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Surfboard’s Special Sauce

This may not be news to any regular surfer, but for those that want to buy a board for yourself, your kid or for someone else’s kid, there’s a special secret that surfboard shapers have been holding onto for a long time, until CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs came out and literally exposed this secret sauce to the public.

Usually someone will give you some dimensions of what they ride, you’ll do some fuzzy math in your head like, “OK he’s 5’11”, I’m 5’8”, we’re the same weight and he’s riding a 6’3”, so I’ll probably be OK riding a 6 footer.”


What was lost in that equation are two very obvious factors and then the special sauce factor. You have to take into account not only the length of the board, but the width and thickness. And with concrete mathematics (yep!, surfers can actually do this here & there) you’ll come up with the secret sauce called VOLUME.

Volume is the amount of foam within the board that provides buoyancy. Factoring in one’s height & weight will determine how well a board will float you or not. In the old days, shapers would use displacement tanks with weights on the board to see how they floated and then create a graph for their future knowledge base. Once these CAD programs came out, the algorithms were baked right into the program and any knucklehead could see the volume, most commonly measured in liters, displayed right on screen.

We’ll go one further, being the nice guys we are, and give you a graph to figure out what volume is best for dialing in that special from the get go. 

But there’s another factor to understand, construction. Like, “what the hell is this thing made of and why is this one lighter than that one at the same size?” There are basically two foam types: the traditional polyurethane and the more modern epoxy foam, which is considerably lighter and more buoyant. Each one of these foam types have significant differences in waves as well, such as an epoxy board, being lighter is sometimes harder to get into windy offshore days, but on regular days is easier to catch waves.

While it’s great to have a floaty board to catch waves, this can be an enemy to young kids as they struggle to penetrate the waves trying to get outside into the lineup, not having the strength to push the board under water to duckdive. That’s why dad’s 6’3” might not be the best board for 5 year old little Joey.

So check the graph here & get that special board ASAP, and always make sure to PULL IN!!!!!

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