What Shape Should Your Next Board Be?

Posted by James Marshall on

How much effort and thought goes into purchasing a surfboard? If you're like me, probably quite alot.

I know many of us only have one or two boards (they arent cheap right?) but I also believe that to be a truly well rounded surfer, you need to be able to ride each of the boards below - they all compliment each other and help the way you interpret and approach a wave.

A brief waning, this post contains graphic surfboard porn...

I am starting to consider more options and variety - lets run through what options are out there. I have tried to categorise boards by purpose as I see it, and then noted variants from the initial concept.


What is it? As the name suggests, a board that is slightly differently shaped on one side than the other. Why? There are a couple of rationales. Firstly, the way you approach a wave can vary greatly based on whether or not you are on your front side or back side. With this in mind, your board could be shaped to help you whip around frontside turns, or drive through backhand carves. A second train of thought is that regardless of stance, you may surf a point break and want to have drive and hold down the line for bottom turns or barrels on one rail, and then a looser skatier feel on the other side when carving back into the pocket. Personally, this is the only board shape here I havent tried, but would love to at some time in the near future. Check out this video of Volcom's Ryan Burch creating and testing some crazy shapes, and see what you think.

Variations? Step up, small wave boards...google it, you will see some crazy stuff!

Performance shortboard

JS Monsta

What is it? 

The 'typical' surfboard shape that the pros ride, and that every non surfer believes all surfers ride. Made for advanced, responsive and fast surfing. Usually set up as a thruster (three fin) setup, but increasingly available as four fins or interchangable between the two. 

One of the most easily recognised symbols of surfing, and possibly the most produced shape every performance shortboards are well known craft that can be tailored to individual needs, and different types of breaks by making minor tweaks to volume, rocker, tail shape, rails and more (indeed, these tweaks can be made to all boards, but shortboards seem to be where the most experimentation is going on - for example, check out Tomo's Vanguard which Kelly Slater tested on a recent trip to Japan.

Variations? Step-up board for bigger waves, smaller wave boards or 'fun boards' and even more radical designs like the stuff being produced by Tomo.


Degree 33 Surfboards 

What is it? Where it all started, both for surfing as a sport as well as for many of our personal surfing lives. Longboards are the perfect way to get started and help flatten out the learning curve, but what less surfers know is their ability to help round out your entire surfing repertoire. If you have been riding boards less than 6'6 for the past few years, grab something longer than 9' next time the waves are small and see how gracefully (or not so) you can walk up & down the board, and maneuvere such a big craft. Check out 'The Ductumentary' for some awesome viewing of some of longboarding's most stylish purveryors.

Variations? mini-mal, toothpick, stand up paddle boards and tandem surfboards.


Degree 33 Surfboards

What is it? Arguably this could be a subcategory of the performance shortboard, but I think it deserves its own category. The reason for this is that fishes tend to feel very different to performance shortboards, and as a result can influence your surfing in a different way. For example, a very retro shaped fish with lots of volume at the nose, a deep swallow tail and a twin fin setup can help you draw out your turns and think about them more, compared to a performance shortboard which may turn tighter on a central stabiliser fin. I cant talk about fishes without mentioning Asher Pacey; he's a tall dude who rips on a shortboard (he was on the CT a while ago) and here he is riding a twin fin he shaped himself.

Variations? Step up, single fins, hybrids with performance shortboards.

What are you riding and what do you like or not like about it and why? I am keen to learn about different people's experiences to help me in my own wave riding crafts of choice.

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