Anatomy of a Beginner Surfboard

Lesson 2 Chapter 1

Your surfboard is made up of several parts. Each section or part of a surfboard has a specific purpose. Understanding these parts is important when buying a new or used surfboard.

Let's take a look in detail, into the following parts of the beginner surfboard:

  • Nose
  • Tail
  • Rails
  • Deck
  • Bottom
  • Fins


Simply put, this is the front of the board. They come in a couple of different shapes depending on what type of board you ride. It will either be rounded, like the classic longboard shape or pointed like a high-performance shortboard (or somewhere in between).


This is what surfers refer to when talking about the back of the surfboard. There are 3 traditional shapes you should know:

  • Squash: For all-around performance in a variety of conditions
  • Swallow: Designed for smaller waves
  • Pintail: Built for big wave surfing


This is what we call the sides of the surfboard. There are three different types of rails:

  • Soft
  • Hard
  • Pinched

The majority of surfboards will have a blend of soft and hard rails


The deck is the top side of the surfboard and is where the surfer stands to surf and lays to paddle.


When you're riding across a wave on a surfboard, water passes beneath the bottom of the board. The water's hitting the bottom at a variety of angles and under various pressures, and it's constantly changing those angles and pressures -- but generally, it moves from somewhere near the front half of the board, through part or all of the bottom contour, and out somewhere near the back half, even directly off the board's tail.


Fins are used to help steer your board in the right direction, similar to a rudder in a boat. Most boards will use a three fin set up (also known as a thruster), however, there are a few other combinations to look out for:

  • Single fin - Built for small wave cruising
  • Twin fin - Super fast, great for small waves
  • Quad - Four fin set up. Perfect for steep hollow waves
  • Five fin - Also known as the Bonza. Great for bit drawn out turns