Knowing the anatomy of a surfboard

Are you ready to start your first surf lesson? There’s a lot to learn, but don’t worry! Our instructors have more than half a century worth of combined experience in surfing and instructing. They’ll be able to teach you everything you need to know about riding waves!

But if you’re one of those people who loves to learn everything you can before you set foot in the water, this blog is for you. Today, we’re breaking down the anatomy of a surfboard — what are the different parts of the board, and how do they affect the performance?

Now, don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz, but if you understand what makes a surfboard work it will help you understand why it moves and performs the way it does on a wave. Understanding that will, in the end, help choose the right board for your ability which will also help improve your surfing! Here are the basic parts to know:


This is the first foot or so of the surfboard, at the top of the board. This is the end of the board that points forward and influences paddling and maneuverability.


At the opposite end from the nose lies the tail. It’s usually narrower and pulled in compared to the nose, and also helps influence maneuverability. The tail helps factor the speed of your board. The more pulled in or narrow the tail is the more speed the board will have. The wider the tail the more maneuverable the board will be. The challenge is to have a board that is the correct width to provide speed and maneuverability. There are several different types of surfboard tails and each has it’s own nuance that causes the board to work differently.


These are the rounded edges of your board. Thicker rails will provide more buoyancy and stability. Thinner knife like rails will cut through the water quicker allowing for tighter sharper turns.


The deck is where the surfer stands and where wax is applied.


Fairly self-explanatory — this is the side of the board that glides on the water and where the fins are attached.


The rocker is one of the most important features to the performance of a surfboard. The rocker is the curve of the bottom of the board that runs from the tail to the nose of the surfboard. It is a very complex and advanced feature of the board, which will take years of learning and riding different boards to understand the significance of a surfboards rocker. The rocker has the biggest effect on the glide and speed of the board, and for shortboards, it can really effect the way the board paddles and glides on to waves. As a beginner, you won’t really have to be concerned with rocker but as you become more advanced and ride smaller, thinner, narrower boards the rocker becomes very important to the performance of the board and to the type of waves you ride.


The fins are also an important feature that adds to the performance of the board. Like the rocker, the fins have an effect on the glide and the speed of a board as well as the maneuverability. The fins or also known as skegs are the rudders on your board, which help with direction, control, and speed. There are several different types of fin setups, from a single fin, tri fin also known as a thruster and even four fins are known as a quad. The thruster is the most popular fin set up and has become the world standard to high-performance surfing.


This leash is a cord that attaches to your leg and the board to prevent you from losing your surfboard when you fall off. The leash is attached to a leash plug on the board, a small cup with a metal bar on the deck.

Ready for your surf lesson now? Contact Surf N Sea today, or sign up for your lesson here.