The shape, or outline, of a surfboard plays a major role in how the board is going to perform and which surfboard design-type it could be classified as.
The shape is the result of lines coming together to form something that’s either going to direct water flow in a way that works or in a way that doesn’t.
The outline will help determine how a board is going to turn, hold, surf vertically, and manage speed.
What is the shape of a surfboard?
The shape of a surfboard defines its overall surface area, width distributions, and rail flow.
The outline, or template, is defined by the shape of the nose, the lines of the rails, and the shape of the tail.
Often times, common combinations of these elements come together to form a recognized surfboard shape – other times, individual design elements within the outline are tweaked and modified to create something new or to try to capitalize on a specific performance characteristic.
A lot of the time, you’ll hear a certain board referred to by the most distinct feature of the surfboard’s template – i.e. swallowtail, round nose.
Sometimes, you’ll hear a board referred to by the overall shape of its nose, rails, and tails combined.
Generally, surfboard outlines can be described as parallel, continuous, or a hybrid of the two.
You can find versions of more parallel or more continuous surfboard templates in all types of boards – each will have their strengths and weaknesses depending on the waves being surfed and the style the surfer wants to achieve.
Just like every design element of a surfboard, the template doesn’t exist or perform in a vacuum. It has to work along side of rocker, bottom contours, and fins to define a boards performance.
That being said – a more parallel outline is going to be more stable in a straight line and more suited for long, drawn out turns.
A continuous outline will feel snappier and will handle turns and maneuvers in a tighter space.
If you look at a noserider longboard next to a high performance surfboard, you’ll see a good contrast between parallel and continues outlines.
If you can take both boards out and surf them back to back, you’ll get an even better sense for it.