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Perez, Niño Noel M.

February 8, 2018
ME-3205 Group 15




A surfboard is used in the sport of surfing. A typical surfboard is about 18-24 inches
(46-61 cm) wide, 72-120 inches (183-305 cm) long, and several inches thick. It has a
lightweight, buoyant core covered with a hard shell. In use, the surfer lays face down on
the surfboard and paddles out into the ocean to the point where waves are beginning to
rise. The surfer turns the board towards shore, paddles rapidly to match the speed of an
incoming wave, then quickly stands up and balances on the board as it is propelled by
the face of the breaking wave. One variation of the surfboard is the sail-board, which
includes a short mast and sail used for wind surfing. Another variation is the body board,
which is shorter than a surf-board and is ridden in the prone position.

The surfboard, and the sport of surfing, are believed to have originated in
Polynesia as early as A.D. 400. The Polynesians brought the sport with them when they
settled in Hawaii. Hawaiian surfboards were made of wood from various trees on the
islands. They were carved and shaped by hand, then stained and finished using the
natural juices and oils of plants. The largest boards, called 'olos’, were 144-240 inches
(3.6-6 m) long and weighed nearly 200 pounds (91 kg). Experimentation with wooden
Hawaiian surfboards during the 1920s and 1930s resulted in hollow board designs and
the use of redwood and balsa laminates to reduce the weight.

Materials and Composition

The typical surfboard has a rigid

polyurethane foam core (newer models
use EPS or expanded polystyrene
foam) with an outer shell of fiberglass
cloth and polyester resins. If a stringer
is used in the design, it is usually made
of wood such as redwood, balsa wood,
basswood, or spruce. Colored
fiberglass stringers can also be used.
The fin, or skeg, is made of wood or
laminated layers of fiberglass and resin.

Source (picture):

Material Property & Definition Uses

It is important that the board is durable so
it is able to be used for a long time,
Polyurethane Durable- How long the therefore, making it appealing to
foam (Board) item lasts consumers so they do not have extra
expenses upgrading or buying new
Low density is vital in boards so that there
Low Density- There is
Polyurethane is volume to stand on, however the mass
a low mass to the
foam is low, making it easier to move and guide
through the water.
This is essential as the wire needs to be
Ductile- The
Plastic (Leg out of the way, but still effective in
substance can be
Rope/Leash) keeping the person and the board
drawn into a wire
The plastic needs to be able to move into
Flexibility- How easy different shapes, as when surfing it needs
Plastic the substance can to move with both the surfers’ foot and
move back of the board, and have little
Friction- The ability to The rubber needs to cause friction to
Rubber (Grip
cause resistance keep the surfer on the board, this is also
between two surfaces important for the stability of the surfer
Waterproof- The As a surfboard is in regular contact with
Rubber substance is able to water it needs to be able to withstand
withstand water large amounts and not deteriorate.
It is important as surfers frequently ride
Hardness- To resist over coral, so the fin needs to be able to
denting, scratching not break when toughing the reef or
and breaking. another solid object. It is also important
that it can handle the force of the wave.
The fin needs to have low friction with the
Low Friction- The
water, so the board can glide across with
ability to have little
Fiberglass little drag. Drag is caused by the water
resistance between
being displaced, making an uneven and
two surfaces
unbalanced ride.
The wood is the core strength to the
Balsa Wood Durable- How long the
board, it needs to last the longest as it
(Stringer) item lasts
cannot be replaced.
The wood in the middle of the board
Hardness- To resist
needs to strong as the middle occurs the
Balsa Wood denting, scratching
most force due to the surfer standing in
and breaking.
the middle of the board.


Fiberglass is a common type of fiber-reinforced plastic using glass fiber. The

fibers may be randomly arranged, flattened into a sheet (called a chopped strand mat),
or woven into a fabric. Cheaper and more flexible than carbon fiber, it is stronger than
many metals by weight, and can be molded into complex shapes.
A resin is a "solid or highly viscous substance" of plant or synthetic origin that is
typically convertible into polymers. They are often mixtures of organic compounds,
principally terpenes. Plant resins are valued for the production of varnishes, adhesives,
and food glazing agents. They are also prized as raw materials for the synthesis of other
organic compounds and provide constituents of incense and perfume.
Polyurethane is a polymer composed of organic units joined by carbamate
(urethane) links. Polyurethanes are used in the manufacture of high-resilience foam
seating, rigid foam insulation panels, microcellular foam seals and gaskets, durable
elastomeric wheels and tires (such as roller coaster, escalator, shopping cart, elevator,
and skateboard wheels), automotive suspension bushings, electrical potting compounds,
high performance adhesives, surface coatings and surface sealants, synthetic
fibers(e.g., Spandex), carpet underlay, hard-plastic parts, condoms, and hoses
The stringers are wood structures that typically run down the center of a foam
blank. It provides strength and flex memory for the surfboard. Some shapers will move
the wood stringer from the board’s center to its rails, creating better flex memory.
Common wood types used in stringers are bamboo, balsa, Basswood, Western Red
Cedar, and Engelmann Spruce.
Polystyrene (PS) foam is a lighter alternative to traditional Polyurethane
foam. However, it takes about two to four times the labor to shape. They're not as strong
as Polyurethane but with the coating of epoxy resin, it becomes durable
enough. Polyester resin (used to make fiberglass) dissolves polystyrene foam so the
addition of epoxy resin is needed to prevent this. It also has the advantages of being
environmentally friendly and recyclable. Like Polyurethane, you can also buy blocks of
polystyrene foam and shape your own board.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam is a version of polystyrene foam. EPS is
typically the lightest of the three foams used in surfboards. The disadvantage of using
EPS foam is the difficulty of hand shaping it.


The nose is the forward tip of your board. Short boards

and fish generally are characterized their pointed noses, while
long boards and fun boards have a more rounded nose. The
deck is the top section of your surfboard on which you apply wax
and steer while surfing. You can also add a traction pad to
ensure a non-slippery surface.

The stringer is normally made of balsa wood and most

commonly runs through the center of the surfboard (and can be
seen through the deck). The surfboard rails are the outer edges
(outline) of the surfboard. The thickness and curve of the rails
are very important to the surfboard's performance.

The leash (attached to the leash strap) is the stretchy

plastic cord that keeps your board from running away using a
Velcro strap. The tail is the rear tip of the surfboard and it greatly affects the board's ride,
while the bottom is probably the most important aspect of your surfboard. It all depends
on how water flows over it and how much friction occurs between it and the water. This
is where fins are attached which allow the surfer to steer and be stable.

Design and effect

Width and length are also

very important details. You have
between 18'' and 24" of width to
choose from; typically. Wider
boards offer more fluctuation and
are the perfect choice for very
small, fat waves.

Surfboard thickness is also

relevant in wave riding
performance. Normally, the
thickness point is in the middle area
of the surfboard, but in some cases,
thickness can be held through the
tail and rocker. When this is the case - when the thickness level is almost even throughout
- it allows stability on a wave. Surfers experience greater balance over both feet as they
as they change positions throughout the ride. A well-distributed surfboard thickness helps
maintain control despite constant weight changes on the blank.
Rocker is considered by many shapers the most important feature on a surfboard.
When viewed from side, rocker is the curve of the surfboard from tail to nose. The
surfboard rocker is subdivided into nose rocker, center, and tail rocker. When it comes
to analyzing surfboard rocker, there are a few logical rules. The more rocker a surfboard
has, the looser and slower it will be. Plain and flat rocker delivers faster wave
performance, although and surfing maneuvers are harder to pull. Flat rocker works very
well on small wave boards.
Surfboard bottom contours are also essential. Concave and V-shaped contours
have similar performances, despite opposite designs. A concave surface - or channel-
type contour - will help your tail respond faster and more easily to rapid turns.
A flat contour is difficult to control at high speed.
The tapered pin tail is a great design for big waves because there is less board in
contact with the water and more speed is achieved. The rounded pin tail, round
tail, squash tail and rounded tail are all very common because they hold the surfboard
quite well in all-round surf conditions. The squash tail sits in the middle term. Sharper
edges, like the square tail, are more responsive to rad turns. Swallow tails help your
paddling power and are easier to control in small waves. Surfboard fins are part of the
entire hydrodynamic performance, but are an external feature. They are used to improve
directional steering through foot steering.

Perez, Niño Noel M. February 8, 2018
ME-3205 Group 15

What Makes A Surfboard Good?

As an introvert who has no interest in outdoor activities particularly in surfing

whatsoever, surfboards and surfing are one of the many topics that I don’t have much
knowledge of. However, that doesn’t stop the curious side of me to investigate and to
research about the different materials and composition of a typical surfboard. Come to
think of it, I find it fascinating how surfers manage to ride the waves and keep themselves
balanced, while still looking cool and rad. Of course, the surfer himself has the skills and
all, but a good surfboard is what a good surfer needs, and that’s a fact.

In determining the quality of a surfboard, certain conditions, such as the weight of

the board, the quality of materials used in the board, and the overall durability of the board
must be considered. Good surfboards must have a low mass to volume ratio, or in other
words, it must have a low density for maximum buoyancy and ease in steering. However,
craft it too light and it will affect the surfboard’s sturdiness, making it easy for waves and
other forces to snap the board in pieces. An ideal surfboard therefore, possesses the
perfect balance between its weight and durability.

In terms of the quality of materials in the surfboard, the three essential components
that make up a basic surfboard are the following: the resin, the fiberglass, and the foam
core. Stringers, which are long pieces of balsa wood located at the center of the surfboard,
are also included, and it can make the surfboard more sturdy and durable.

Obviously, using higher-grade materials will equate to higher durability and

performance, but it will cost more. Compared to their higher-quality equivalents, cheaper
resin tend to tinge the board yellow. They also become brittle in the long run, making it
susceptible to cracks upon impact, which in turn may cause damage in the fiberglass.
Longer-lasting boards also have around 3 layers of fiberglass, whereas cheaper ones use
less. The fins must be also made from this material, otherwise, it may quickly develop
dents and chips upon collision with obstructions such as corals and rocks.

With regards to the foam core, all three (polyurethane, polystyrene and expanded
polystyrene) are suitable for making surfboards, however, there are downsides to each
of them. The reason why surfboards use foams at their core is to achieve the lightest
weight possible while having a large volume. Polyurethane boards are the most common
material to use, but their toxicity to human health limits their use to a certain extent.
Polystyrene on the other hand isn’t as durable as the other three, while EPS is hard to
work with manually. EPS foam cores are the same material used in the disposable coolers
as we all are familiar with, and they tend to fall out when shaping the board by hand.
Nevertheless, EPS is gaining popularity these days for its lightweight property, and in
order to overcome its flaw, most EPS boards are created using machines.

So to answer the question “What makes a surfboard good”, my response will still
be based on the surfer himself. That may be anti-climactic and somewhat a troll of an
answer to the question given but it is true, technically speaking. Other than the
aforementioned materials, other factors to consider would be the surfer’s weight, and the
type of waves that the surfboard will be used for. One may have the best equipment, but
using the surfboard at incorrect circumstances will certainly affect it. Furthermore, failure
to take care of the surfboard properly will also result to a shorter life span for the board.

As I have said earlier, “a good surfboard is what a good surfer needs”, but it is also
true the other way around. It is also not wrong to say that: “A good and responsible surfer
is what makes a surfboard good”.