Beach bereak Shortboard

I am wondering what features (rocker, tail shape, etc) I should be looking for in a shortboard that will be used in chest to overhead beach break. A couple of my favorite breaks are quick, sectiony, close to close out beach breaks.

I am currently riding a 8ft hybrid but would like to soon transition down to a true shortboard that can duck dive better and control the pitch and energy of these waves. Also, what dimensons for a 165lb + wetsuit, 6ft tall guy?



Couple things gotta be considered here. One is skill level and experience. I would hate to recommend a certain kind of board, and have the person not able to ride it yet and have to work to it.

There are a lot of “big boy” shortboards out there in pretty much all shapes and sizes that I think fit the mold of what you are trying to get. I would think something in the 6’6" range, and a little less “gunny” than some shortboards get - unless the break is bigger than I imagine.

I’m 180 or so, and 5’10" - and ride a 6’0" 2 1/4" thick board for smiliar breaks. Not sure if that helps you or not.

Sometimes, the board will vary from beach to beach,eg.long paddle,short paddle,etc.

…Try some out first,buddies or something.It’ll give you a better idea of what you want.Herb

Why don’t you just mention your beach break, instead of keeping it a mystery.

“head to overhead” could mean anything up to 15’ +…at Jalama, OB, PE, Blacks…are you considering you might need a 8’6’ mini gun?

Yeah, might as well mention the beachbreak because it won’t get flooded with surfers due to posts on Swaylocks. Pretty mellow vibe here (and most these guys, me excluded, are experts on all the breaks anyway, so there probably won’t be any surprises).

My opinion (here it goes again) is LOW nose rocker on steep beachbreaks. I know, people will argue with me on this, but my thought is that a very, very low nose rocker (under three inches) will get you into the wave super early so that you can get to your feet faster and get moving quickly. The curvey boards (like those early nineties Slater things) are for guys who weigh 150 and are super light on their feet. A lot of rocker translates to easier turns, but I’d rather get in early and muscle my way through turns. I may not turn on a dime, but at least I can get some speed going.

Just my opinion. Get a rocker that’s 3 inches or less from center to nose. You’ll be glad you did. Oh, and put some width in that nose, about 14 inches or so. Those twelve and eleven inch noses are great for roundhouse cutbacks and sharp bottom turns, but that’s about it. The won’t help you catch waves.

My two cents (worth one).

Some conflicting opinions here. As mentioned earlier, it all depends on your skill. If you are transitioning from good beginner to intermediate, going from a 8ft to a 6ft board would not be my recommendation. Small boards are primarily for making radical contest maneuvers. Exaggerated rocker boards (early 90s) are good for controlling trim/maneuvers in tubey waves but bog in flat sections…and youre likely not surfing like Kelly Slater. A flat rockered board will work terribly in small (<chest) curvy/pitchy waves but may work well when it gets a little bigger.

For you weight and situation (transitioning from bigger board), a big guy shortboard is recommended…between 6’4 and 6’8. A wider board (~20") will plane faster, get you on earlier but have less control at fast speeds. A narrow board (<19") will offer more control at speed and draw your turns out a bit more (good for carving).

I ride a 6’6 X19 (175lb) and can do pretty much what I want…I dont feel Im compromising anything AND I catch more waves. Most of what I ride is sectiony beach break in Florida…but I have been surfing 25 years.

Forgot to mention…

For overhead beach break I recommend a bigger shortboard (6’4-6’8) with these features:

18.5 - 19 in wide

~14 in tail width

round/thumb tail or rounded pin

Standard “R” blank rocker with some extra tail rocker works great.

Rocker should be VERY SMOOTH…~5"nose and 2.5-2.75" tail.

The Clark 6’6P is a great reference blank for high-perf surfing.

You need to determine the thickness that works best for you. But in general,

2.25-2.5 inches depending on how fast you want to paddle and drop in.

A local shaper here on the East Coast has been doing a lot of boards for my friends (most of us are in our late 30’s or 40’s and we definitely are not flyweights, 175 -195 lbs ) that they really love (for instance 6’8” 12.25 x 20.75 x 14.5 x 2 ¾). They have wide squash tails (14.5” – 15”) a wide tail block about 6.5” and fairly thick in the tail. The bottom configuration is a single to double concave, rocker is about 5NR, 2 ½ TR they paddle and catch waves really well good but still maneuver well. We ride beach breaks in the outer banks usually 3- 6+ with good juice but not always good form

It is all up to what you like and are comfortable with, the object is to ride waves and have fun!


Thanks for all of the help. I’m getting a clearer idea what to look for.

I live in Washington State and surf here and Oregon. A lot of our breaks are what I described in my first post. Pitchy, quick, sectiony beachbreak. There is no secret spot; La Push, Westport, Seaside Cove, Short Sands, etc.

I’ve been riding 9ft and 10ft boards for years now and have recently moved down to a 8ft hybrid. I love the thing. I love it so much that when winter approaches, I want to get something even smaller and more dynamic because I love carving turns and I’m tired of getting hammered getting out with a longboard. That said, I do not want to go too small and thin because we rarely get super clean and super big at the same time plus I’m 39 years old. I can use all the paddle help I can get.

Any other opinions would be welcome. Thanks again, SF

If you love the 8’ hybrid, you might consider moving down in increments. Get yourself a 7’6"; if that works well for you add a 7’0" to your quiver. If you can still paddle that, get a 6’6". You’ll also find that as you move to smaller and smaller boards, your paddling muscles will get stronger. Assuming you surf regularly, of course. I’m 47 yrs old (soon to be 48) and just about your weight; I don’t have any problem paddling into beach breaks on a 6 foot fish or a 7 foot pintail. Just work your way there…

Of course building up a quiver like this is a lot easier and cheaper if you’re making your own boards. If not, used ones are a lot cheaper than new ones… never underestimate the value of a good quiver!

My brother used to live and surf up there (BTW, if you see a wierd 7’4" hollow wood swallow tail, let me know, it was stolen from him in northern oregon). From what I understand clean conditions are a rarity and you get a lot of size.

If you’re going to paddle out when it is bigger, you’ll want something in the 7’ range with good center thickness (2 5/8+) and a round pin tail. But for small (<2 feet overhead) days and a bigger guy I’ve become a big believer in a very low nose rocker with a bunch of tail rocker in the last few inches of the board and a loose fin set. The board will take off early, from your front foot you can generate lots of speed, and from the back you can make quick and responsive turns and adjustments to work with wierd/unpredicatable waves. I’ve got a board like this now that is absolute magic.

And wearing probably a hooded 5/4/3? Don’t be afraid to bump reccomended sizes from california guys by a 1/4" in width and thickness.

Can you have some nose rocker (around 5") for steeper drops but get some speed out of it by putting in a concave?


P.S. I love this website. I have been following it lately and have learned a lot. I look at boards in a new light now. I can see the reasoning, pros and cons of all the different features. As a result, my last board turned out to be really well suited to my surfing due to all the input and research I did here. Thanks.

I appreciate nose rocker on steeper drops too.

Narrow noses also duckdive better.

Shorter boards turn faster, as do boards with more rocker, or fins placed better.

A good shaper would take a look at your funboard, and go from there, without making too large a change in anything. You probably don’t want a large change in

  1. buoyancy

  2. rocker line

  3. thickness

  4. fin setup

  5. tail width

  6. max width

but you probably do want to change ALL of them. That is where a good local shaper comes in. You probably want to ask the guys who’ve been surfing your area the longest who a decent custom shaper is, and talk to him. It is really hard to advise someone on specifics across the internet unless a REALLY detailed description of the current board is given, and a REALLY detailed description of how you would like its performance to change.

Everyone loves these kinds of posts! I’m on the Texas Gulf Coast so ALL we have is beach break. Wintertime and Storm season will give us overhead and some punch. For a guy your size and used to paddling a longboard I would venture the following.

6’5 to 6’7 (6’5" is about right for you but add the suit and an extra 2 inches will be appreciated.)

6’7" x 12 x 19.5 x 14.5 x 7 pod(1" up from the tail) rounded squash 2 5/8 thick with a bit fuller rail under your chest/gut. I like docs idea about relaxed nose rocker but lets not get too drastic here. Use a low entry and carry it back to your midpoint. I like a flat spot under the front foot with a single concave starting @5T (5 inches tailside of center) blend that into a double running through the fins and a touch of “V” out the back and it will fly! Add an extra 1/4 tail rocker to handle the bottom turn of the late take offs and to loosen it up some. A board this size will feel REAL small to you at first after riding the 8 footer. Should be good to 2 to 4 foot overhead. Just my 2 cents!


I should have said very low “entry rocker” rather than “nose rocker”. You can have a flip to help you keep from digging your nose, but what I’m prescribing is a long area with little rocker from between your feet up through say 6-8" from the nose. That is for paddling and front-foot drive.

I’ve never had a problem with late/steep/critical drops on my board that is configured like I described above. We are still talking about overhead and smaller, right? You don’t have to make as many late drops if your board paddles better.

depending on how heavy of a beachbreak ur talking about. Id consider something in the way of an oldschool tri-fin fish. I ride a 5’9 in almost all surf at my break andit holds up great. Very flat. Almost no visible nose rocker fromt the top. and very little from the profile. the tail however has slightly more.

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