What Do Different Surfboard Shapes Do?

October 15, 2022

What Do Different Surfboard Shapes Do?

We often meet people who buy surfboards without any understanding on what their shape will do.  They often say they picked the board because it simply "looks cool" and come to find out the hard way that it does not ride the way they expected.  Beyond the basics of general board shape, each shape has certain characteristics that makes those boards behave in the specific way that they do. To help you understand what is making your board behave like it does we have compiled a surface level overview of the most common board shape specifics.

Nose Shapes

Nose shapes are pretty straight forward. Typically the wider and rounder the nose the easier it is to paddle into waves and get your board to plane (like a longboard). The more pointed your nose is the more maneuverable your surfboard will be (like a short- board). There are variations in nose shape but as a general guide, this is how they work.


There are lots of different tail shapes in use today. However, there are four primary surfboard tail shapes that have stood the test of time, and are the most common.


A squash tail is probably the most common and universal tail shape available. It will provide you with good stability while still maintaining a high level of maneuverability. It is the tail found on our Ultimate longboards and our All Terrain Vehicle shortboard template.


A square tail is very similar to the squash tail with very sharp corners instead of rounded corners.  This functions very much the same as a squash tail but features a different asthetic.  Like a squash tail it will provide you with good stability while still maintaining a high level of maneuverability. It is the tail found on our Classic log longboards.


Rounded pin tails sit deeper in water and are designed for a little more control and hold. This is best used for pocket surfing when having the most rail contact is crucial.


The fish or swallow tail, is sort of a combo tail as it will combine the hold of a pin tail with some of the maneuverability features of the squash. You will find these tails on a fair number of hybrid boards when you are trying to combine elements of different types. It will also help smooth out your ride when the waves get rough.

The design of the tail provides planing speed and lift down the line while also allowing rail to rail transitions to be made with ease. This tail is great for small waves and surfers looking for hold during wide and deep carves.


Concaves are to surfboards what hull design is to boats. It controls how the water flows under the board. Think about it this way, if you have a boat with a really flat hull design, that boat will bounce around on the waves instead of cutting through them. Similarly, the way the bottom side of your surfboard is designed will effect how your board will paddle, glide, plane, accelerate, cut through chop, move rail to rail, etc.

There are a whole variety of concaves, and even more concave combinations, but below are the most commonly use concaves on modern surfboards.


As you may have guessed from the name, this design features just the one concave running down the middle of the surfboard from the nose towards the tail. The single concave is best suited for big clean waves. The single concave will enable tighter turns on the waves. The single concave is best suited to the surfer who isn’t carrying any extra pounds.


A Vee-Type can work really well with the retro fish, funboard or longboard designs. The extra width of the fish tail gives you heaps more speed on the smaller waves. Placing a V-type on the bottom allows the surfer to turn the board from rail to rail smoother. This makes the surfboard much looser. A win-win situation, speed and loose turns on small waves.


The nose concave is used when walking to the front of your board is what you’re after. It is a spooned out concave on just the nose that provides extra lift so that your weight out front is stabilized.


Combo concaves are more and more common. Single to Double is the most used combination. This combo will provide good glide and stability while the double concave at the tail forces the water off the tail and on to the fins increasing maneuverability. For a concave with the most universal feature set go with the single to double.


Be very care of surfboards that have a flat bottom or no reference to what type of concave it has. It you were to get a board with a flat bottom, the way the water flows underneath the board is very unpredictable and causes great instability, lousy hold, and a sloppy feel. Buyers beware if you don’t know what it has.

Believe it or not, there is actually a lot more to surfboard shapes and design than is detailed here.  We attempted to cover the basics to help you understand what your board is doing when it is in the water.  If you need help choosing a board or want to learn more about surfboard design, feel free to email us surf@degree33.com or call the shop (800) 920-2363.

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