surfboards for wavepools
3 mins
Min Read Time

1 Shaper, 3 Boards, 1 Wavepool: A Surfboard Design Experiment

Ever wondered how different surfboard tails perform in a wave pool? In this video, I bring my shaping background to the test by designing and riding three distinct tail shapes.

As a lifelong surfer, shaper and coach, I've always been fascinated by the intricate relationship between surfboard design and wave dynamics. I’m constantly thinking about different shapes and how they interact with the conditions to get the most out of each wave.

So, when the opportunity arose to visit URBNSURF Melbourne, I knew it was the perfect chance to put some new boards to the test.  

Discover which tail shape brings out the best in speed, power, and flow.


The elusive magic board

Over six trips to URBNSURF and 18 different boards, I’ve never felt like I’ve found the ideal shape. Some would generate great speed but be lacking on the top turn, while others just didn’t offer enough manoeuvrability in the pocket.


Back at home I designed three new boards for my next visit. All three had similar dimensions except for the tails, where I chose three distinct shapes: square, round, and swallow. I was interested in seeing how the different tails would react in the water and if it would bring me any closer to finding the magic wavepool board.


Better board = better surfs. Enrol in our course to find the best board for you. 

What’s it like at URBNSURF?

The URBNSURF experience is undeniably fun, but it differs from surfing in the ocean. Unlike ocean waves which have forgiving power zones, URBNSURF waves require precise positioning in the pocket. Easier said than done.


A typical wave in the ocean will draw up power from the bottom while throwing down speed from the top. As surfers, we aim to harness the natural energy of the wave while maintaining a smooth flow. Although URBNSURF offers tons of push and speed, the wave has a slightly sloped lip, making it trickier to execute turns.


My goal was to find out which tail shape would provide the best ride, where I could stay in the pocket while maintaining speed and flow throughout turns.

The difference between AVERAGE surfers and expert | URBNSURF Wave Pool


Putting the tails to the test

Before hitting the water, I didn’t know what to expect. How would the different tail shapes affect the way I ride the wave?

After trying each board, I was really surprised by the outcome.


The results show how different designs will change the line you take on a wave and, ultimately, define your surfing experience.

Which Surfer Are You? The 4 Lines Of Surfing


The square tail, with its straight rail and efficient water displacement, promised exceptional speed off the bottom and the potential for tight turns. I was impressed by the hold and release it offered but had to be careful to avoid over-surfing and losing control in critical sections.


Next up was the round tail, which stood out on the bottom turn. It paddled really well and allowed for quick transitions between manoeuvres, providing tight turns and impressive drive off the bottom. Unfortunately, it lacked control during top turns, where it tended to pivot too quickly and disrupt my flow.


The swallow tail presented a different dynamic altogether, with its flatter lines and phenomenal speed off the bottom. However, it lacked responsiveness through critical sections, where the board tracked a little straighter than I would have liked. Although the swallow had great speed retention, it wasn’t really what I was looking for in terms of manoeuvrability in the pocket.

Dynamic front on surfing with Taj Burrow.


The verdict

In the end, I found myself drawn back to the square tail.


For what I was after – the ability to find the pocket of the wave, harness power on the bottom and maintain speed on top – the square tail stood out in all the key areas.  


Find the board that suits you

 At the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference and finding the right board for you. It’s your connection to the wave that matters most; using the wave’s energy to surf with flow and maximise the fun.

If this has helped shed some light on how different board shapes affect the way you surf, you should consider signing up for an OMBE membership. You’ll get full access to our range of coaching programs and resources, as well as joining a global community of surfers just like you. Head over to our membership page to kickstart your journey today.  

Written by
Clayton Neinaber
surf coaching