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3 types of board outlines & how it affects your longboarding

Understanding the equipment you ride is crucial to being a well-rounded surfer so in the next few posts we’re going to be touching on a few aspects of board design (keeping focus on traditional style longboarding like most of this series has been).

Full disclosure – board design is a big topic that you could spend your entire life learning about & experimenting with as the combos of blending different design elements is endless. I’m also just sharing this from my own point of view based on my experiences, research efforts, & experimentations making a handful of boards.

So with that in mind, let's get into it...

Understanding the "wide point"

We’ll first look at the board outline or, more specifically, the “wide point”.

The “wide point” is exactly that – the widest point of the board. It’s often referred to as wide point forward, wide point back, or wide point mid (often called “parallel”).

The reason a board’s wide point is so important is because it plays a big part in how the board fits within the wave face with the wide point acting like a pivot point. And depending on the types of waves you surf most often it can either help or hinder your surfing efforts.

Let’s find out how…

wide point forward

A board with its wide point forward will be wider towards the nose than the tail, which means more foam & more surface area in the nose creating more buoyancy.

Because of this extra buoyancy, noseriding these types of boards relies more on float rather than lift & is easier to noseride on soft waves or more out on the shoulder where it’s softer.

The narrow tail also makes it easier to go from rail-to-rail making it easier to turn.

The drawback is that the wide nose/narrow tail combo makes it more difficult to noseride on steeper waves as the wide nose can’t fit as tightly in a steep pocket & the narrow tail doesn’t create the needed lift so can have a tendency to slide out.

Generally speaking these outlines make great entry level longboards as it makes noseriding & turning easier. If you’re looking for a more critical or challenging ride though, another outline may be better.

wide point back

At the other end of the spectrum is wide point back. A board with the wide point back means the tail is wider than the nose. So while a board with its wide point forward has extra foam & more buoyancy in the nose, a board with its wide point back has a narrow nose & therefore less buoyancy.

Instead of relying on the board's floatation to help you noseride, you instead rely on lift caused by the wave pressing down the wide tail to lift the nose (kinda like a seesaw).

Because this board has a narrow nose, it fits really nicely onto a steep wave or in the pocket making for more critical noserides. If you've ever seen photos of anyone just full on levitating tight in the pocket, they're most likely riding a board like this.

These boards are often a lot more technical & challenging to ride, but also way more rewarding when things works out. They surf really well on a wave with a nice, steep wall but can have a tendency to pearl/nosedive when it's soft & mushier.

wide point mid (parallel)

Last is an outline with the wide point in the middle, often referred to as "parallel". This is basically the best of both worlds & can work in a lot of different conditions. If you're not sure what type of board to get or are looking for more of an all-rounder, this is a safe bet.

Keep in mind the wide point is just one design element & while this may be a helpful indicator of how a board may perform, it's the wide point combined with all the other design elements that will determine how a board rides. Stay tuned for more...

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