Why you should use a nose guard on your surfboard

November 22, 2022 | Surfing
Nose guards: protect yourself and others against discarded surfboards | Photo: SurfCo Hawaii

Rubber nose guards help protect surfers against discarded or loose surfboards after a wipeout or unexpected fall.

It's one of the most underrated surf accessories but one that can prevent serious - and even fatal - puncture-wound injuries.

The nose guard is a triangular rubber item that can be glued to the tip of the surfboard to protect the human body against the pointed spear.

The accessory also protects the sensitive area against damage, i.e., cracks and fissures.

It could be seen in many late 1980s and early 1990s amateur and professional surfboards, but they slowly lost enthusiasts in 21st-century surfing.

"The nose guard was developed by Hawaiian surfboard shaper Eric Arakawa and insurance salesman David Skedeleski in 1986, and first marketed by SurfCo products," underlines Matt Warshaw in "The Encyclopedia of Surfing."

"The original noseguard was V-shaped and about two inches long and soon became a generic description."

"Today, it is diamond-shaped while the longboard noseguard - developed in 1990 - is elliptical."

Surfboard nose guards are usually made from a flexible and soft material - silicone or plastic - and absorb the energy of any impact.

Wipeouts: 66 percent of all surf-related injuries are board related | Photo: Kawasaki/Creative Commons

Preventing Severe Injuries

Accidents happen all the time to both beginner and advanced surfers.

Offshore wind, for instance, can easily pick up a floating board and throw it against someone's face. Also, a slippery deck can slingshot the nose of the board into your eyes, mouth, forehead, or temple.

Make no mistake: surfboards are dangerous weapons, and several things can go wrong in the water.

The ocean is unpredictable, raw, and powerful, and suddenly surfboards became hazardous missiles ready to hit any obstacle.

The biggest danger lurking in the water is your own surfboard - 66 percent of all surf-related injuries are board related.

The nose, fins, tail, and rails can cause severe injuries to surfers and beachgoers, especially more or less deep lacerations.

"Does the nose of your board really need to be shaped like the tip of a harpoon?" ask Andrew Nathanson, Clayton Everline, and Mark Renmneker, the authors of the book "Surf Survival."

"Shortboards have a tendency to recoil on their outstretched leashes after a wipeout, and the sharp nose or tail of the board may spring back and hit its rider, often in the face.

"Many of these injuries could be prevented by rounding the nose of surfboards to a minimum radius of one and a half inches (37 mm)."

"Promoted as a safety measure by the Surfrider Foundation, and coined 'the dolphin nose,' this design feature has not gained wide popularity probably because it bucks the current fashion trend of shortboards with sharp pointy tips."

SurfCo Hawaii: the creators of the original surfboard nose guard | Photo: SurfCo

Peace of Mind

Yes, they might not be the coolest surf item, but they also don't influence your performance in the waves.

Think of getting a surfboard with a more rounded nose whenever you can, as it could prevent a life-changing injury.

Simple collisions between surfers have led to lost lives; tips of surfboards have perforated through cheeks and into tongues.

Nose guards/savers are an additional layer of protection you should add to your surf quiver.

These inexpensive molded sleeves are generally made from silicone rubber and can be quickly installed thanks to their quick-dry adhesives.

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