Surfboard shaping is a complex artform, with different outlines, concaves and contours. 

And one of the most important parts is the surfboard’s rocker. 

A surfboards rocker will impact:

  • How fast your board goes.
  • How easy it is to turn.
  • How it fits into the shape of a wave.
  • How it glides over flat sections.

And a whole bunch more. 

So if any of the above interests you, keep reading…

WHAT IS SURFBOARD ROCKER

A surfboard’s rocker refers to the curve of the surfboard from nose to tail. 

This curve, or rocker if you like, helps to fit your board to the curved surface of a wave. 

But that’s not all.

It also helps to reduce the chances of nosediving, and it helps when it comes to pivoting and doing turns too. 

Typically, you’ll have a more severe rocker at the nose of the surfboard, and a more subtle rocker at the tail. 

We’ll break down why in just a second. 

NOSE ROCKER

Nose rocker is the degree of curvature at the front of a surfboard. 

A more pronounced curve will have more rocker, and a flatter curve will have less. 

So what’s the difference and what should you look out for? 

Lets take a closer look:


BIG ROCKER

  • Reduces chances of nosediving.
  • Helps to fit into the curve of steeper waves.
  • Cuts through chop on a waves face.
  • More forgiving in recovery on critical manoeuvres.
  • Loses speed faster.
  • Doesn’t plane over flat spots well. 
  • Slower

SMALL ROCKER

  • Faster.
  • Good when surfing weaker waves.
  • Increased chance on nosediving.
  • Doesn’t fit into the curve of steep waves well.

TAIL ROCKER

Tail rocker is (you guessed it) the curve at the back of your surfboard.

You’ll notice that the incline is much less severe than the nose rocker, with variations much more subtle. 

Nonetheless, this rocker dramatically effects the way a surfboard will perform, so let’s break things down once again. 


BIG ROCKER

  • Easier to pivot.
  • Can turn in critical parts of the wave.
  • Slower.
  • Loses speed faster. 

SMALL ROCKER

  • Faster.
  • Glides over flat sections with ease.
  • Holds its speed in weaker, flatter waves. 
  • Harder to do critical turns. 
  • Not good in steep waves. 

HOW DOES ROCKER AFFECT A SURFBOARD

You’re likely starting to get the idea of how a surfboards rocker will impact its performance in the surf. 

You’re also likely to see that there’s no one-size fits all solution which is best, instead as with all facets of surfboard design it’s a case of give and take. 

As a general rule though you’ll want to lean on the following:

Smaller, weaker, flatter waves with less incline will suit a flatter surfboard with less rocker. 

The reduced rocker will help the surfboard to carry speed over flat sections, glide from a to b without losing speed, and fit into the contours of the wave well. 

In more powerful, steeper waves with more severe incline a surfboard with a more extreme rocker will be better. 

As speed generation is of little concern in these types of waves, the curve will help to marry your board to the curve of the wave, stop you from nosediving, and allow you to do advanced tricks in critical parts of the wave. 


TAIL & NOSE ROCKER, WITH A FLAT SPOT IN BETWEEN

You may notice that surfboards have a rocker at the nose, and a rocker at the tail - but a flat area in between.

Why is that?

This flat area is what provides the surface area to help your board glide over and through the waves face. 

And depending upon which shaper you resonate with will depend on how much flat space will be present on your board. 

But there is an exception, the banana board, which has a continuous curve from nose to tail - with no flat area to speak of. 

Not very common whatsoever (and widely discredited) it was however a design famously surfed by Kelly Slater in an event at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast. 

The board did some incredible stuff, but some strange stuff also. 

The moral of this story, beware of the banana…


CONCLUSION

A surfboards rocker will dramatically impact the way a board rides. 

Too much and the board will feel sluggish and slow. 

Too little and it’ll feel all skatey, and hard to turn. 

As with life, it’s all about balance. 

Hope this article helps, and if you have any questions, hit me up in the comments below.

Yew!

Rowan 🤙

ROWAN CLIFFORD

Rowan is the technical nerd behind the scenes. A lover of everything entrepreneurial, and living a minimal, simple life.

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