Squash, rounded pin, bat, swallow or square? What's your flavour?
Ever stopped to think about what tail you're ordering on your board, and why? Here's a quick look at how tail shapes influence how your board rides.
What happens when your board meets water? Friction! This slows down how the water moves under and around your board. But as it gets near the tail it starts to accelerate. Hydrodynamic tests show that water is moving it's quickest as it encounters our board, and then again as it leaves the other end. So, what that means is the outline of your board at those 2 points will have the biggest influence on the water flow around your board.
Which is what makes tail shapes pretty important!
The square tail is the grand-daddy of all tail designs. Due to the extra width in the tail, the board tends to have less curve in the rails. The corners of a square tail dig into a wave while turning and help increase the ability of a surfboard to make pivotal turns.
Water moves straight down the rail line, and then abruptly straight off the square edge behind the back fin. The square tail shape unloads a lot of water very quickly, which makes it a very fast tail shape.
But fast isn't always pretty. Cos all the water's shooting off a straight edge with no finesse to the flow, the squaretail tends to turn like an ADD toddler who's just eaten a packet of jelly tots - it jumps from rail to rail, with little subtlety in between. Not much buttery smoothness here.
The square results in a wider tail, so this keeps plenty of volume behind the forward fins, and this helps heaps with flotation.
Is it for you? Good on beginners boards cos helps with stability, and good for small wave boards where the extra volume helps in the mushy stuff.
This is the most common tail for shortboards. It's a variation of the square tail. Basically a square tail that a rat nibbled the edges off.
The adapted squaretail has the benefits of quick release and width for flotation, but the rounded curves provide some subtle modulation in turns. The water is not longer spewing off a sharp edge and forming turbulent eddies, it's now flowing in a cleaner line.
The rounded ends give the board more hold than a hard edge square tail. A squash tail is very versatile as it is designed to give you better control in steeper and bigger waves as well as softer waves.This makes the board very responsive and easier for sharper and looser turns. The corners allow for more pivotal, abrupt turns off the bottom or on the face, but will provide less release off the top. The rounded corners provide a bit more bite and control than the round tail, and the square end allows the board to release. This tail design relies on the tri-fin setup to maintain control.
The shape still gives you some width, which increases the surface area in the tail. More surface area means more lift, or easier to plane and maintain speed. Useful for the slower spots of a wave.
Is it for you? Probably the most common tail on shortboards, so you can't go wrong with it as an all-rounder.
A rounded pin is basically a pintail with a bit more width and curve. It allows water to wrap around its contour for better traction than the square tail in bigger, faster, hollow waves. The little bit of extra width that a true pintail increases the surface area and results in more lift. More lift allows the board to be more lose and easier to turn than it a proper pin tail.
Water flows off the tail and rails in a diffuse fashion, in a wide range of angles. Since it has a lot of options in that nice curve toward the final pin, the water takes more time to break free. So you don't have the raw acceleration of a square or squashtail, but what you do get in heaps is control and subtlety of turning angles....think drawn out turns not snaps. They’re going to be fitting into the wave tighter and giving you more control over your board. The narrower tail area fits better into barrels than either square or squash. A common tail shape among elite pros, particularly in surf over six feet.
Is it for you? Yip - if you're surfing hollow, barreling surf from shoulder high to nearly double overhead.
The tail of the board curves down to two points as in a squash, but the area between those points is decreased by a vee cutout resulting in two soft points. The decreased area between the corners and more pronounced points give the board more “bite” and control in critical maneuvers, as well as when going into and out of turns. The two points on the swallow tail act sort of like dual miniature round point tails, but without the pronounced “tracking” that a pin or rounded pin provides.
The swallow tail is related to the squash tail in that it provides more surface area from rail to rail, allowing for planing speed and lift. It blends a square's instant rail fall-off with some of the pin's tube-fitting and turning subtlety. Swallows release concave bottoms better than most other tail shapes and also allow a wider tail shape, which makes 'em popular among some high performance surfers in small waves.
They work well on fish type surfboards, which often tend to have a pronounced swallowtail, as this compensates for the wider, straighter outline of a fish which is more difficult to maneuver.
Is it for you? These tails are generally good for small to medium surf, although you fill find them on step up and semi guns because the gap allows water to flow freely between the two ends and holds a hard turn well which helps when going fast and doing big turns. But mostly the design’s suited to small, playful types of conditions when you want to slide the tail around a lot.
It’s a tricked out version of the swallow tail and essentially performs the same way. As the name implies this tail shape resembles a bat creating three points for the surfer to pivot off of when turning their surfboard. This is very similar to the swallow tail but has an extra point in the center.
It keeps the tail wider so the rails can run straigher down the length of the board. Mostly it's cosmetic as it functions much the same as a swallow, although there is a school of thought that the center point of the bat tail adds a bit more stability.
They seem to work well for quads where the sharp point in the centre of the tail might givea little extra drive in the absence of a middle fin.
Is it for you? Get a bat tail surfboard if you love your swallow tail but find that it’s a bit too loose.
Some surfboard tails feature “wings” along the edge of the rails. These wings are added to the tail of the surfboard to help the surfer maintain control at high speeds, especially when making turns.
The wing is really not a tail shape but more of a rail shape. It can be seen as the bump in the rails just in front of the front fins. Don't be confused and think that this is a different tail shape. The tail shown on the left is still a swallowtail. Just remember that the board also has a wing.
Is for you? Wings are often featured on surfboards with wide tails that may “slide” during turns due to the wide tail area. The wings add that necessary extra hold.
So there you have it. Heads or tails. Your call.....
Tough being a surfer in the bay in summer. A week of howling east which finally swung to west - giving a lekker morning of surf, but by lunch time the west was pomping near gale force. Not called the windy city for nothing. Urban legend says all the months that end in "...er" are really windy in PE. Seems to be holding true to form at the moment...
Humewood dished up some dredging barrels, claiming 2 boards and a fin in the process. Plenty of deep one's that were makeable, whilst others lurched up on the sand bank sending their would-be occupants flying.
You can check the shots out here.
The Hobie Beach sand artists have relocated to Pipe, so pop em a coin or two if you dig their stuff. They're on the money with this one....
No more news on what's happening re the fish farm, other than there were apparently 120 formal appeals to the Minister, which is a great response from the PE community. Whether or not the department takes heed of them or not is another story. If you'd like to lodge your objection to the fish farm, you can sign the petition here: http://www.stoppefishfarm.co.za/
There are over 7000 signatures so far, so go add your name to the list.
Drones are great. But sometimes they show stuff we'd rather be oblivious too. Like this screengrab from a video of Cape Town showing a coupla finned friends right in the line-up. So keep those feet up......
PA mini-grom Kye McGregor gets a kiff shot and write-up in the latest Zag in their Upstart feature. The lightie froths so hard you'd be forgiven for thinking the kid had rabies. So truly stoked on surfing and all things surf. Lekker.
Adding to the local EC representation in the mag is ex Seals local and now Mentawaii local Stan Badger. He's been surf guiding in the islands for the last coupla years, and is well known in the charter business over there as one of the best guides around. He chats to Zag about going troppo.
Seals local Faye Zoetmulder is over in Peru for the World Games. JBay's Etienne Venter and PE's Johnny Bakker make up the rest of the EC contingent. It's the 50th World Surfing Games, and is being held at Punta Roca, a classic point break. Over 25 countries from all corners of the planet and more than 150 men and women surfers take part in the event. Even the UAE (Dubai) has a representative this year!
Some more of our local surfers are over in Portugal at the moment for the ASP Junior World Champs. JBay lighties Dylan Lightfoot, Matt McGillivray, Emma & Gina Smith and Joshe Faulkner. Good luck kids!
This has to rate as one of the more epic garden sculptures you could have in your driveway! Ex-PE local from many moons ago, Lance Pearson, made this rad surf beast on his aussie property. Have to love the guitar for a spine! Lance works for Hanalei Fin Systems, which makes some really awesome fins - which hopefully will be available in SA soon.
Those who surf the Point in Jbay will be stoked to know there are some new showers in the car park. Thanks to the Supertubes Foundation for getting them up.
Warwick from Coffee's Up is pimping out his caravan. It now has a rocking sound system, complete with uniquely South African anti-theft mechanism. Hanging in the Pipe car park just keeps getting better.
King of Cobbles Dean Simpson keeps adding kiff retro shapes to his quiver. Here's a 6ft single fin that will soon be gracing the local line-ups.
Coupla lil waves about during the week if you were prepared to scratch around. Sherwin Andrews hooked this lekker shot at Fence early in the week. Summer's here, so it's definitely time to lower your expectations if you're keen to get wet in the bay. Find a fish, grab a longboard, buy a handgun and bodysurf, or just learn to love surfing the onshores. Specially looking at the charts - beasterly easterly bows all week til Thursday.
Blame the bad run of surf on Carpark John. He got his new board last week, and we all know that new boards chase the surf away. Everyone will be relieved to know it goes it goes like a bomb and he's stoked as nuts about it.
Not much arrives in a post box these days, seeing as the modern world is all about emails not mail. Normally it's just my surf mags and the odd bill. So was pleasantly surprised to find a lil brown bag containing a bar of home-made wax cooked up by Millers local longboarder Mark Gerharty. Says it's special Maldives formula - pity it didn't come with a free air ticket over there to test it out!
Slack surf is bad for your health. In the absence of decent waves, PA mini-grom Kye MacGregor was boggering about on the jungle gym at school and learnt Isaac Newton's theory of gravity first hand. 'Cept it wasn't an apple falling from the tree, but Kye falling off the gym. Eina. Poor lightie has a bust arm and had some pins put in. Wishing him a speedy recovery.
Still plenty of wildlife about in the water, with the whales still hanging around on the wildside. Luc Hosten got this classic pic of one out in front of his possie - looked like someone was trying to blast the passing chokka boat from the Schoenies cannon, but nah, just a whale bomb.
Did a lil blog post on Knowing your fins (the pointy kind that belong to dolphins and sharks etc) and asked Luc if he had any shots of raggie fins. He found this in his archive from a few years back. Guy caught a raggie at Avo's and pulled it in on the lil beach there - measured up nicely against a surfers board!
New lifeguard stand up at Hobie - looks like a lil space capsule that you can jump in and take off to Mars. Might need to use it in summer to go search for surf when the bay is looking like a lake. Nice wave at Pier in the background. Maybe all the easts will finally bring some sand back to our beaches and Pier, Hummies and Avo's will start breaking properly again?
Kelly is still King. He might be bald and the wrong side of 40, but he goes and stomps a 540 during a layday surf in Portugal. Pro surfing is gonna be boring once he leaves. Read an article by Derek Reilly where he points out that the World Tour losing Kelly will be like a marine park losing it's orca whale; all you're left with is a pool full of jumping fish - and who wants to come watch that!? Interesting times ahead.
Cool new product on the market for those peeps trying to keep the water out their ears. Called Surf Ears. Stop you getting surfers ear and other annoying ear infections. Seems like a pretty high tech ear plug for sure. The big difference is that with these puppies in you can still hear exactly whats going on around you, as they let sound in but keep the water out. So don;t throw off your balance either. Come in a bunch of sizes so you should be able to get one that fits nice and snug. Dave at Surf Centre is looking to stock them - so if you're interested then drop him a mail. email@example.com
Medina dropped the ball in Portugal, handing Kelly a golden opportunity to capitalise - and then Kelly dropped the ball too. Medina cried, Kelly probably banged his head against the locker in frustration. It all came down to Gabe bailing on his heat against Simpo with 2 minutes still left of the clock, and only needing a 5.78 - absolutely do-able in the conditions and with the time remaining. But he had a mind blast and bailed. Kelly was up next against Aritz, not normally viewed as a giant killer in any shape or form. But for some reason Kelly couldn't buy a wave out there. He did have a super deep long barrel, which had he made it it all woulda been different. But he didn't. And he lost his heat, and things stay very interesting for Pipe.
Nup, not the one's on your board, the one's that you suddenly see out the corner of your eye, and go "Oh shit! What's that!!?" Here's a quick guide to all the pointy things you could encounter whilst having a surf. So now you'll be able to identify the one's you can breathe a sigh of relief for, and those you should kak in your wettie for. Thankfully most fins we see are not the kak-in-the-wettie-say-your prayers variety....so let's start with those:
Definitely the most common fin you're gonna see in the bay. Easy to ID cos of the rake of the fin. That means it's shape - kinda like the fin on your board, with a curve to it and the pointy bit angling backwards. These ou's cruise with plenty mates, so normally that's the quickest way to get your heart rate to calm down - just look for another fin! More than one fin means they friendly fins. Mostly. Unless you're Shannon Ainslie and have 2 very unfriendly fins ganging up on you.
They tend to swim then surface pretty frequently so you should see the fin pop up again soon. The bay has a resident pod of dolphins that generally cruise south to north in the morning (from Pipe towards Kings) and then north to south in the arvo. Most of the time there's at least 20-30 of them but sometimes they bring extended family and there can be upwards of 100 of them shunting past.
Kak-off rating: Starts at 8/10 cos obviously it's a fin but quickly drops when you spot his mates
These guys are mostly around in summer. They tend to travel in really small groups - normally only 1 or 2, and mostly won't come to close by as they seem to be kinda shy. Easy to ID cos of their smaller stubby fin sitting atop a hump on their backs.
Kak-off rating: 2/10 cos it's not a very scary looking fin
Great White shark
Ah, this one you don't really wanna see. Although supposedly the one's you see ain't the one's that are gonna nip you. Cos if they were in attack mode they tend to come at you from under the surface. The fins pretty distinctive - the classic triangular shape up into a pointy tip, hardly any rake at all - straight up. Generally you'll see the fin staying above water in cruise mode, whereas dolphins tend to bob up and down. So, very triangluar fin that is staying above the surface.....feel free to kak in ya wettie!
Whilst trying to stop your heart climbing out your mouth, re-assure yourself that whites hardly ever attack humans. And most of the "attacks" that take place are investigatory more than predatory. Meaning that the sharks don't have hands, so in order to see what you are they give you a lil nip. You have a good chance of surviving an investigatory bite.
What to do? Keep calm (easier said than done). Keep your eye's on it at all times, whilst you slowly make your way back to the beach. Flap around like a demented kook and he's only gonna get more interested in you. Keeping eye contact is supposed to help, as apparently they prefer the surprise attack. Plus it means you can see what it's up to and can give it a shove or poke in the eye if need be. All very nice in theory....
Kak-off rating: Off the charts. Wash your wettie with soap n water when you get home.
Seals wanna be sharks when they grow up. Often they'll just float out there sticking up one flipper which at first glance looks exactly like a fin. Then you realise the fin isn't moving, it's just sitting there. For ages. That's a seal.
Kak-off rating: The minute you realise it isn't moving you're cool
This things HUGE! You're gonna know straight away what it is. They can be between 1-2m tall. However there are very few cases of wild orca's attacking humans, so you should be OK. Just recently a huge guy did a lil swim-by of the Ulu's line-up in Bali. Any wave is his wave. Don't drop in.
Kak-off rating: You're too busy being amazed to kak off.
This one's gonna confuse you for sure. He has a legit looking fin, and it can be a good size, up to 1m high. You're gonna look twice for sure. The fin tends to be long and narrow, which helps with the ID. He's actually called a Mola Mola. Not common around our bay, but they are there.
Kak-off rating: 3/10 cos it has you guessing for a bit
So now you know how to ID your fins it should make for less panic in the water when you see one cruising past! But when in doubt - GET OUT!!!
Well done to our lighties! The EP Junior team came 2nd in the SA Junior Champs held at Point last week, just getting pipped by KZN. The team had an amazing spirit, and all the kids surfed outta their socks. Props to Kai Woolf who won the Girls u13 title. The other EP finalists were Angelo 2nd u13 boys, Ashleigh 3rd u15 girls, Joshe 3rd & Sebastian 4th u15 boys, Matt 2nd u17 boys and Dylan won a new surfboard for excellent surfing.
Thanks to the EP management team of Willem van Rijswijck, Annie van der Merwe, Louisa Lightfoot; coaches Grahan Hynes and Etienne Venter; and our on the spot reporter and photag Sany Coffey. Big up's to sponsors Boardwalk and Billabong. Local is lekker!
Want proof that the world's a small and random place? Brendon Booth-Jones was browsing through a book shop in London when he saw a travel book about South Africa. Picked it up and flipped it open, it landed on the Port Elizabeth page, and guess who he saw staring back at him? None other than his boet James and mate Gabriel Steyn Botha.
Staying in Back to the Future mode, was sorting out some old mags during the week and came across PE's Duncan Scott on the back cover of a 2007 issue of Surfers Path, a UK surf mag. Duncan was a sponno'd surfer back in the day, then became team manager for O'Neill Europe for many years.
Not sure how many mags in my total collection - but there's over 600 here, and it's a just a small section of the overall pile. Almost every Surfer, Surfing, Tracks, Surfing Life, Waves, Zigzag, Surfers Path, Transworld Surf and Carve from the early 90's onwards. Long live print!
A new Billabong store will be opening in Walmer Park 1 Dec. It'll be stocking core surf gear, so there'll be boards and wetties etc. Reckon if they gooi up a big screen TV and show some surf movies it could turn into a husband/boyfriend creche for all the ou's getting dragged to the mall on a Saturday. Ou's be smiling to have a store to lurk in instead of having to check out lipstick colours and shoes....
Summer's here, and it's time to start thinking grovel board. Here's a kiff lil mini-Vetkoek by Dennis Ellis at the Boardroom, with Tristan - a very happy looking new owner.
How's this for a neat GoPro shot. Don't try this at home though! Not a fan of shark cage diving for various reasons, but it's still a pretty scary damn shot nonetheless.
Wasn't much surf this week til the weekend which delivered a coupla lumps, and things not looking very exciting for this week in the bay. Summer's here. Gotto start driving out the bay to find the waves these days.
Yss, kiff waves most of the week. But let's start at the beginning:
The week started off with some serious beasterly easterlies. The pomping wind meant there were some onshore chunks at Humewood. Carpark John is a frothing grom at the best of times, and he ended up with plenty of froth to play with. Big chunks of the stuff were blowing down the beach like candy-floss soccer balls.
Bit of a sideshow drama in between crunchy bombs, when a bodyboarder lightie came flying out the surf tripping over his flippers in the process. Turned out he's spotted a skabanga making off with his backpack (and R6k phone) and gave chase. No luck, so John called his phone in the hope the muppet who stole it might answer and maybe we could negotiate buying it back. No answer - but not before John left a message on the voicemail vloeking the thief in his moer! About 30 min later the lightie came back to say a passer-by had spotted the scumbag running off with the bag and yelled at him and he dropped it, so he ended up getting his stuff back. Lucky.
Moral of the story. Don't leave your stuff on the beach, and if you do, then try put it right in the middle of the beach where everyone can see it. If it's up against a wall or near an access point it's too easy to grab & go. And definitely leave the phone at home.
The persistent east can make ou's go a bit mal. Ryan Allen was in serious need of a barrel - so in the absence of any waves he decided to make his own one. Threw in a WWII gas mask just for fun.
Gotto love a photo bomber. Normally it's Kye McGregor wangling his way into everyone's shots, but this time it was this ou decided to lift his leg whilst Emma Smith smiled for the camera with her u20 SA Champs trophy.
This was the week that delivered the typical September cut-off low, sneaking in just before the end of the month. Rained cats and dogs, and there were ducks on the Boardwalk. Enough water on the roads to stoke out the 4x4 owners who could hit the puddles with glee.
Thankfully wind guru got the wind forecasts a bit off, which meant most mornings delivered some kiff easterly waves in glassy conditions. Humewood was the pick of the bunch all week. Good to see it starting to come back to life. Now if only we could get more sand back to make it break in the west swells too.
Check Latest Shots for all the pic's.
Watch out for the gnarly lil reef that's been exposed in the middle of the beach - right about where you normally prone in after a wave. Perfect positioned to take a fin off, or cut a toe. Double points if you manage to do both.
Such a memorable week for EP Surfing - the lighties got their new EP blazers awarded to them at a function at the Boardwalk. Props to the Boardwalk for coming on board and sponsoring our Junior team and re-igniting the proud tradition of an EP team being kitted out with blazers. Thanks to Brett Hoppe from the Boardwalk for making it happen. Give the ou a few waves in thanks next time you see him in the water.
Check out the full story on the blazer handover and all the shots here.
Good timing for the east swell, cos the groms at the Billabong Junior Series finale at Seals were only too amped to have some super contestable waves for the event.
Will get the full comp wrap and results up soon.
Gonna make a tenious connection and credit local surfer and funny-man Gino Fabbri with the Boks beating the Kiwi's. He was up on Joburg making Bok captain Jean de Villiers laugh - so reckon that's why we won the game. Flipping awesome game of rugby too. Thanks Gino!
A surfer in your life having a birthday soon? Well, think this would be the cake and cookies that would make 'em smile. Malcolm Bailes making sure his grom grows up to be a surfer like his old man!