Surfing: learn the different parts of a surfboard | Photo: Shutterstock

Surfboards are complex hydrodynamic objects. They are made for riding waves and traditionally range from 5-to-13 feet, depending on whether they're shortboards or longboards and guns.

Because there are multiple forces acting on them, surfboards have different shapes for different ocean and wind conditions. The core materials involved surfboard shaping have evolved dramatically from the time they were made of wood, until today's high-tech components.

An experienced shaper transforms a blank into a brand new surfboard in roughly two hours. While he is working, the craftsman keeps in mind four major forces with strong impacts on his product: buoyancy, gravity, drag and lift.

As a result, there are seven main types of surfboards: shortboards, longboards, fish boards, malibu/funboards, guns, tow-in boards, and stand-up paddleboards.

They all share the same basic features. Let's take a look at the fundamental parts and primary design functions of a surfboard:

1. Nose: the first 12 inches of the surfboard starting at the tip - it has a relevant influence in paddling and maneuverability;

2. Tail: it's the back of the surfboard, or the last 12 inches starting from the tail - it has a relevant influence on speed and maneuverability;

3. Rails: the rounded edges or sides of the surfboard;

4. Stringer: a thin wooden strip placed along the vertical center of the surfboard that increases its strength and reduces unwanted flexibility;

5. Deck: the flat top surface of the surfboard upon which the surfer stands and the area where wax is applied;

6. Bottom: the area of the surfboard that touches and rests on the water while surfing;

7. Fins: the stabilizing devices fixed to the bottom of the board that serve as rudders, and prevent the board from sliding sideways, and help in drive, direction, and control. There are five setups: single fins, twin fins, thrusters, four fins, and five fins;

8. Leash Plug: a small cup placed on the deck of the surfboard with a metal bar that is used to attach the surf leash;

The anatomy of a surfboard: tail (1), rails (2), stringer (3), deck (4), bottom (5), fins (6), and leash plug (7)

From a tridimensional point of view, a surfboard always features:

Length: the measurement in feet and inches from the nose to the tail of a surfboard;

Width: the measurement inches from rail to rail of a surfboard at its wide point;

Thickness: the measurement inches of a surfboard from deck to bottom at its thickest point - it has an important impact on buoyancy;

The anatomy of a surfboard: length, thickness, foil, and rocker

Last but not least, the fundamental design features of a surfboard:

Outline: the overall shape of a surfboard;

Foil: the deviation rate of a surfboard's thickness from the nose to the tail;

Rocker: the amount of curve of the surfboard from nose to tail;

Concave: a contour on the bottom of the board to channel water;

Need a new surfboard? Take a look at the most common types of surfboards, and how design influences performance.