nose of the board is the very front tip or the upper section of your board. It is usually one of the best parts of the surfboard for helping you quickly decide whether the board is for a beginner or an expert.  You will see pointed noses or rounded noses depending on what type of board you ride.

Typically, a board with a pointy nose means it won’t be as stable. Which means it is meant for surfers who are a bit more advanced. A rounded nose indicates that the board will have added stability. Which makes it more suitable for beginners.

The Stringer

The stringer is the centerline that you see running down the center of the board. This is one of the parts of a surfboard that may or may not be visible. Most boards that are made of fiberglass will have a visible stringer that is made of wood or carbon fiber. It is used for strength and often acts as a reference point for surfers and surfboard shapers. Many surfboards made from foam will not have this clearly defined line.

Bottom Contour or The Concave

Another one of the most important parts of a surfboard in terms of ride-ability is the concave, which is better defined as the bottom contour which controls the lift and drag. There are several different types of contours on the underside of boards to choose from and they often change throughout the same board. 

A true concave indicates a rounded bottom where the middle of the board sits higher than the sides. Some boards have a double concave. Others have a belly contour where the middle of the board is lower than the sides. Each version makes a big difference in speed and stability. It would be best to ask the experts at your local shop which concave would be best for your ability.

The Rails 

The rails are the edges of your board. They are the curved section that divides the bottom from the top of the board. They are usually referred to as hard or soft rails. Soft rails will have a much more rounded appearance and hard rails will have a much more defined square shape. 

The rails are one of the most important parts of a surfboard because the volume of the rails greatly impacts the balance of the board. Big, round rails offer a lot of stability. And sharper, narrower rails will offer less.

The Tail

The tail is the portion of the board at the very back and you’ll notice that it will usually be slimmer and has sharper edges than the rest of the board. Like other parts of the surfboard, you’ll see tails coming in various shapes. Sometimes they’re rounded, sometimes they come to a point and are called ‘pin tails’, sometimes they are square.

They can also appear to be rounded squares which can be called ‘squash tails.’ Some have splits in them that look like double-v’s. Those are known as ‘swallow tails.’ There are also ‘fish tails’ that are also split, but the outer edges are straight and the inner edges are rounded.

Traction Pads

Sometimes boards come with a preinstalled traction pad that sits on the top of your board at the tail. They give your back foot some gripping when you are riding. If you don’t prefer to use wax for your back foot you can buy a traction pad and install it on most boards.

The Fins

The fins are the rudders that sit on the bottom of the board at the tail and they can be fixed or removable depending on the board. If your board has removable fins then the area where you install the fins are called fin plugs.

Many boards have three fins. In that case, the middle fin that sits furthest back is called a skag. Some boards only have a skag and other boards have just two fins on the right and left and go without the middle skag.

Leash and Leash Plug

The leash is the plastic cord that attaches to the surfboard and also to your ankle so your board doesn’t go floating off into shore after you fall. The leash plug is the area where you attach your leash to the board.

Well, there you have it. You’ve probably realized that surfboards are not all that complicated so now, anytime anyone asks you what are the parts of a surfboard you should be able to clearly explain each part. 

Knowing each of the parts of a surfboard is a part of surfing, so adding this knowledge to your brain is helpful and will help you make the best choices for your next board.

Wes Severson is a fitness enthusiast and bodyboarder from San Francisco, CA who is always at Ocean Beach hitting the waves. He is also an Emmy Award-winning broadcast news writer and producer and a recording artist who goes by the name Wes Magic.

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One Comment

  • How do you loosen the glue holding the zipper in place on the wet suit. Have removed the stitching and have the new zipper but don’t want to tear the suit by pulling on the glue. Is there a way to loosen the glue? Heat? Solvent?

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