Document Type

Closed Project

Publication Date

Winter 2013


Jisun Kim

Course Title

Technology Forecasting

Course Number

ETM 532/632


Surfboard design has always been a very personal thing. Shapers tend to be surfers themselves, and board design is as much an engineering feat as it is a love for surfing. Professional surfers work closely with shapers, as each surfer rides waves differently, and they know better than anyone how their surfboard needs to perform. The design process of a surfboard has always been a case of trial and error. A template is designed, and then experimented with in the water, then feedback is considered and alterations are made accordingly [1]. From surfboards carved from trees, weighing 100 pounds, and having the maneuverability of a log, the history of the surfboard has shown a great evolution in surfboard design and manufacturing [2]. There are many theories behind the practice of surfboard design. The surfboard has seen multiple generations of design enhancements since the movement started gathering momentum in the 1950's. However, new innovation peaked in the 1960’s and continues to evolve at a much slower pace. In fact, the industry has seen the return of balsa wood, long boards, and traditional shapes – a retro revival of sorts. The design of a surfboard still remains a fusion of ideas and instincts shared by the surfer and his or her shaper [3]. The surfboard design process begins with identifying the desires, needs, or goals of the surfer and his/her environment; identifying the variables (dimensions, rockers, bottom contours, deck contours, foils, templates, rails, fins, and more) in a specific technology (surfboard shaping and construction); hypothesizing arrangements of these variables (6' 2" x 18 1/2" x 2 3/8", squash single to double concave, soft crown deck, moderate foil, soft thin round rail) through intuition and reasoning; testing the results of these arrangements (surfing and observation); and bringing new hypothesis into the process based on these tests and any new ideas that may develop. Surfboards may be grouped into several primary classes: Short boards, Specialty Short boards, Big Wave Guns, Hybrids, and Long boards [3]. This paper will explore the history and evolution of the surfboard, the composition and primary decision elements used in surfboard design, the major technology enhancements and branches of evolution, and provide a foundation that can be used to predict future technological enhancements in the surfboard industry.


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