Tail shape in prone boards

I recently got a new 4´5 prone board and in general I love it. However I have 1 issue, that is catching white water on the take off. One of our best spots involves catching sometimes overhead white water on a reef bar to then open up a playground of lumps and bumps to surf. My old board could take a pretty big hit of white water and come out flying, however the new board just seems to get engulfed and either the white water just pushes past me or even the nose goes under and the board stops dead.

One of the big differences with the boards is the tail shape. The old board had a much more vertical tail, whilst the new board is probably around a 45 degree angle. Check the very rough sketch. My feeling is that the wave is just passing through the tail, rather than actually pushing it. However it could also be other factors (the old board was slightly longer and slightly wider, and probably had a completely different rocker)

I wondered if anyone had experience with this and if anyone had any feedback about it.

Yeah, I find that there’s 2 kinds of boards. Wider, fuller tail boards that paddle slower but catch whitewater and more pulled in tails that paddle faster and catch unbroken swell better but don’t provide much for whitewater to “impact”

What do the tail outlines look like? Wider vs more pulled in?

It’s true. The older board had a much wider tail outline compared to the new one, which is narrower. Once flying, there is no comparison, but just catching the white water is the issue.

So in your view its less to do with the shape of the tail kick, and more about the width of the tail block?

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Id say both design elements are going in that direction.

Most new designs are in that faster paddling narrower tail category. I ride a wide tail board(custom home build) and when I’m out with my buddies they’ll be paddling out the the outer break while I’m chipping on the inside shorebreak and pumping to the outside

This is kinda my game too - taking big foamball sets on the head and coming out to ride the reform.

In terms of catching the wave, I think bigger board is definitely just going to catch more energy from the wave, and I typically focus on giving a good paddle to try get reduce the relative speed a tiny bit.

I’ve found pretty mixed results, but a technique I’ve found is to delay the popup to ride out the turbulence, and but do half popup to get the weight a bit forward once you start accelerating, but with your back leg dragging, and keep that down until you’ve stabilised, kinda like the beach start stance.
CleanShot 2023-10-05 at 12.06.30

Bend your knees so that your shins are a wall for the white water to hit. Use legs to kick and push against the white water for that last second boost.

What is the volume difference? Higher volume boards take off better in white water.

Thanks for your answers.

@Matt Yes we basically surf a slab. If it’s under head high it doesn’t break. If it’s head high it’s perfect and gives an easy paddle in. Then when it’s 1.5 head it’s impossible to take off on the slab and you need to position yourself just inside, to get the hit from the white water… and this is the one I am struggling with. I will try your technique next time, but mostly once I am in the whitewater moving forward I am OK, it’s just the initial hit where it tends to go wrong.

@Hdip Thanks. I will try that too. I did think that before, but so many times the hit sends the nose under, so wondering if actually dragging my feet might be the answer somehow. Need to play around more. Volume is quite a bit less too. So less volume, less width, less planing area as well with bigger chimes and much less tail… I think that is probably most of the problem!

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Yeah I found the volume to be the biggest difference. Longer rail line does help with the nose going under. The kick I described can help to bring the nose up. But I basically hate those types of white water take offs and refuse to foil those types of waves anymore. So I’m probably not giving the best advice here :slight_smile:

Thanks for all the advice.

Foiling a head high slab? Isn’t it too shallow on the inside?

It’s not so much a slab, just a chunk of shallow reef out to sea that then feeds into deeper water. So if it small the wave breaks pretty mellow and is perfect. When it gets bigger you obviously can’t catch the slab section, so need to sit just inside it and catch the white water. Once up on foil it’s then a playground of mostly unbreaking waves rolling through or you can pump out and get the bigger ones.

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Basically this:


I operated on my board to test how much difference the tail shape would make for catching foam. I sanded back the paint. Glued a section of foam to the tail. Reshaped it. Glassed it. Sanded it. Filled it. Painted it. (check photos)

Conclusion… Made no difference at all! :rofl:

So back to the drawing board and probably a new board needed.

Now the question is: For helping to catch foam, which is the best solution:

  1. Mid length style. Longer/narrower. (My feeling is that maybe this helps catch unbroken waves better, but not sure about foam?)

  2. Something wider in the tail. eg. Omen Flux.

  3. Something which mixes it all. Take my old board (which I love for everything other than taking off in foam). But make it wider in the tail, more volume and maybe a little bit longer, so it’s between the Flux and a mid length.

Any input would be greatly appreciated since there is not a huge community of foilers around here, so testing gear is impossible.

I think a wide tail is the way forward. A good example to compare boards is to look at Gongs website. They offer 3 prone boards.

Matata - taking off in white water and not clean conditions (relevant to you), wide tail
Lethal - ver my narrow performance based board with pulled in tail
Lemon - less extreme version of Lethal.

The Gong boys rip and know their board design. Maybe worth looking as a reference point.

Somewhat related, but anyone notice how a lot of the F-One pros are riding more of a square tail board (custom or proto), versus the new F-One production prone boards which are more of a traditional squash tail?

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Honestly I think unless you go extreme in some way, the only way to deal with this is improving the technique.

I suggest trying a wider board for more stability …

  1. Mid length boards don’t help that much, my experience. If anything because they are narrower they are harder to take off in unstable foamball.

  2. Doubtful this makes any difference. The foam hits your body/legs more than board.

If it’s useful for OPs design considerations - the Lethal (my daily for a year before giving up on it) catches unbroken waves pretty well as it is very fast, but it is absolutely terrible at foamball waves because it is so narrow. I disliked it a lot for the same reason, too narrow, terrible for riding. Careful going narrow.

I went from a board with a more displacement nose (large chines and rounded nose area, wide tail) to a board with a planing nose (hard rails, double concave, pulled in tail) and the new one is better for white water takeoffs. It feels like the planing surface adds stability vs the other board tends to roll or slew around.

From my experience, and having tried lift 4’6, appletree v2 4’7, and some others, that the best prone all rounder is the AFS Chipri pro… It’s got a lot of volume up front, a great shape that clears the water very quickly, is super stable in white water, concave deck gives amazing feedback as to your foot positioning, the nose never pearls (takes off on some seriously steep waves easily)… can’t recommend it enough. RIP Chipri x


Sort of interesting how @JAS actually did the work to A/B test the concept and reported on the result. And within hours we have people parroting the statement that a flat tail/square tail is the way to go. Just shows the power (and limitation) of the human brain to try and draw conclusions from sparse data. Because so and so rides a certain shape must mean that it is better.

I think the wide nose helps stability in the whitewash more than anything at the tail. When you go to pop up, your hand being placed wide keeps that stability as you push down.