The different types of surfboard tails
- 29 November 2017 | Surfing
Surfboard tails have a direct impact on key surfing moments such as acceleration, control, maneuverability, drive, speed, stability, hold, and release. Get to know the basic tail designs.
There are six fundamental surfboard tail shapes and seven hybrid or alternative designs. The most common shapes are the squash tail, the square tail, the pin tail, the round tail, the swallow tail and the asymmetrical tail.
The tail of a surfboard has a massive impact on the way we ride a wave. Each shape will behave differently when you take off on a wave, bottom turn, accelerate down the line, and control the surfboard on the face of the wave.
Choosing between surfboards tails not a matter of aesthetics. They feature multiple angles and cuts that will provide more or less release, pivotal or smooth turns.
The surface area of the board that is in contact with the water is key to understanding and picking the ideal tail shape for your all-around stick. A wider tail will deliver stability, flotation, speed, a loose feel, while a narrow tail will hold the line more.
So, as a rule of thumb, let's say that angular designs (for example, the square tail) will result in looser, sharper, more pivotal, and skatier turns. On the opposite side of the spectrum, curved shaped tails will hold the water flow and give you smoother, and rounder turns.
Modern surfboard shaping introduced a large number of new tails for specific ocean conditions, waves, and surfers. Tails are part of the outline of the surfboard and will work with rails, bottom contours, and fins, to perform in a given way.
Whether you're ordering a custom-made surfboard, or selecting a brand new stick from the surf shop rack, it's important that you understand which tail to choose from because it will definitely improve your surfing experience.
Let's take a look at the most popular surfboard tail shapes and designs:
The Square Tail
The square tail, also known as chop tail, is the father of all designs. It's a high-volume tail shape that will plane fast across the water while offering a lot of stability. It's a great shape for mushy waves or slow sections of a wave. The square tail will react fast in short, tight turns. It is rarely used in modern surfing.
The Squash Tail
The squash tail, also known as rounded square tail, is the most common surfboard tail shape in the world. It delivers a comfortable and balanced feel regarding stability and maneuverability because it combines the benefits of the square and round tails. The squash tail is a versatile shape that will give you both control and hold in all kinds of waves, but especially in small to overhead surf.
The Pin Tail
The pin tail is the shape of choice for those seeking to get barreled in dramatic conditions. This tail design holds tight in the face of the wave and minimizes lift. It features the narrowest width of all tail shapes, which results in a directional surf, and maximum water flow. It can be hard to turn, and will not perform well in small waves. The round tail is the ideal tail shape for big wave surfing guns.
The Round Tail
The round tail offers a loose feel in terms of maneuverability and will provide enough hold in hollow and steep wave conditions. It is more versatile than the pin tail, and the extra surface area will deliver more speed in slow sections of the wave.
The Swallow Tail
The swallow tail is a popular design for both small and high-performance shortboards because it offers stability, control and hold when transitioning from rail to rail.
The Asymmetrical Tail
The asymmetrical tail is a 21st-century design created for backside and frontside wave riding. It usually combines two different shapes for the left and right sides of the tail, and offers traction and hold.
The Rounded Square Tail
The rounded square tail adds hold and less responsiveness to the original square tail.
The Rounded Pin Tail
The rounded pin tail is a blend of the pin and round tails. It offers stability and good speed.
The Bat Tail
The bat tail resembles the swallow tail, but it offers and central point of contact with the water.
The Wing Tail
The wing tail is a combination of rail shapes and the swallow tail.
The Thumb Tail
The thumb tail is a compromise between the squash and the round tails.
The Fish Tail
The fish tail is a wider version of the swallow tail that will excel in small wave conditions. It was a popular tail during the twin fin years.
The Diamond Tail
The diamond tail offers a sharper and more pivotal experience when turning, compare to the rounded pin tail.
Take a look at everything you need to know about surfboard design and performance.