The surfboard is the essential piece of surfing equipment. Without it, you ain’t surfin’. The modern surfboard has come a long way in design and construction since the Hawaiians started surfing on wooden planks. The modern surfboard is light and strong, handmade by professional shapers out of foam and finished with a fibreglass coat. But it’s not a static art; the cutting edge of surfboard design changes as quickly as a cold surfer does on a windy day. Let’s have a look at what the different bits of the surfboard are called so that you can sound knowledgeable when talking your mum into buying you a nice new board.
Surfboard Bits and Pieces
The picture below shows the different parts of the surfboard and what they are called. The images are of a standard surfboard, but the naming of the different parts applies to every type of board — whether your board is a shortboard, funboard, longboard, gun or fish. (See surfboard types for more info on these boards.) First, the top view:
View of Surfboard Parts From Above
The first thing to note is that the nose of the board is the bit that faces forward. The surfboard sits in the water deck-side up as you have probably already figured out by looking at the surfing lessons and seeing surfing pictures or watching surf videos.
The deck is the top side of the surfboard and is where the surfer stands to surf and lays to paddle. Wax is applied to this top surface for grip. Often surfers will use a traction pad for extra grip. If you look at the deck of a surfboard, you’ll usually see a slight camber from the rail to the middle then back to the rail. This is know as a domed deck and helps promote easy rail-to-rail movements. The other type of deck is the flat deck — no prizes for guessing what this type looks like.
The nose of the surfboard sits out of the water. On shortboards, guns, and fish, the nose is normally pointed, and on funboards / minimals and longboards, the nose is usually rounded. However, this is by no means set in stone. Some surfers use a surfboard nose guard which can protect the surfboard from dings and also protect the surfer from a good poke from a disgruntled board!
The tail is at the back of the board. There are quite a few different tail shapes, and each shape provides different board performance. Check out surfboard tail shapes for more details. As pointed out in the above diagram, the tail will have a leash plug. The plug is where the leash is attached to the surfboard. The plug is set into the deck and the leash is looped through. Take a look at our handy guide that demonstrates how to attach a surfboard leash.
The rails are the “edge” of the surfboard. They run from the tail to the nose and are where the deck and the bottom meet. Like tail shapes, different rail shapes provide different surfboard performance. It may not be something you have thought about, but take a look at the different shapes next time you are in a surf shop. Why not find out more about surfboard rail shapes?
The stringer is a strip of strengthening material (typically wood) that runs the whole length of a foam surfboard. It’s already present in the surfboard blank before it is shaped. Epoxy, soft, and carbon fibre (space age, eh!) surfboards will not often have stringers.
Now you know all about the top side of a surfboard, let’s get on with the underside of the surfboard. Also have a look at the different types of surfboards.