Baby got back - Surfboard tails 101

As water moves in its natural state, it’s free to come and go as it pleases. Your surfboard moving through the water creates friction. Water moves slowest halfway along your board and then accelerates as it exits the tail end. That said, tail outline is one of the most important aspects in surfboard design.

*Authors note for new surfers:

Quick water release = drive= acceleration. We say this to talk about a FAST board.
Stable means exactly that, easy to ride.
Snappy means a board responds quickly to the surfers demands.
Skatey is a result of rail to rail  transitions to create acceleration, a characteristic of wider tails.
Bite and hold refer to a tail that sits lower in the water giving the board more grip under your feet.


Squash Tail/Rounded Squash: Stable, drivey, snappy yet smooth. A popular shortboard shape, the squash is a modified square tail. The rounded edges of a squash tail allow for smooth, rapid water release. This means a LOT of acceleration while still holding a wicked turn and allowing for crisp release off the lip. This tail shape has both hold and release up to about two feet overhead.

Try our Ultimate and Ladle Longboard for plankin’ any wave you want.  
Try our Whip It and Standard for ripping on a shorty in punchy beach break.  


Pin Tail/ Rounded Pin Control, hold and bite. This tail shape allows water release over a long curve. This slower release of water may take away from acceleration but when it’s pumping, you actually need to wash off speed when driving through a long turn. A pin tail benefits you by fitting into tight spaces, aka, the barrel. The pros use a pintail in big waves so that they can draw out huge turns and sit as deep in the pit as possible. When you think of a pin tail, think Pipe, think Jerry Lopez!

Try our Poacher for picking off long soft wedges at your local point break.   Go with the Optimist when it gets steep and deep. For racey, steep reef growers, take out the Karma Chameleon

Swallow TailLoose, Skatey, drivey. This shape is a wide squash with a cut-away center that turns the tail into a set of flexible pin tails. This tail shape directs water towards the cut-away center of the tail for quick, clean water release. Having two pins instead of one creates more lift and allows the surfer to absolutely shred through turns in smaller to medium waves.  



Try our Jack or Codfather for a skatey yet drivey feel in seriously any wave you want, they haul!

Variations – A square tail is an old school version of a squash tail without rounded edges. A round or thumb tail is a compromise between a widened pin and squash tail.  A bat tail is a square shape with pronounced tips that give more bite when a wider tail cranks through a turn.

Try out our Bean which boasts a massive round thumb tail. It's designed to turn junky surf into a skatepark or fire off huge airs in bigger waves.    

As you look into your next Degree33 surfboard, consider the wave you plan to surf with it. This will lead you to the best booty for your board. A smaller wave needs more drive on your behalf; a larger wave needs more stability as the juice is mucho! Somewhere within our walls is your perfect board for your favorite wave. If you can’t find it, we’ll build it for you. We can get you going toes to the nose, or getting shacked off your gourd. Come have a look!

Garek Hurt
Garek Hurt


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.