WE'RE REALLY MAKING EFFORTS TO  HELP SURFERS FIND THE RIGHT SIZE AND SHAPE OF BOARD. So it was awesome to have Wavelength Magazine ask us for a feature this month on the subject.

We've been working hard at putting the tools on-line to help find the right board and the latest iteration is on the site right now. You can see that we've added the brilliant iAmBands skill scale from Sam Lamiroy to help you identify your current skills - which is totally helpful when deciding on sizing and really improves the accuracy of volume decisions. Actually Sam's been super helpful in refining the performance predictions as well and we've managed to capture a lot of his know-how and experience in the latest version of the Chooser.

So many people buy the wrong size board and it really limits their stoke and progress. The fresh approach in the Chooser is our contribution to getting the right board for you (and there's a COMPARE page too - so you can run your current board through the analytics and see how it sits against similar sized boards).

The whole shape selection thing is broadly explained in the Wavelength article below - but the online version is now powered by a refined set of predictor equations that take it to a whole new level of sophistication. In fact we're pretty excited about this work - its enabled us to design and launch our new WINTERIZED board range and there's more in our R&D. Check out the new Chooser on this site - its easier to show than describe and we don't mind admitting its a bit geeky underneath the skin - however, it is a great way to understand the rather large number of boards we have! 

Here's the Wavelength article which explains the background to the Chooser (but if you would prefer a human being to a computer to advise you - just drop us a note using the contact tab at the bottom of each page on this site - we will get back to you and do our very best to help):



If you understand surfboard shapes you can get a quiver that maximises your stoke. So, here’s your starter for 10:

Is there an easy way to accurately predict board performance?

Happily, yes. William Froude sorted it for Isambard Kingdom Brunel when they were wondering just how big to make the steam engines for their ships. Good news: his approach works for surfboards too (despite them not being steam powered). Perhaps that is not so surprising if you remember when those dudes were operating . Victorian engineering was at its zenith – there was serious money to be made. Sort the hydrodynamics and you get the super tall silk hat and the big cigar. Naturally, they put a lot of effort into it.

Bad news: here’s the Geeky bit (please pay attention there may be a test).

The ratio of the length to the volume of the board mainly determines the size of wave it is best for. That’s it - really.

Froude’s deceptively simple insight is beautifully captured in his length constant . Not as daunting as it might appear – it is simply how much volume the board packs into the length. The cube rooty thingy and the 0.992 are just about removing the dimensions from the equation (so it works for all sizes) and how salty the water is.

To avoid building a towing tank or getting the groom to drag boards up a river attached to a spring balance, (yes, Froude actually did that – happy days), we worked the sums for lots of surfboards whose performance we knew, fitted a curve and eh voila: Blanksy’s Predictor – which you can use to work out what size waves a shape works best in. This is pretty much how the Royal Navy picked their super quiver that ruled the waves for some serious time (and they would so still be at it today if they could actually afford a quiver).

Lets get physical

To show how useful this is, here are some typical real boards (all with the same volume). Using Blanksy’s Predictor and a pencil you soon get the picture (mmm… totally nice quiver).

Well – you knew that anyway. Or did you? Whatever – you do now.

To save you the tedium of using the equations we’ve put it all on a web-page. Click in your board size and volume and see how it compares to other boards. You can also critique how the scale sits against your preferences HERE.

Is that it!

You might also think about the various lifting surfaces on the board (rails, bottom, tail shape and kick, how the volume is distributed, fin set-ups ... ). They all have an effect. But yes : the basic shape is the biggest performance factor by a long way. It is easy to be rather accurate on this because of the massive effort that has gone into the trying, testing and proving of board shapes over the past 50 years.

Pick your quiver.

Match your board shapes to the waves you want to ride. Long thin boards won’t go well in small weak waves. And stubby boards are a bit of a liability when it gets up to head high. Some shapes work OK in a wider range of heights than others – but the optimum height is where that board likes to be best. To deal with a range of conditions: a quiver is a good investment – just don’t buy all the same shape unless you are really that good that you can notice the difference! Spread your shapes across the scale for the wave sizes you want to ride and, hey presto, you have a quiver.

Start with a board you are riding now (and like) then ask yourself what sort of conditions it works best in for you. Then build around that understanding. If it works well in head high waves then perhaps add a small wave board…

Now you know how to identify the performance of candidates for your quiver. Think simple, less can be more if you choose with care. Think Zen garden – take time to understand. See what you do not need.

Alternatively, just buy some super sexy shapes with great spray jobs – after all, if they feel good maybe they will go good. Well, maybe…..

All very well to find the right SHAPE, but how do I work out the SIZE I need?

Good question, Grasshopper, that is the subject of the next article in the series. Once you know the shape you are looking for AND you know the volume you need to float your boat, then choosing exactly the right board for your quiver is a breeze.