What is a Hybrid Surfboard… and what does it take to be considered a hybrid surfboard? If you really break it down, the Hybrid (also known as the All Rounder) could technically be the blending of two or more design concepts. But if you take it that literally, every surfboard is essentially a hybrid surfboard. It doesn’t matter what kind of board you are talking about; every board on the planet has a blend of designs concepts within it to some degree.
But let’s lighten up and not take things too literally. The term "hybrid surfboard" is likened to a style of board that is becoming more popular, especially as more people open their minds and try them out.
The general hybrid as we know it now, is the blending of the fish surfboard and a high performance shortboard (HPSB). There are a lot of elements at play here, but the goal is to get a board that is easy to paddle, very stable and fast like a fish, yet with the maneuverability of a HPSB. These boards are also commonly referred to as a Fun Board.
The break down of a board like this is going feature elements like low rocker, wider outline (with wide point pushed forward), more thickness throughout (especially under the chest), modern style rails, functional bottom contours and, depending on the performance level intended, a slightly pulled in tail.
The Hypto Krypto by Haydenshapes Surfboards is probably the most well know board globally that is considered a Hybrid style shape, but the design is not as new as you think. Pretty much every brand or shaper has a hybrid style of board in their range of models and rightly so. In fact, hybrid style shapes are so functional for the everyday surfer that, if they are not already, they will become more common than a traditional HPSB.
Let’s face it, you are probably not a pro surfer and you probably work a normal job or go to school, only affording you limited time that you can get out in that water. We all have obligations outside of surfing that keep us from surfing on a regular basis (except for pro’s, the unemployed or the retired). If you only have high performance surfboards in your quiver, it really sucks when your brief window to surf holds onshore, high tide mushy waves. You’ll go check the surf with your trusty 6’1 x 18 3/4 x 2 3/8, and unless it is head high and rippable or hollow, you are going home.
Having a hybrid surfboard in your quiver is going to keep you in the water on those average to below average days, as well as the head high+ and hollow days. You may even find that your hybrid might replace your shorty on the good days…that’s how versatile they can be.
The flat rocker combined with the width and thickness allow you to get into waves with ease, and keep you flying down the line, right through fat sections with little effort on the mushy days. Even on the good days, where there might be a slow section you need to negotiate until you can get to the inside where is stands up and gets ripple again, the hybrid surfboard shines.
Even though they have lower rocker, their ability to be surfed at least a few inches shorter than your standard shorty makes up for this by the way they can fit in the pocket so well. The rocker you find on a short board is not as essential since your board will fit within that tight pocket no problem. That shorter board comes in extra handy in smaller surf too, as you can whip turns around in a tighter radius than something longer, allowing you to squeeze as many turns in as short of an area as possible.
On the bigger better days, these board can still perform. That low rocker might have you concerned about their ability to stick late drops, or when coming off a top turn on a steep faced wave. There are easy solutions to this problem however. First of all, the idea of these board allowing you to get into waves earlier help with avoiding the possibility of taking a late drop. It is still bound to happen every now and then however and it doesn’t address coming off the top of a turn on a steep faced wave.
Having design elements like a little Vee in the nose area can help with this. That convex Vee will act similar to the bow of a boat. It’ll help displace the water around the nose, keeping that nose from diving under the water and pearling. Not much Vee is needed, just enough to account for the lower rocker, if you plan on surfing this board in good quality hollow surf.
This can easily be blended right into whatever bottom contours you prefer, like the trusty single to double concave which works so great when you are back up on a plane. Add in a little Vee through the tail and you can transition from rail to rail faster which will help account for the wider outline, all helping to keep performance levels up on this style of board.
A board like this is generally thicker with more volume in a small package. By keeping that thickness under your chest for paddling and giving it a nice low, soft rail, your board can grip into the face of the wave while giving you plenty of stability. You can focus more on your surfing and lining up what’s coming down the line, instead of spending time finding your balance and keeping your stability.
These boards work, and can work really well once you get used to them. Just take a look a general shortboard design these days anyways. Even the top level pro’s are riding shortboards that are a little wider with a touch less rocker than what you would find in the 90’s, or even a few years ago for that matter.
The Hybrid takes that idea to a whole new level, they are highly functional for the everyday average surfer. They will allow you to maximize your available surfing time, getting you into waves earlier and easier, through sections faster and still performing at higher levels than a fish or something similar.
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