If you’ve been around surfing long enough you’ll have heard the term ‘Surfboard Stringer’ pop up more than once I’m sure.
But what exactly is it, and what does it do?
All good questions, and all will be answered in this post.
WHAT IS A SURFBOARD STRINGER
A surfboard stringer is a thin piece of wood that’s built into the construction of a surfboard blank.
The wood type and construction of the stringer will vary across different manufacturers (more on that in a minute), with some adding more strength than others, each with varying levels of flex.
WHAT DOES A STRINGER DO ON A SURFBOARD
The stringer adds strength and rigidity to a surfboard, and reduces flex within the blank to assist with the shaping process too.
Most people think that a surfboards stringer is what gives a surfboard all its strength, but that’s not entirely true.
In fact it’s the double wrapping of the fibreglass cloth over the rails of a surfboard impacts the overall strength and durability far more.
Sure, the stringer adds a little extra strength, but definitely not as much as one might assume.
Rather than strength, think of it as something that adds a certain flex to the board when it’s being surfed, allowing the board to bend a little and react back at you, rather than purely for strength purposes.
DOES A SURFBOARD NEED A STRINGER
Absolutely not, in fact many surfboards shapes nowadays are built without them.
The key difference as to whether a surfboard requires a stringer or not will be the type of resin used in its construction.
Polyurethane resin, aka PU (used in surfboard construction since the 60’s), has a degree of flex to it, and it’s not particularly strong, hence why these surfboards require a stringer to be present.
Without them, PU construction boards would flex too much, and would break very quickly.
Epoxy resin on the other hand is much stiffer, and much harder than PU resin, allowing shapers to do away with the stringer entirely as over-flexing is no longer an issue.
Because epoxy is naturally stronger than PU, and blanks no longer need the stringer, these boards can be made much lighter - which is why lots of people choose to ride them in smaller, weaker waves.
ARE SURFBOARDS WITH STRINGERS BETTER THAN BOARDS WITHOUT
There’s no hard and fast rule as to which is better, as it’s all about feel.
Typically, most surfers will prefer the feel of stringered PU surfboards in waves above about 4ft, as the flex and float of the surfboard tends to cut through the water really well.
And in surfing smaller, weaker waves - where skimming over the top of the water is more preferable - stringerless epoxy’s are the go-to.
WHAT KIND OF WOOD IS USED FOR SURFBOARD STRINGERS
Blank manufactures have gotten pretty creative over the years, and there’s a bunch of different wood types used in stringer manufacturing.
These are the most common type you’ll find, but in all honest there's no hard and fast rule as to its construction.
CAN YOU HAVE MORE THAN ONE STRINGER ON A SURFBOARD
In theory you can have as many of you like, and with each additional stringer you can expect a different flex and feel to go with it.
Typically, shortboards will come with just the single stringer, but longboards on other hand often come with more.
Probably more down to aesthetics than anything else in all honesty, nevertheless, they look cool so go nuts I say.
If you’re just starting out, the type of wood, the degree of flex - or whether a board has a stringer or not won’t be something that affects your performance in the slightest.
Instead, these little nuanced differences in flex and feel are pretty much only felt by elite surfers that are sensitive to these smallest of changes.
Whether you decide to go with one, two, or three stringer - or none at all, at least now you know everything there is to know about them to make informed decisions moving forward.
Hope this helps.