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Surfboard Design – Future Nostalgia

by Boardcave on May 28, 2015


What’s new and what’s true?

One of the best things about surfboards is their future nostalgia.

Nostalgia is the feeling of craftsmanship, attention to detail and traditions of the past that the industry has built and continued to build on. CNC cut boards can’t finish their own shape and glass themselves, so they take skilled craftsman/shapers to finish the job.

Future looks to the future and means that the possibilities in surfboard design are endless. There’s no end to what can be done.

Future Nostalgia encompasses both of these ideas which are constantly in play within surfboard design.



Australian shaper Dan MacDonald of DMS Surfboards explains how his knowledge of hand-shaping is essential to developing skills using machines to cut boards.

The Knowledge

New designs and experimentation with materials doesn’t happen without some knowledge of the past. An understanding of the history behind surfboards is important.

Looking back you can see that the biggest impacts on designs have generally come from the shapers with a great understanding and knowledge of surfing and shaping history.

Adding to that, they have generally also had a deep understanding of things outside of surfing that has led them to their breakthroughs in design.

dx1 being glassed
A DX1 by DHD Surfboards getting some close attention.

Take fins as an example…

In the late 1930’s, Tom Blake looked to speedboats and introduced a metal Skeg that was around 12 inches long and 4 inches deep to give him more control of his board.

Not long after this, Bob Simmons started experimenting with bottom contours and twin fins. Simmons looked at Blake’s innovation as well as finding outside influences from Lindsay Lord’s writings on naval architecture and hydrodynamics for his planning hulls.

Through experimenting with different variations of singles, twins, bonzers, widow makers (and many more) we eventually landed on what is now seen as the industry standard for most shortboards.

The thruster. Introduced by Simon Anderson.

It was by looking at both the innovation from surfing’s past as well as looking at outside sources that led to surfboard development.



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some shaping, glassing and color in the chemistry surfboards shaping bay
A little color and a whole lot of shaping in the Chemistry Surfboards factory.

Old vs New

In many ways, we find surfboards are similar to sailboats.

The functional (proven) aspects of each are obviously going to play a part in current models as well as future designs. Traditional designs are always going to be favored by some due to the particular feel that you can’t get from new designs and technologies

These may not be the best performance crafts, however surfing and sailing aren’t just about high performance. They’re also about aesthetics and feel.

Both surfboards and sailboats have had plenty of advancements and are going to continue to develop with the use of new materials and constructions.

Matt Biolos of lost surfboards working on a Green Foam Blank
Matt Biolos of Lost Surfboards – an example of leading shapers working with green foam blanks. Photo: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Tradition vs Performance

There are always going to be shapers that want to keep to the nostalgic aspect of surfboard shaping, just as there is always going to be ones constantly pushing the limits of performance. One thing is for sure, there will always be a market for both.

The best thing is, more and more shapers are finding ways of blending the two together. The outcomes show the fantastic, well rounded craftsmanship these shapers possess.

a fresh stack of album surfboards
A fresh stack of Album Surfboards with some funky artworks.

There are also brands that concentrate mostly on high performance surfing. These guys play their own role in pushing the limits of design.

Using feedback from elite level surfers, they can design new models for elite level competition as well as refinements for the average surfer.

mick fanning testing out a ducks nuts replica
Mick Fanning putting his Darren Handley Designs Ducks Nuts Replica to the test.

While they definitely advance surfboard design and performance, they can sometimes be too busy themselves to check out new materials and experiment.

A lot of the time, it is the smaller brands are trying new things to make a name for themselves and differentiate their brand. If they’re lucky, their experiments will sometimes be adopted by the masses.

gordon grubby clark
Founder Gordon “Grubby” Clark of Clark Foam. Photo: Art Brewer.

Why is it changing?

Lots of people suggest that one of the largest reasons in recent times for the advancement of surfboard design and materials was the closure of Clark Foam in 2005.

This left a number of brands high and dry with most having orders waiting, without the blanks to make the boards.

Forced to look into other options, the industry really started looking closer into epoxy boards.

Some shapers had already been using EPS and Epoxy resins, before the end of Clark Foam, which made the transition a little easier, but this shock gave lots of others that push they needed to get on board too.

While there have always been the guys who experiment, the surf world is unfortunately a hard nut to crack with many people afraid of trying something new.

If what they try does work, it then comes down to a supply and demand issue with affordability and availability major issues for people who would need to pay a premium.

haydenshapes future flex technology on a shred sled king
Shaper Hayden Cox of Haydenshapes produces Future Flex, a technology shown above on a Shred Sled model.

Sustainable Materials

You can see this in boards being made with sustainable materials. These technologies have been in place for a little while now but are still only slowly being adopted in a wider sense.

A bio based Epoxy Resin called Entropy Resins uses tree sap instead of petroleum based ingredients, using a renewable source and less energy in production.

Entropy resins have been used for over 6 years now but only recently have people really gotten involved with it. Marko Foams’ recycled EPS is in the same situation.

Surfboards that use these constructions perform just as well as PU/PE constructions, so why wouldn’t you change?

For one thing, they are more expensive. This is mainly due to a lack of demand and a high cost for the raw materials. Some argue, however, that these costs can be leveled out over the lifecycle of your board with many lasting longer than traditional constructions.

nation surfboard being shaped
Getting right into shaping a nice little Nation Surfboard design.

Companies like these didn’t started their business solely to make a profit from the surf industry, but rather to change the way we see and use surfboards.

These experimentations have led to other companies working on other sustainable solutions like completely biodegradable blanks, or using algae as an alternative to PU. Some people are even experimenting with mushrooms as a surfboard core (although there have probably been plenty of designs both good and some questionable that have come from other mushroom use as well).

Obviously though, none of these will succeed unless the new constructions exceed or, at the very least, match the standards of what’s being used today.

canvas surfboards style
A nice little Canvas Surfboards model with plenty of style.

The Best Part…

The best part?

These materials are being producedand starting to be used! They’re also reaching high standards and by adding them into the mix with traditional methods when creating new combinations and designs, you can see how the possibilities are endless.

Blending some of the old and some of the new, you can see how the future nostalgia of surfboards is an ever changing thing.


Share your thoughts and experiences about surfboard shaping in the comments below!
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The Board Engine

Haydenshapes Surfboards - MerlotHaydenshapes Surfboards - CannonHaydenshapes Surfboards - Unit ShifterAlbum Surfboards - MatadorChemistry Surfboards - Wide J 6Vampirate Surfboards - Too Fast for Satan
Change to Pounds/Feet

Find Surfboards

1 2 3 4 5
Hover over numbers for description

Advanced Options

Get more specific results by selecting from the options below:
Shortboard / Performance
Hybrid / Concept
Longboard / Malibu
Retro / Fun
1-2ft 2-4ft 4-6ft 6-8ft 8ft +
Select '5' for the most important and '1' for the least important.
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5

Use our Patent Pending technology as a "GUIDE" to help you find the perfect surfboard: Get prescribed a selection of relevant surfboard models and sizes from industry leading surfboard manufacturers. Compare, customise and buy your perfect board, picking it up from your local shaper or having it delivered safely to your door. Please Note: The Board Engine is in place as a guide only and is constantly being refined and updated with reviews and information to improve its recommendations for a large range of surfers. Read more about Surfboard Volume for further information. Help us improve the Board Engine and Contact Us Here if you are unhappy with your results.



Jack Freestone Something is Calling

by Tommy Barrels on May 6, 2015



Let’s face it, you were already jealous of Jack Freestone when you found out he stole Alana Blanchard from you but just to rub salt in the wound, check out this new edit by Mikey Mallalieu of Jack Freestone ripping on his JF DX1. Freestone’s version of the classic DX1 keeps the deep single concave, but refines the rocker and rails for a more performance orientated surfer. As you can see, this board rips and whips both on the wave and above the lip. Take note…buying a custom DHD Surfboard will make you a better surfer and more appealing to the opposite sex!



South Swell Part 2

by Tommy Barrels on May 5, 2015



Meanwhile, South of the boarder was doing this…Puerto Escondido and Mark Healey on possibley one of the biggest days ever to hit Zicatela Beach!



South Swell

by Tommy Barrels on May 5, 2015



Southern California’s favorite thumping ground, Newport Beach’s Wedge, came alive yesterday May 3 2015. Today is even bigger…can’t wait to see the footage.



The Hypto Krypto goes from 3 to 5

by Tommy Barrels on May 3, 2015



One of the best selling boards in the world at the moment gets a small adjustment. By popular demand, Hayden Cox from Haydenshapes Surfboards gives you the option of riding your Hypto Krypto as a thruster or quad. Hear the words straight from the man behind the board.



The Real Wetsuit by Quiksilver

by Tommy Barrels on May 1, 2015



Ever been late for work because the surf was pumping? Quiksilver may have a solution for you. Could this be the next big thing we see at beached located near metro areas? corporates getting wet before work in their suits ahah. Let us know in the comments below haha.

The Making of the Real Wetsuit




Sharing is Caring

by Tommy Barrels on May 1, 2015



Here’s a cool edit of Tommy Witt and Corey Colapinto from Canvas Surfboards showing some fancy foot work and sharing a few waves.



The Fin Guide

by Boardcave on April 30, 2015


Choosing the right fins for your surfboard

The fins you put in your favorite surfboard can play a huge role in your performance on that board. Some people even claim that your choice in surfboard fins can impact up to 40% of your performance. With so many different boards and different conditions, it’s important to think about different fins and fin setups that work the way the shaper intended the board to be ridden.

The best thing is, just like surfboards, fin design, templates and experimentation is almost endless.

Before you dive head first into testing, its great to know a little bit about how each characteristic can impact your surfing performance. Lets start with the basics.

john john florence throwing his futures fins
John John showing off his Futures Fins.

Fin Basics

Fin Size | Fin Base | Fin Depth | Fin Rake | Fin Foil | Fin Cant | Fin Toe

Some more advanced stuff…

Fin Shape

Part Two

Fiberglass Fins | Composite Fins | G10 Materials | Performance Core Fins | PC Materials and fin flex

Fin Size

The size of the fin is going to impact your performance… A larger fin generally will have more hold and also provide plenty of control in bigger surf. A smaller fin, on the other hand, is going to be more forgiving and loose but you’re going to sacrifice a lot of drive and control in bigger surf.

Surfboard Fin Size explained with FCS II
Difference between the FCS II MF Performance Core Large (on the left) and the MF Performance Core Medium (on the right) fin sizes.

Fin Base

The part of the fin that is actually attached to the board is called the base of the fin or the fin base. A longer (or wider) fin base is going to help with your drive. This translates into drawn out turns. Compare this with a narrow, or short fin base that is going to let you turn a little easier and sharper but without as much of that drive.

Surfboard Fin Base explained with Futures
On the left – The AM2 Futures Fins (top) have a longer base than the Haydenshapes Futures Fins (middle) that are still longer than the F4 Futures BlackStix Fins (bottom). On the right is the EA BlackStix Futures fins.

Fin Depth

The fin depth or fin height refers to just how far the fin extends away for the bottom of the board. A deeper fin in the water is going to have more hold and stability than a shallow fin. The more shallow a fin, you are going to get more release when you throw that tail around through turns.

Fin Rake

When you’re looking at the arc of the fin and how far back it tilts or sweeps, you’re looking at the fin rake. The larger the degree of rake, the more drawn out your turns will be. This is great for those bigger days with a nice long wall to work with. Less fin rake and a more upright fin template, means that you’re going to get some more pivot out of them – great on junkier, weaker days.

Surfboard Fin rake or surfboard fin sweep explained
The degree of surfboard rake or surfboard sweep determines whether you have a looser feeling in your fins or you get more pivot out of them.

Fin Foil

The fin foil is an aerodynamic shape from front to back of the fin. Much like the wings on an plane, this foil generates lift under the board. A fin is usually going to get thicker through the center of the fin and taper smaller out towards the edges.

There are a couple of types of fin foils with many variations on each. Side fins (on twins, thrusters and quads) are generally flat, sometimes curved inward on the inside and with a foil on the outside. Center fins will mostly have equal foil or double foil on each side. These center fins are found on the back of thrusters, single fins and sometimes the rear fins on quads. Double foil can also be found on some more traditional twin fin fish models.

Surfboard Fin foil explained
Fin foil determines the volume of a fin as well as how the water moves past your fins’ sides.

Fin Cant

Fin Cant is the degree of outward angle a fin has in relation to the bottom of your surfboard. If a fin has zero cant it’s position straight up and down at a right angle to your board. This is going to be fast in a straight line, but it won’t give you as much responsiveness through turns. If the cant of your fin is larger, your going to gain a little more of that responsiveness through your turns. It means you can maintain some more drive when your board is tilted on the rail.

Surfboard Fin cant explained
More Fin Cant means your fins are angled outward in relation to the bottom of your surfboard.

Fin Toe

The toe of your fins set up is relating to the angle that your fins are pointing at towards the stringer. This occurs a lot in side fins with the front of the fins pointing towards the center of your board. This can help create pressure on the outside foil of the fin. This in turn, allows you to again have a little more responsiveness on your board.

Surfboard Fin Toe explained
The Toe of a surfboard fin above shows the side fins angled towards the stringer.

Check out some of Mick Fanning’s thoughts on thruster vs quad setups as well as why he chooses to change up his FCS II fin sizes.



Mick Fanning explains how he uses his FCS II fins in different conditions.

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Fin Shape

Now that you’ve got the basics and all the lingo for fins, you need to understand a little more complicated aspects about how fin shape can contribute to the overall surfing performance.

Your fin’s shape impacts directly on how your surfboard is going to perform. One way to comprehend this is to use a Single Fin for our descriptions.

When you get down to it, thrusters, quads, side fins are more or less variations of these characteristics just in a smaller version.

Flex is one of these characteristics that can directly relate to fin performance.

Flex will contribute to your projection out of turns, which in turn will produce your speed and effect control. More details on flex will follow, but for the purpose of this article, lets look at how flex and shape of fins go hand in hand.

Lets go back to our longboard and check out how it’s going to perform using 4 different fin shapes.

The Flex Fin, the Rake Fin, the Pivot Fin and the D Fin.

Corey Colapinto of canvas surfboards
Corey Colapinto of Canvas Surfboards getting groovy on some waves.

The The Flex Fin (with maximum flex) is a really versatile fin that can be used in just about anything from shorter stubbies to 10 foot nose riders. These flex fins are going to feature a wider base that really tapers down into a narrow tip and doesn’t offer too much drag. When coming off a bottom turn, your flex fin will give you a tonne of projection.

This reflects what we mention earlier where the more rake you have in your fin, the more you can draw out your turns compared with a rigid upright fin template for more pivot in tighter turns.

The Rake Fin (with medium flex) is the next most flexible and sits between the flex fin and the pivot fin along the spectrum. With a wide base like before but with a little more width in the tip of the fin you can see a fairly vertical base that sweeps back towards the end. This combines nicely the projection and maneuverability of the flex fin with some of the hold you get from a Pivot Fin.

The Pivot Fin (with very little flex) is your standard go-to fin-shape for nose riding. You can recognize this fin by it’s full, vertical outline with a wide base. It’s designed to slow you down a little and help keeps the tail further in the water while you’re up on the nose. You can also still step on the tail and pivot (swing) the board around in a relatively tight radius.

The D Fin (with no flex) isn’t going to be the most forgiving fin or the most versatile to surf. Usually you see these on a more classic, heavier log. A little harder to turn and not as stable when you’re on the nose, this fin is more for getting maximum trim straight down the line.

With a super wide base combined with a super wide tip, these fins get their name from generally appearing in the shape of a D. Sometimes you can find them with a straighter, more vertical forward edge with a curved side aft, and sometimes they’re found with curved edge forward and vertical edge aft.

You would usually place these fins as far back of your board as possible for maximum down the line trim.

Surfboard Fin shape vs surfboard fin flex
Flex your fins! The degree of flex from least flex to most from left to right: The Flex Fin, the Rake Fin, the Pivot Fin and the D Fin.

Surfboard Fins 101

So now you know a little more about fins. With literally an infinite number of surfboard and surfboard fins combinations, you’re going to have a good time testing them all out.

Check out Part Two of our Fins Guide below for a better understanding of materials and construction in surfboard fin design.



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Part Two: Construction and Materials in Fin Design

part two construction and materials

The same way surfboard combinations and design is endless, so are surfboard fin combinations and choices. It’s only through experimentation that the best performing fins are going to be found and with so many aspects like materials, construction, cores and design able to be adjusted, it’s no wonder great discoveries are still being made.

However, while experimentation and innovation are great, there are also some proven design aspects that have stood the test of time, and some things we’ve learned to look for when we’re matching our fins with our surfboards…

surfboard fins being put under pressure by steph gilmore
Australian Steph Gilmore showing the pressure that can be put on your fins and why it’s so important to use high-quality materials and design and construction to improve performance.

Recap of Part 1…

In part one, we talked about flex and fin shape and how they are key elements in making a fin act the way it does.

Flexible, raked back fins for sweeping turns and some projection can be used, or a more stiff and upright fins to give you sharper turns and a quick release. With a wide range of varying degrees in between both.

there are plenty of surfboard fins on the market
Just a few surfboard fin models ready to be experimented with in all types of conditions.

Fiberglass Fins

One of the traditional constructions found is the fiberglass fin. The construction of these fins involve laying up multiple layers of fiberglass cloth and resin and then cutting and foiling the fiberglass fin shape by hand. These fins are strong and can basically be made just as stiff or as flexible as you want them to be.

This type of construction is great for traditional surfboard styles like a mid-length or a longboard . You can make any style of fin for anything from a high performence shortboard temolate to a big heavy D-fin using this method. The attributes of these fins will be as good as your attention to detail when foiling the sides.

Due to their flex properties and lightweight nature, fiberglass fins are a great option for shortboards. However, the drawback is how long they can take to produce and just how much time, detail and attention needs to go into making these by hand.

This is one of the reasons why composite fins are generally more popular for short boards.

different fin material constructions
Some of the FCS fin constructions shown above can influence everything from drive, flex, control and release.

Composite Fins

Composite fins are fins that use more than one material within the construction.

Standard fins that come with most boards are generally made of a basic natural composite.

Once you have all the equipment, it becomes extremely easy to produce a large number of these fins.

The technique for making these fins is called Resin Transfer Molding or RTM. This process involves injecting resin with fiberglass into a mold that results in a plastic like fin that’s both lightweight and strong.

While these are great to produce on mass, you definitely can’t quite get the right flex properties that you want in a fin.



Dave Rastovich talking about how quad setups help his style of surfing; how material can affect both the flex and stiffness of a fin; and how his Rasta Quad Fins incorporate bamboo into the base of the fin to promote strength and extra drive.

G10 Materials

The next progression up from the basic Natural Composite fin would be a fin made using G10 material.

The G10 method is widely used through several industries and uses an epoxy and fiberglass laminate. Fins made this way are both flexible and extremely durable. G10 fins are generally a little more stiff and have controlled flex that results in plenty of drive and control.

So how could fins get more hightech? This is where we start to play around with things like cores and high grade materials like carbon and kevlar.

Performance Core Fins

You can make the core of a surfboard fin out of almost any material you want. The most popular core going around high performance fins at the moment is generally a honeycomb/hexagonal design thats made from lightweight and extremely strong materials. This type of design provides a unique stiffness and flex pattern through the fin in a super lightweight construction.

This process generally uses the standard RTM method mentioned above and has standard fiberglass and resin wrapped around the core.

This performance core style of fin has changed fin development forever. However, it doesn’t end there.

It’s the exploration into ultra high tech materials that make this style of fin progress to the next level.

dion atkinson getting aerial in a big way
Getting your fins out Dion Agius style.

PC Materials and fin flex

Carbon, kevlar and texalium can be used either individually or in combination and provide very different flex patterns.

Different “skins” have different strength to weight ratios and need to be placed strategically on a fin. This results in a wide variety of fin flex patterns.

Each different design, construction and type of material is going to store and release energy generated through your turns or when driving down the line in very different ways.

These kinds of constructions and crazy materials experimentation are generally found in ultra high performance fins and – like we’ve said all along – can be combined in as many different configurations as you can think of.

fcs surfboard fins and futures fins with mick and john john
Mick Fanning with his FCS II dual tabs and John John showing his single tab Futures Fins.

In Summary…

Choosing fins, like choosing surfboards, should be an ongoing thing as your surfing progresses and is nearly unlimited in the combinations you can try out.

The constructions and materials mentioned above only touch the surface of what is possible in experimentation and fin design. There are an unlimited amount of combinations that can be used for the cores and skins of fins that all play around with flex patterns, weight and the strength of your fins.

With all of these various materials combined with foils, shapes, design and everything else, you can see why the experimentation of surfboard fins is going to continue on for some time!

So next time you grab your board and throw in your usual fins, try changing them up. Use something different and you may just find the combination that changes the way you surf forever.

Share your thoughts and experiences about surfboard fins in the comments below! To keep up to date with The Surfers Corner latest articles, make sure you follow us on the Boardcave Facebook Page and on our Boardcave Instagram.

Reading this on an iPhone? Check us out on Instagram here:



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Why Is Your Surfboard So Cheap?

by Adam Fischer on April 29, 2015


Why you shouldn’t complain about the price of surfboards

Surfboards, if you stop and really think about it, are cheap. The prices of surfboards have hardly budged over the years, yet the process and the materials involved have continued to rise at a steady rate.

People often don’t realize how much work actually goes into building a good quality Custom Surfboard. They will either walk into their local shop and pick a board off the rack (yes, they will pay attention to the price of the board, but less so when it has a big name attached to it) or they will call up a local shaper, order a custom and when they hear the price, wonder why so high. It seems that a good chunk of people reaching out to their local shaper expect a “bro-deal” since they are not necessarily a big name brand. Almost like they are doing the shaper a favor by ordering one of his boards instead of picking a stock “name brand” off a rack.


Those fins aren’t going to glass themselves. Photo: Watermans Guild

I guarantee you that if you get a custom from a local shaper, your surfing will improve and your money will be well spent. Not only are you going to be getting a board made to suit your surfing ability, size, and the waves you normally surf, you are also getting a board that will more than likely last you way longer than you would expect.


Michael Townsend knows he has a solid glass job on his custom Ledge by Album Surfboards. Photo: Jeff Davis

I assure you that your shaper doesn’t just pocket all that hard earned cash you fork over to him. The overhead for a shaper is extremely high and his margins are extremely low. Not only does he have to pay for the time and materials needed to build your board, he has to pay for a much larger team of people than you think, as well as rent, gas, electricity, etc, etc.

The price of materials needed for your board seem to rise with oil prices, yet they don’t come down when oil prices drop. But the shaper takes that hit. Your board needs a shaper (even when machine cut the real shaping lies in the refinement and finishing of the shape), it needs a laminator, then moves onto the hot-coater, than the fin guy (whether fin boxes or glass ons), then the sander, then the glosser, back to the sander again, a polisher, and quality assurance and packing. And don’t let my words mis-guide you…each one of these steps requires years of experience, high attention to fine detail, a lot of patience and a tonne of skill to even do a half decent job. Try sanding a 5 fin glass on bonzer without hitting the weave. That is why there is usually a team of people involved in building your board, they all specialize in one or some of these areas.


Try getting your sanding pad in between those fins and see how good you do. Photo: Surfy Surfy

I strongly urge all of you who haven’t already, to have a stab at making your own board. If you don’t have space or the tools to do so, there are a number of fantastic places that can show you the ropes and supply everything you need. Shaper Supply Co in the LA area, Foam Ez around Orange County and Shaper Studios down in San Diego, all have great programs where you can learn how to build your own board


Better check with the wife before you attempt this at home. The floors at Diamond Glassing in San Diego

I guarantee once you have tried your hand at one board, you will never question the price of a good quality surfboard again.

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Calculate your Surfboard Volume – The Board Engine


Board Engine – Find your Surfboard Volume


Panda Surfboards - Little RipstickNation Surfboards - SteinriderNation Surfboards - Ric Kane ProCanvas Surfboards - Bliss FishDHD Surfboards - MonsterEmery Surfboards - Cannon
Change to Pounds/Feet

Find Surfboards

1 2 3 4 5
Hover over numbers for description

Advanced Options

Get more specific results by selecting from the options below:
Shortboard / Performance
Hybrid / Concept
Longboard / Malibu
Retro / Fun
1-2ft 2-4ft 4-6ft 6-8ft 8ft +
Select '5' for the most important and '1' for the least important.
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5

Use our Patent Pending technology as a "GUIDE" to help you find the perfect surfboard: Get prescribed a selection of relevant surfboard models and sizes from industry leading surfboard manufacturers. Compare, customise and buy your perfect board, picking it up from your local shaper or having it delivered safely to your door. Please Note: The Board Engine is in place as a guide only and is constantly being refined and updated with reviews and information to improve its recommendations for a large range of surfers. Read more about Surfboard Volume for further information. Help us improve the Board Engine and Contact Us Here if you are unhappy with your results.



Are you surfing the wrong board?

by Boardcave on April 20, 2015


How Surfboard Volume is changing the industry

Recently there’s been a big push by shapers and surfers to involve Volume Metrics and Surfboard Volume Calculators to really dial in their surfboard quiver.

Since CAD (Computer Assisted Design) files and programs have progressed into the surfboard shaping bays, volume has become a more measurable and integral part of the design process. Volume is now seen as essential for establishing the best board for a surfer’s age, ability and wave type they surf most.

Elite surfers like Kelly Slater, Carissa Moore, Mick Fanning and Steph Gilmore can feel the difference when even as little as half a Liter is changed in their equipment. Even this tiny change in volume can really impact high performance surfing especially in high performance boards.

While some beginners may not even think about the volume of a surfboard, they’ll sure learn quick how important the right equipment can be. After they’ve watched their friends riding waves all the way to the beach while they’re still struggling to paddle, they’ll see why finding the right beginner surfboard for them can be the difference between sticking with surfing or giving up early.

But how do you find the right volume for you?

Darren Handley of DHD Surfboards and Mick Fanning checking surfboards
Mick and Darren checking out their DHD Surfboards handy-work.

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Knowing Your Surfboard Volume

Determining the right volume for your surfboards requires thinking about many different factors. Your age, surfing ability, frequency and the types of waves to surf are all important in finding the right surfboard volume.

External measurements of a surfboard are a great starting point, but the distribution of the foam through the entire outline can also have major impacts on the performance of your surfboard.

By knowing your volume, you can help determine the right equipment for your level of surfing. Luckily, there is plenty of information out there today including volume calculators and volume charts to help you determine the volume that is best for you. However, lots of these volume calculators can be fairly general and often only take your weight into consideration.

What if there are other factors involved?

The Board Engine is an advanced calculator that gives you examples of boards and takes your age, level of fitness, surfing ability, type of waves and style of board you prefer all into consideration.

Take a simple example. Say you have two people, one of them is 25 and the other is 60. Even if they’re both 5’10 and 180 LBS, they probably shouldn’t be surfing the same board. Surfboard volume calculators need to take this information into consideration.

Finding the Volume of a Surfboard and the Use of CAD programs

Up until recently, volume was considered without consistently being measured. You used to just feel the rails and throw the board under your arm and that would give you an idea of how she was going to float.

People still swear by this and anyone who’s been around surfing will tell you it’s still a good system. If you have some surfing experience, you will always be able to use the feel test to understand to some extent how that board will perform for you.

The use of CAD systems have created a situation where shapers can easily refine a surfboard’s volume without having the hassle of using a displacement tank. This makes it easier to find the right dimensions and dial in equipment for your optimal performance. As mentioned before, advanced surfers can feel the difference in as little as half a Liter change in volume.

So now that we can find and refine the volume of a surfboard easily, we have to consider how surface area, outline and distribution of foam relates to the surfboard volume.

Ryan Engles of Canvas Surfboards handshaping surfboards
Canvas Surfboards head shaper Ryan Engles getting his hands dirty on a custom surfboard.

Volume and the Shape of a Board

Your surfboard may look bigger, but that doesn’t mean it floats better. A 6’2 short-board could very well have less volume than a 5’4 small wave machine.

Take a look at two boards with similar dimensions.

Let’s say both are 5’8 x 20″ wide (at widest point) and 2.5″ thick (at thickest point). The first board (no. 1) has a pulled in tail, while the second board (no. 2) has a wider tail. Board no. 1 has a refined, pulled in nose, while the second board’s nose is more round. Board number 2 is going to have significantly more volume than board number 1 because of it’s outline.

surfboard volume comparison canvas vs album
Board Comparison: Canvas Surfboards Yoshi on the left and Album Surfboards Freeform on the right.

This does not mean that one board is better for you than the other.

Board number 1 is likely to give you a bit more performance in your short-board that will go well in steep, hollow waves.

Board number 2 is probably more of a grovel board – like the Panda Egg or the Nation Chub – for softer waves with less push.

Finding your right volume will include a combination of board dimensions and the volume combined with the surface area while taking into account your age, ability, fitness and types of waves you surf.

But don’t just stick with one volume for all your boards either.

In good, quality waves, too much volume will hurt your performance. Yes, you’ll find paddling into the waves easy, but setting your rail and then transitioning from rail to rail will be difficult. In these circumstances, you may find surfing something like an Emery Nemesis, Album Context or a DHD Sweetspot will give you better results.

Similarly, in less powerful and softer waves, if your board doesn’t have enough volume, your wave count is going to go down. Bogging your rails and sinking into the wave could even ruin your session. These kind of waves call for a mush machine like the – Album Swing or the Stamps FX – to keep you going.

You really need to find a happy balance between your type of equipment you use and the waves you surf.

Construction and Materials

different surfboard construction types
The boys from the left: Haydenshapes Hypto Krypto, The Panda Norts, Chemistry’s Wide J 6, Stamps Grinder X, DHD DX1.

There is plenty of speculation about the construction of a surfboard and it’s relationship to surfboard volume. Some people claim that EPS and Epoxy boards give you more ‘float’ on the water and that you feel like you’re sitting much more on top of the wave than on a standard Polyurethane and Polyester board.

While it still remains a contentious topic, both styles remain extremely popular for differing reasons. My epoxy boards definitely feel lighter than my poly boards, but does this actually impact on how much they float?

Do CAD programs and displacement tanks really knows the difference between two constructions?

The thing to remember is that while both constructions will have the same (or very similar) volumes, your performance is going to change. This has nothing to do with the volume of your board, but instead, the weight of the board.

You will see that while paddling around the line up and your paddling into waves is very similar between the two, your performance ON the wave is going to change. By using the weight of a poly board you can get down the line easier while using a lighter epoxy board will help you whip around turns and get some airs. This is just one way their performance differs.

When the conditions aren’t great, you can also find that the poly board’s extra weight will help get through choppier water instead of leaving you bouncing around the wave on something lighter.

The Verdict

Don’t waste your time surfing with the wrong equipment!

Using more advanced volume calculators like our Board Engine you can take into consideration many of the variables needed to determine what type of equipment you should be looking for. This is going to help set you in the right direction.

All the tools are out there to help you dial in your ideal board or boards – because everyone should have a quiver!

Use the tools and with some common sense, experience, and your shapers knowledge to help determine construction, and other helpful tips, you will be well on your way to building the quiver of your dreams.

Share your thoughts and experiences about surfboard volume in the comments below! To keep up to date with The Surfers Corner latest articles, make sure you follow us on the Boardcave Facebook Page and on our Boardcave Instagram.

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Calculate your Surfboard Volume – The Board Engine


Board Engine – Find your Surfboard Volume


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