Board Design – Knowledge is Power

Many times in life I refer back to my old school motta of Knowledge is Power. This works well with surfboards but does the average surfer know what works when it comes to surfboards? What about the pro’s, do they know what they’re riding?

As a surfboard shaper I’m always interested in what surfers are riding but was really surprised that many WQS surfers don’t have a lot of input into their equipment.


Obviously it’s hard to step outside the square, many say that if Cheyne Horan rode thrusters then he would have been a world champion but he was never afraid to experiment.

A common answer to questions about boards tends to get an answer of, “I’m not sure, it’s what my shaper gave me”.

This could be a two part problem. The surfers don’t get the opportunity to get in the bay with their shaper or their own lack the knowledge to tell the shaper what they need.

Now i’m hardly shouting, “You know nothing Jon Snow”, but would more knowledge of board design help out everyone in the surf, even our WQS surfers?

Most WQS surfers may only get a few boards a year so it’s important to have something that works in most conditions.


It’s easy then to see why the majority of girls ride the square tail, they add stability and the corners of the square dig into the wave whilst turning and help increase the ability of the board to make pivotal turns.

But there are more options


The rounded sqare is the forgotten cousin of the square tail. Sure they are still on good terms but the rounded square can’t help be jealous. The rounded tail allows water to wrap around the contour of the tail and gives better traction in bigger, faster, hollower and more powerful waves. They tend to be looser, can draw out nice long turns but may not create sharper turns. I always feel they are very forgiving. They do add more surface area to the back of the board which can create more speed in slow spots on the wave.

Maybe the WQS surfers don’t need a rounded pin but the average female could use that extra tail volume and ease of turning, the shape of the rail and the shape of the tail do most of the work when it’s cutack time.


Channels are another great option. Your glasser and sander will disagree and after shaping a few I can see why. They take more time to make, more time to glass and are great fun to sand, said no one ever. Maybe channels are another story for another day.

The WQS tour is a battlefield and an all round board that works in all conditions is of great benefit.

Now is a great time to bug your shaper and try something different, you never know, you might be surprised.


You’ll find me in the shaping bay working on a rounded pin with belly channels.

My Confession about Women’s Surfing

I have a confession to make.

I have told my dark secret to several other surf photographers and some secretly agree with me. I prefer shooting women’s competitive surfing. I prefer shooting it over men’s.

So perhaps I should explain my self now that it’s all out in the open.

I have been shooting competitive surfing for around 4 years and have had the opportunity to shoot both men’s and women’s competitions, mainly WQS events.

One day when I was going through the 2000 shots I had taken during the day, and found that many of the men’s shots were similar and repetitive.

I have found that women’s surfing has retained it’s individuality and each competitor has their own style.

Women’s surfing relies less on raw power, it has a higher degree of finesse and has retained more of the old school feel.

Looking at any female surfer of the WCT and you’ll see turns where the rail is held throughout the turn but this isn’t just for the pro’s.

If you look at the likes of Claire Bevilacqua and Holly Wawn on the WQS then you’ll see power surfing but dig deeper in the WQS Rankings and you’ll find many young ladies who have similar power but have great individual style. Ones that come to mind are Dominic Barona and Holly Wawn.


Perhaps my love of women’s surfing comes from my appreciation of tighter turns in the pocket, solid bottom turns and a good round house cutback but the girls are making better use of manoeuvres like tail slides and quick snaps.

I think women’s surfing has a long road ahead and I don’t mean that in a bad way. More stand alone events, better conditions and an increase in WCT spots are steps in the right direction to the ultimate goal, getting more girls in the water, loving the sport that connects them with nature in it’s purest form.