A surfboard is a specially shaped piece of equipment carved out of a foam blank made from buoyant materials. Its purpose is to create a surface upon which the surfer can ride waves. There are two main types of surfboards. A longboard is at least nine inches in length and has a rounded nose, while a shortboard is typically between 5’5”-6’5” in length and has a pointed nose.

It is common for beginners to start surfing with a longboard. The added length and heavier weight create more stability in the water and make it easier for the surfer to pop up. However, longboards are slower and harder to carve compared to shortboards.

Depending on their level of skill or personal preferences, a surfer may have a quiver, or collection, of surfboards with different shapes and designs that provide a different surfing experience.

Parts of a Surfboard

A surfboard has the following components:

  • Deck
  • Nose
  • Tail
  • Rails
  • Fin
  • Rocker

The deck is the top side of the surfboard, and it is the section of the board where the surfer stands and kneels or lays flat to paddle out from the shore. Like the prow of a ship, the nose is the front-most part of the board, and the tail is at the rear. A rounded nose is most commonly seen on longboards, and a pointed nose is a key element of the shortboard design. The rails connect the nose to the tail. The degree to which the rails are curved varies from one surfboard to the next.

When looking at the surfboard from the lengthwise side one can see the rocker, which may be flatter or more peaked depending on the surfboard’s unique design.

Surfboard Fins

Surfboards can be customized with different numbers of fins attached to the bottom side opposite from the deck. Fins are always attached on the tail-end of the surfboard. There are four primary fin setups. A single fin setup as the name suggests is one fin. This setup is used on longboards. A twin fin is a two-fin setup commonly seen on shortboards. A thruster design indicates a three-fin setup and is found on both longboards and shortboards. It is the most popular style and allows for more control and stability. A quad fin, or four-fin setup, creates speed and drive when performing turns.

Surfboard Wax

In order to help the surfer better grip the board, a paraffin-based wax is applied to the deck to create a tacky surface. Surfboards can also be designed with permanent traction pads to provide more grip.