Shaping your own board will help you improve as a surfer
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Why you need to shape your own board

By shaping your own board, you learn to understand how each individual design function of the board works and how the whole system comes together and how it wants to be ridden.

How well do you know your own equipment?

Do you know what your boards are designed for and how each part connects? Or is it more just a case of "oh this one has this many litres and therefore is for me..."

Volume... I actually want you to forget about it and never think about it again. It's marketing... it's a gimmick... It says nothing about the design of the board and only a measure of how well it floats. You can have a 30L modern shortboard or you could have a 30L late 90's Kelly Slater inspired toothpick that's super skinny and long...but still the same volume.

So again, how well do you know what you are riding and what the bloody hell is it designed to do? Last week on Surf Hacks, Ant discussed his experience shaping his own board for the first time. There's a lot to unpack there....especially Ant's horrible choice of colours (sorry Ant 🤷♂️)

But instead of just unpacking everything they said, I want to share with you a behind the scenes sneak peek at my own experience where I shaped a board the other month.

What board shape is best for your surfing
That moment when you're lost and think how is this all working again?

Why you need to shape your own board

So, just imagine you're shaping your own board, you have to start making decisions on every aspect of the board and how those all connect together. Width, thickness, rail types, tail type, concave, rocker, nose etc. The list goes on.

At each point, you are making a trade-off. More width, more flotation, more stability but harder to turn. By the time you've made a board, whether it's a lemon or magic carpet, you'll know how it wants to be ridden.

My own board

So, I made a 9'0" Log. Yep, nothing hi-performance going on there. Why? Because it's not always about doing this or that. This is pure fun. Meant for nose riding, cruising and style. Something for when it's small and this ties into other parts of training. Want to know what a log is great for? Stacking your stance. Cross stepping teaches you amazing balance, stance and style. Also great control and drawn out turns. It's a boat, it isn't turning quickly.

Shape your own longboard
9'0" x 23" x 3" - 10 inch single fin - meant for maximum fun and being a nuisance catching all the waves

Anyways I almost made some huge mistakes in the shaping bay. Those choices at each stage are vital. This board is meant for nose riding and other than the concave at the nose to create lift, the rail and tail have a huge impact on how well it nose rides. I was umming and ahhing, thinking it'd be nice to turn.

On a traditional board, the rails at the tail tend to transition from rounded rails to a flat edge. A rounded rail will hold in the water whereas the edge will slice the water. I thought, yeah that'd help with turns but it wasn't until I thought about the prospect of nose riding I realised I was going to make a huge mistake.

See when you're nose riding, the tail is high in the pocket, that giant single fin is stuck in the wave holding, but the rounded rails are also being hugged by the wave. If they had an edge, they would release, making that nose ride extremely difficult. Setting the intitial rails prior to rounding them

What you can do to help understand your board

I get it, not everyone will go out and shape a board tomorrow, so I want to help you understand your board a bit better. If you grab the board you use the most, sit down and have a look at all the aspects that combine to make it a whole. Start thinking about how it performs now and how it will perform if you make changes to it's shape.

For those in England wnating to make a board

If you want to make your own board, want a hand in doing it and being shown the ropes, you can do exactly what I did at Open Surf in Cornwall.

They run shaping workshops where through the wonderful guidance of Ollie Cooper and the team, you can learn more about the board you make and ride. Whether it's a shortboard, twinny, mid-length or log, the guys will walk you through it. Highly recommended. Otherwise just a great surf store, coffee shop and killer brownies. If you do want to know more, just let them know Luke from OMBE sent you and they will help you out.

Get the Right Board For You

We have our newest program called "Get the right board for you". This will break down every part of a surfboard, how it functions within the design, what boards we recommend for certain skill levels and how boards fit in with what you are training. It's a giant wealth of shaping knowledge, the last 30 years of Clay's experience.

Have you shaped a board? How well do you think you know your own board? Let me know in the replies!

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching