Catching waves

i dont understand…

do boards with less rocker actually have more trouble catching a waves than boards with more rocker due to form drag?? the surface area is nearly the same, and so is the volume… so it must be the rocker…

my 6.020.752.5 weighing 330 grams, flat bottom, sharp rails, quad pretty average rails, down.

has more difficulties catching waves than my 5.921.52.5 quad fish by coil weighing 3.5 kg real thin rails

it blows my mind everytime, why? i can only think of the most important difference, being the rocker in the two boards, mine is flatter and more buoyant [lighter by 200 or so grams] and the coil has more rocker… keeps nose out? less wetted surface? less drag?

i feel stupid


I’ve wondered the same thing myself. Board sits more “in” the wave instead of on top and therefore is in contact with more wave energy??? I thought maybe it had to do with volume or float (up to a point anyway)…floatier boards almost seeming more difficult to catch waves with, but those same boards…coincidentally…typically have less rocker as well (my boards anyway).

My reply is more of an additional question than an anwer…I’m sure people here have better thoughts on this than I do.


hey matt

yeah, that was an old post i remember, good on you!

maybe more rockered boards that sit deeper in the water use that small wave energy better indeed!

and for what it is wort: mine has wp back like 3.5 as well as rocker -0- point behind centre

another difference is front fins, mine has h2 mediums, will throw those out too, and buy the exact same stretch fins for fcs instead of futures… to see if that helps? surely not…

anyways –> rocker and float combo feels like the answer, without being sure… have to make another one of that board i mean–> see second post about glassing, which is the second version of it…will do round tail with wings on that one…

I had this thought about rocker and catching waves-  


I feel you have to get a board pointing “downhill” to drop in. You ever watch beginners miss waves because their board is pointing “uphill?”


My most recent board has flattish rocker and it seems it’s harder to push the nose downhill to get into waves.  I’ve had boards with narrower noses and lots of flip that seemed easy to get into waves, but you have to do the spin, sink the tail and pop into the wave technique.  You can’t chase them down from outside.  The lack of nose area makes them easy to  point downhill. The flatter rocker boards you really need to get paddle speed up and kind of chase the wave down from outside.  At least that’s what I’m thinking. Does that make sense?

I recently had a side by side comparison - a 6’2" with lots of width and volume (a Simmons style fish) against a more conventional thruster shape - around the same length but a 1/2 inch or more thinner and 4 inches or so narrower (a lot less float and planing surface), plus a lot more rocker. Traded boards literally in the water, and - on shoulder high waves - was surprised how easy the lower volume, higher rockered board caught waves. It was A LOT slower once up and riding, but still caught them relatively easy. Only a few waves, so it could just be circumstance (better, steeper waves may have pushed through)…who knows. Sometimes I feel like I have to go really deep with the Simmons-style board though - but strangely - only on bigger waves - kind of weird.


One caveat - I haven’t had the one board long enough to really have it dialed in. Could just be the initial getting-used-to-it phase (despite the above, it remains one of the most enjoyable boards I’ve ever owned)



Now this is a fun question.

mattp and llilibel03 are on to it in my opinion. Have some fun, download and start playing with the following buoyancy demo. It should have some example files with it.

Run the simplebob file and make sure you’ve got some wave action going. Notice how the bob sinks and slides a little as it rises on the face of the standing wave. (You’ll have to play around a bit with the numbers i.e. the slider-bars.) 

A demo with a progressive wave would really bring the effect home - if anyone wants to send me the $400 for Flash I’ll give it a shot - and be forever grateful… okay maybe not forever.

Of course I’m assuming that, like most people on a shortboard you’ll take off pretty late.

One more thing, surfing and catching waves are two different sports and the optimal craft for each is different - luckily there can be a lot of overlap, but what catches waves well, doesn’t necessarily surf well, and vice versa.

By the way 330 gm… jeez, what are you building boards out of up there?



… and if you find you have absolutely nothing else to do see The role of buoyancy during paddle-in take-off thread.

I like what Duke said:ride the wave,not the board.

what I mean is,same spot,different day,different swell,different wave.


Air replaced with helium. It’s called “hydroheliumpneumaticflexcontrol”

It’s new, has a fancy name so it’s worth the 1000$


(by the way, I think he just forgot to write a 0: 330g -> 3300g)

your experience is right inline with my experience lillibel... in fact, i've been helping a friend learn to surf. after paying attention to what i do to catch a wave, i told him that, when he's paddling for a wave, he needs to lean forward and put his weight more to his chest just as he's about to take off. i told him he needs to get his nose down and put his momentum down the wave face. i didn't really think about it as 'downhill' as you say but i think you're description is right. i'll have to tell him next time we're out... his response was that he thought he would pearl which is a whole 'nother issue. i'm thinking the answer for that is to just get to your feet quicker which is a problem most if not all beginners are plagued with.

I'll defer to kc on the wave physics portion, but from a dynamics perspective my opinion would be that the fish is a more effecient planing platform and the rocker apex being so far back on your 6'0'' is also having an effect.

I don't know if he'll check this thread, but hackeysaky has some interesting preferences in his shapes that fit in here.

Or it could be that the Coil catches waves better because of the unobtainium used in it's construction.

And I was also startled by the 330 gr weight until it dawned on me you forgot a zero.

By the time I get back to this thread in a couple of hours it'll be a raging firefight.

For your beginner friend, best thing (in my opinion) is to advise that weight positioning is dynamic and should get adjusted in accordance with the individual wave. If he weights forward for paddling speed by pushing his chest down (mushy waves or paddling in early), he may need to lift up his chest and shoulders after the wave is caught to avoid pearling (because of wave shape, steepness, bumps in the face, etc.). Conversely, if he’s deeper on the next wave, he may NOT want to “weight forward” at all - it’s really a wave by wave feel sort of thing (in my humble opinion).


What about the idea that more rocker in the tail picks up more energy from the wave, thus making it easier to catch. Has anyone ever heard of this idea?

i was thinking its center of weight in relationship to rocker. thin less bouyant tails are also better i rekon. if the board catches wave bad you need to lie further forward. if the rocker and planeshape doesnt allow you to, making the nose dip under then you may have a problem.

anyway. just paddle your fucking ass off everyday and you wont have a problem

yeah so you get leverage off the shoulder line. theres a triangle on you shoulder points and your center of weight somewhere below the chest. so the center of this triangle must be in the correct place of nose entry rocker. the more the nose is foiled out and thinner the further you can lie back . so the centre of the triangle is at a lower point in the rocker. in contrast on a shorter wide nosed board with more volume you need to lie well forward .

fck knows . i certainly dont. but if it looks and feels good it goes good

Your Coil has 4% more beam, and depending on the placement of the widepoint, that beam might be placed in a more advantageous position to facilitate planing. How wide are the tails at 12"?

A center point 3.5" behind center means you’ve got width behind where you need it (under your chest).

Just an alternative view as my experience has been that more tail rocker means less ability to catch waves. my rockered out Stewart longboard, compsand and tri-fin don’t catch waves for shit unless you’re sitting right in the pit.

I think, first, you have to recognize that there are so many differences between the two boards that it’s going to be difficult if not impossible to attribute any one design element to how they catch waves. A better analysis would be if you had two boards that are identical, except for different rockers… or tail widths… or tail shapes… or wide points… whatever. Primarily, I believe you have to realize that the two boards are paddled differently in terms of where you’re weight is relative to thick point, rocker apex, wide point, distance from tail, etc… as has already been mentioned. If you had to put your finger on something, that’s what I would suggest.

But… if you isolate the variable, and you’re talking about tail rocker alone, I think flatter tails enguage the wave’s energy sooner than rockered tails, and so catch waves easier. And I think that’s true for both longboards and shortboards in typical wave-catching senarios. I think that before you’re pushed forward by the wave, you’re lifted, like the cork in the pan of water back in high school… the cork’s primary movement is up and down. So flatter tails, wider tails, higher volume tails, tails with hard, square edges… all help catch waves better, all other things being equal.

Since I ride (knee)boards 23.5" wide and 30% overbouyant I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get a low volume board that paddles in well (because cork disks don’t!).  My observations are:

  • Width in nose is a killer for all paddling. 
  • Outline curve seems to have a huge impact at some point between 18" and 24" (6-8' length - I'm not talking mals here)
  • Volume helps with paddle to the break, but is less-no advantage in catching (real) waves (fat mush not counted).  Of course you can paddle in earlier on a fatty and thus hog waves.
  • Tail volume helps wave catching (my tail rails are under 1/2", so I dome heavily in the tail.
  • Tail kick helps because you always make the drop (so you don't pull out when your feet get higher than your head when paddling in)
  • I have no input on rocker - those I tune for wave riding, not paddling.
Of course technique is the key ingredient in all of this.  Positioning on wave and board; paddling method and timing - I don't need to paddle if I get all these right.

hey red-boards

interesting remark on the 18-24 curve, i tend to think of those numbers as from nose… ?

what you say about volume is what my experience is too… super easy to paddle anywhere.

it is not my technique or fitness that impedes me from taking a waves, prohibits? that part is all good. i can feel subtle or obvious difference in my boards, and am trying to understand them differences better… and all the replies help.

my take is drag from water pushing too much against the board when catching waves, and this because the board stays flat on top of water too much, nose doesnt go down indeed, it is wide, and thick…

ill post pictures soon of the two boards in question


p.s. and buy stretch his fins, so that the fins are out of equa…tion/? every millimeter counts in surfboard land


My understanding is;  More rocker is better for success in a late drop situation.  To catch a wave early, the less rocker the better.  (Not at the tip though)