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Flat Decks
 
 
 
July 3, 2019
 
 
  "Flat" decks are an intriguing alternative to the classic "crowned" decks common to contemporary shortboards. Prior to the development of the low volume - well rockered "glass slippers" of the early 90s, flat decks were very common. Dick Brewer's designs were perhaps the finest execution of this design. Their flat decks were an essential feature in establishing a crisp profile or foil from nose to tail.

The classic flat deck designs of the 70s and 80s featured primarily convex bottoms. The classic glass slipper featured concave bottoms. When we combine a flat deck with a concave bottom we're maximizing volume at and near the rails. This produced a relatively stiff board that didn't go rail to rail with ease. Concave bottoms contours and their performance features were here to stay so surfers and shapers gravitated to crowned decks of varying degree to facilitate rail to rail transition which is essential and at the core of shortboard performance.

A few years ago my shaping mate, Dave Beck and I, needed a break from design work we were doing. He brought a beautiful 9' 6" RB Gun to the shaping room. The board had a very crisp flat deck and foil. It was an eye opener. That board got us thinking about reintroducing some flat decks into our designs. (see illustration)




What do flat decks bring to our design resources? One of the most obvious features is the additional volume it brings to a shape when all other variables are held constant. The deck is simply fuller side to side thus adding volume. (see illustration)



This image illustrates the extra volume in a flat deck. The volume of the flat deck board is 32.5 Liters - the volume of the crowned deck board is 31.5 Liters.

Flat decks also add an element of stability to a board. A deck with more volume towards the rail will not tip or roll side to side, or rail to rail, as easily as a classic crowned deck which is thicker at the stringer and thinner in the rails.

How can we effectively integrate flat decks into contemporary designs? That will vary by the over all design, the venues, the conditions, and the surfer, and the surfing the boards are designed for.

When increased volume and stability are the primary design considerations simply redesigning the deck from crown to flat will yield a strong paddling, wave catching, stable, speed generating, and speed maintaining board. These features would be an asset for several conditions and surfers.

(1) Boards for larger surfers, older surfers, or surfers who are transitioning from mid range boards to short boards all of whom could benefit from more volume in their boards.

(2) Boards for waves with marginal energy where extra volume will help generate and maintain speed and ultimately maneuverability.

(3) Boards for XL and XXL waves where extra volume and stability are essential to paddling mobility, wave catching, and stability and flow in heavy water conditions.

When performance is the primary design consideration, flat deck designs offer excellent and unique performance features in moderate and lower volume designs. We have already established that holding all other variables constant a flat deck will increase the volume of a board. (see illustration)




If we want a flat deck board with equal volume to the otherwise same board we must reduce the thickness of the board to achieve that same volume. Reducing flat deck volume to equal crown deck volume by thinning a board can yield a very well tuned high performance board. (see illustration)



This image illustrates the reduced thickness of a flat deck required to yield equal volume as a crowned deck. The volume of both boards is 31.5 Liters.

The stable nature of a flat deck design offers yet another very functional design option. Reducing the volume even further can yield a design that combines the stable feel of a flat deck with the performance we associate with a crowned deck. (see illustration)



This image illustrates reducing the thickness of a flat deck board to yield the same rail volume as a crowned deck board. The volume of the flat deck board is 29.5 Liters - the volume of the crowned deck board is 31.5 Liters. The thickness of the crowned deck board is 2.18" - the thickness of the crowned deck board is 2.35."

After several years of experimenting with flat decks we find these designs most appropriate for small wave boards such as Fish, NC Malolos, and NC Merlins and for XL and XXL wave boards such as Semi Guns, and Guns. The extra volume and stability in these designs are a great asset to the unique performance demands of each of these designs.



 
2019 Single & Double Concaves
 
 
 
May 1, 2019
 
 
  We're all pretty familiar with the common bottom contours in contemporary shortboards. The most common concave arrays are single concave entry to tail and single to double concave entry to tail. Concave shapes have more curve in the rail line than along the stringer. The additional curve in the rail rocker "dips" below the rocker along the stringer. This intriguing juxtaposition of curves creates concaves.


Single Concaves have the potential to surf with the most speed and acceleration. With a little less "tuck" to the rails, a single concave is a very fast surfboard design. Occasionally, a single concave will have a touch of double concave or vee in the last 4" to 8" of the tail. Moving such a double concave forward in the bottom contours yields the classic single to double concave. The single concave design is generally the best bottom contour option in shapes for marginal to average to good waves.

Single to Double Concaves offer, in addition to speed and acceleration, an element of control to a shape. With average "tuck" to the rails, a single to double concave combines speed and acceleration with control. The "peak" and the "depth" of the double concave can be moved forward and back or deeper or shallower to fine tune speed versus control. The single to double concave design is generally the best bottom contour option in pure good wave Shortboards, Step Ups and Semi Guns.

Concaves are a radical design feature. They provide lift, speed, projection, and control as well as introducing drag - all depending on surfer input. They may have different configurations, different depths, and different placement in a shape. Their "radical" nature allows shapers and surfers to tune performance by the configuration, depth, and placement. A design can maximize concaves positive features - speed, projection, and control - and minimize drag by controlling the concaves' configuration, depth, and placement.



 
Tuning and Detuning Rails
 
 
 
October 10, 2018
 
 
  Rail are defined by their profiles, their apex - the mid point in the rail profile between the top and bottom of the board, and the bottom corner of the rail where the rail profile meets the bottom of the board. All aspects of a surfboard's rails are integrated to create a rail that best suits the purpose of the board's design.

Here's a link to a description of rails.

When designing boards for a variety of conditions we can vary the "tuck" and "edge" of the rail from wide point to tail to dial up or down controlling speed and generating speed. The further we tuck the rail into the bottom of the board the more the board will sit down in the water and conversely, the less we tuck the rail into the bottom of the board the more the board will sit on top of the water. The more the board and rails sit down in the water the more control a surfer will have making a full rail turn or in high speed trim. The less a board and rails sit down in the water the more speed and release a board will have in small and or marginal conditions.

The length the machine like "hard edge" carries from the tail towards the wide point has the same affect as the tuck of the rail in this area. The shorter this edge is, where the edge blends to a soft tuck from the tail, the lower the board will sit in the water and the more control the board will offer the surfer. The further this edge carries towards the wide point the higher the board will sit on the water and the more speed it will generate and release it will offer in small and marginal conditions.

Ultimately, the performance features of the "tuck" and "edge" of rails allow us to dial up and down speed and control in all our designs. Boards for small and marginal conditions will benefit from less tuck and more edge. Boards for all around conditions will have a reasonable blend of tuck and edge. Boards for quality waves, heavy water, and big waves will benefit from more tuck and less edge.



 
2017 Rockers
 
 
 
March 28, 2017
 
 
 
When 2017 was only a few months old it had already offered us opporunities to explore and evolve surfboard design. Surfing Kauai that winter with surfer / shaper Dave Beck and test pilot Randy Davis fired me up to work on rockers that will fit in the parts of waves that offer the board and surfer the greatest opportunity to tap into the energy a wave has to offer. The theory of creating rocker that fits into critical sections to generate speed and power dates to the dramatic short board design revolution of 1966 - 1969. Design focused on trim to this point. Over night the focus pivoted to radical, high speed turns with surfers accelerating in and out of the pocket and from top to bottom of waves. Pretty amazing surfing compared to the elegant dance of trim and nose riding.

The "Modern Surfboard" for the convenience of this discussion would date back to the early 20th Century and the designs rode by Duke Kahanmoku, Tom Blake, and other fortunate surfers. These designs focused on trim. They were very long and relatively flat and thick. They had a lot of surface area and a lot of volume. Surfing and surfboard design did not shift it's focus beyond trim, nose riding, and steering boards around as much as turning them until the mid to late 60s. Short board pioneers changed all that from 1966 to 1969. Surfing and surfboard design focused on high speed turns, accelerating in and out of the pocket and up and down the face of waves. Boards were shorter, narrower, and thinner. They lost considerable surface area and volume - key elements of trim and nose ride designs. The loss of surface area and volume resulted in less energy juiced into boards and surfers were required to find new techniques for taping into the energy in a wave. This was a primary factor in the evolution of tail rocker in surfboard design. A design that fit effortlessly in the tight, critical sections of a wave had the ability to tap into the abundant energy a wave had to offer.

Low, nearly non existent tail rocker carried over from the last of the highly evolved LBs to the first short boards. Surfers and designers were still attached to the low tail rocker profiles. The developing problem was that these rockers did not fit well into the parts of waves that surfing was now exploring and ultimately these designs were not as effecient as they could be. Realizing that more curve was required for a board to fit into the pocket of waves a few surfer / shapers started to incorporate rocker into their shapes that mimicked the curves we find in the most vertical part of any wave. These curves allowed boards to tap into the waves' energy and ultimately allows the surfer to maximize all the performance possibilities on a wave.

2017's early innovations started when RD brought up performance when redirecting or down carving into the pocket on fast vertical waves. Initially we thought adding tail rocker over all and increasing curve in the rocker segment from wide point to tail would offer better release in this critical moment. DB entered the discusion pointing out we did not want to risk losing projection or down the line speed from this rocker adjustment. Ultimately, we developed a curve that maintained the "speed box" properties through the wide point to the center of the surfer's stance and added the "accelerating curve" we wanted to incorporate from that point out through the tail.

This rocker profile is not intended to be a "specialty" rocker - that is designed for specific conditions. (Specialty boards are great, but by their nature may only excel in a narrow set of conditions.) This is simply an organic improvement or evolution in rocker for all conditions.

We will offer this rocker profile as an option for all our short board designs. It's a design option that will continue to perform well in moderate and all around conditions, but will excel in vertical and hollow sections of high quality waves.