Design/Build Thread: 11' Glider

Thought I’d venture out and share some of my own work. I don’t expect to make very fast progress on this project, I’m out of town for a week or two then have to get some old furniture out of the garage before I can start shaping. Could be a month or more before I produce any dust. But I’ll try to post updates here at every stage.

Within the last year, I found out that I have a congenital bone disorder in my left shoulder - meaning I was born with weird bone structure in that arm. I also have a partially torn labrum, and it’s not worth surgically repairing because the way my shoulder is shaped it would likely tear again soon anyway. There’s likely a shoulder replacement in my future, although hopefully that’s 10 or 20 years off. It’s not recommended that people with my condition participate in activities like swimming or surfing, but my doctor told me I can still do those things at my discretion. 

I’ve never been a high performance surfer in the first place, but now my focus is definitely on doing what I can to keep surfing for a long time. I’m not that old, turning 30 this month. Hopefully there are still a lot of waves in my future. 

One of my first shapes was a big bloated glider. At first it was great being able to catch waves so easily, but the novelty wore off quickly. Now though I feel like the idea is worth revisiting. Besides, I’ve moved to a new part of the country, and most of my local breaks are really wide flat beaches. I think it would be fun to catch waves outside, then try to make it past all of the flat sections and reforms, and cruise all the way to the sand. Take my time walking back up the beach, paddle out through the channel, and repeat, hopefully giving others plenty of chances to catch waves while I’m completing my circuit. 

I’ve been playing with an outline for a while. It’s really wide in order to avoid the popsicle stick look, 25 1/4". I’m quite tall and can carry the 27" wide Millenium 113P blank under my arm, so I don’t anticipate that being a problem. 

Other details:

Bottom contours: I really like rolled entry (only first 1’-2’), fading to subtle triplane. Slight double concave through the center, around the location I anticipate standing. Concaves and triplane disappear at leading edge of the fins, flat off the tail. 

Rails: I have a rail profile I really like to use. Tempted to adjust this and make the rails just a bit thinner than usual because of the tremendous width of this board.

Rocker: 4 1/2" nose, 4" tail? These numbers come from an old John Mellor post.

Fins: 2+1 boxes for versatility.

Feedback welcomed, both positive and negative.


Nice looking outline. I’m planning to shape something similar, in the 9-6 range.

At 67 years young I have osteoarthritis in both hips, one has been replaced, and I don’t get out as much as I used to. And the covid crowds are more intense nowadays.

So thats my rationale for a longer glider type board. I’ll be watching this thread.

In the meantime, as you probably know, there have been some good “glider” threads in the past, that are worth revisiting, for the contributions from the knowledgeable - John Mellor and Guilhelm Rainfray specifically, and others too. Barry Snyder & Albert Elliot have posted some very nice work in this genre.

I’ve never shaped a glider.  I remember Skip Frye being quoted something to the effect that he goes to 21" for his gliders because that’s what he can wrap his arm around.    Bear in mind that you have to paddle the thing, so if you’re having problems with your shoulders you might want to take into consideration the width of your board relative to your shoulder widths.   

I don’t know for sure but it seems TO ME that the extended rail line is your engine for this type of board so you may not need the extra width in order to have an adequate amount of wetted surface area.   

Good point! I’ll have to compare the width to the outlines of my other boards and think about how that would feel to paddle. Thanks for pointing that out. Most of my issues are with reaching directly overhead, so maybe it won’t be an issue. But I’d hate to invest all the time and resources and just create a new problem for myself. 

My reasoning for going extra wide is based on the idea that a curvier outline might result in a board that’s easier to turn. Again, this isn’t for high performance surfing, but I know from experience that I’ll need to at least be able to kick out, and be able to avoid flotsam in the white wash. You have to be really really careful surfing a heavy 11 foot board, on a 10 feet leash, wrapped around an ankle that’s 6 feet from your head… huge radius.

I’m also wondering, if I do go extra wide, whether I should make the rails a little thinner to compensate? My daily drivers are 9’0" x 23" wide (for small waves), and 7’10" x 22" wide (for medium waves). Both have the same rail shape. The 7’10" has thinner rails because it gets enough speed and energy from the waves. The 9’0" has thicker rails because I need it to carry speed over flat sections and in less energetic waves. But an 11’0" should have no problem in slow sections anyway. My old glider was really crude, and so thick I had to take a half step away from the stringer towards the rail to get the thing to “turn”.

Another one of my early shapes was way to thin, with really knifey rails. It was bad at almost everything. Didn’t paddle well, didn’t turn well, hard to take off, but it was so fast going straight down the line. 

It’s your board, so you do you.   But if I were doing a glider I would stick to the original design/layout and adapt my surfing to what the design is intended to do.  As far as I can tell there are basically two approaches to surfing a glider, the way Skip Frye does it and the way Herbie Fletcher does it.  I favor Skip Frye’s style so that’s the direction I would go.   

Speaking of, I’ll mention that some people really love the way Frye does his rails and others basically hate them.   It’s a specialty design that’s aimed at a specific approach to the conditions in which you would surf them.   As in, not a versatile design at all.      They’d be fun in  long 1-3ft mushy faces, but terrifying on a 6ft face with any amount of energy because of how fast they run.  

My opinion only.   Your mileage may vary.   

Assume you’re on a regular PT Theraband routine to keep the shoulders as strong as possible?  

Not clear why you need a 25" board unless you are hella hefty, that much board just puts that much more strain on your shoulders paddling, especially if having to punch back through beachbreak…the popsicle stick look usually generated by pin gliders with parallel rails, curvier RP outlines much less so.

This 10’6 x 23 2+1 eps/epoxy glider from Tim Stamps with curvy outline and rocker is a whole lotta fun knee high to HH, and at 17# makes those treks to waters edge an easy tote.

Regarding 2+1, suggest putting those sidebites up at 17", much easier to turn without those sidebites anchored further back. 


+1 that 25" is too wide.

I’m six foot six and used to weigh about 250.  I made a 10’4" x 24 x 4" tandem board so one of my 60-pound kids could come with me.  That loaded the board over 300 pound and it still moved across the water with grace and style, plus, they loved it.  I rode it alone one day on overhead waves at Zeroes (outside Tonggs) one day and it was a total blast taking off easy/early, holding at the top, then taking a step forward and RUNNING it down the line where the wave petered out in the channel.  

I templated off a Phil Edwards Special I saw in a magazine, square tail is easier to glass, wider nose that yours, with some concave there just for grins.  I don’t really believe the concave was good for anything, but it looked all that.

Thanks for the input!

Shoulder situation is a bit weird. I’m doing theraband stuff for the impingement, and that helps. The other issue is my bone structure in the left shoulder doesn’t allow for full range of motion. In order to reach directly overhead, I have to twist my upper torso in a funny way. When I surf, those muscles that I use to twist become tired quickly, and then I lose that range of motion. Without twisting, in order to fully extend my arm, I have to angle it slightly out to the side. Kind of like the guy doing the letter “T” in the attached image.

The tricky part is that some of the exercises and stretches I do to help with the impingment actually make the range of motion problem worse, and vice versa. Anyway, I’ll definitely mock up something to try to get a sense for how it would feel paddling such a wide board before I start cutting.

What would be the trade offs going wider and thinner vs narrower and thicker? Eg 25" wide and 3.5" thick, or 24" wide and 3.75 thick, for example. These are made up numbers by the way - what I’ll end up doing is printing a template in board CAD, and then foiling by eye/feel after cutting the rocker into the blank.

For what it’s worth, I’m 6’8", 215 pounds. 

For inspiration. 

Hi everyone,

Finally picking this back up - the plan is to start shaping this week. Here is the outline I settled on:

11’0" length, 24" widest point, 15.5" nose, 14.75" tail. I think 24" wide is a little more sane than the 25.25" number I was playing with originally, but I still want to go wider than 23". It doesn’t make sense to me that an 11’ board would be the same width as a 9’6".

I cut a spin template out of hardboard using a circular saw. I don’t have any pictures from the process, but I laid the hardboard on a big sheet of foam insulation on the ground. I set the depth of cut on the saw to the thickness of the material. It was surprisingly easy to cut a smooth, precise curve this way. There was still some tuning up needed with the surform, but the cut came out cleaner than ones I’ve done in the past with a jigsaw, and I didn’t have to clamp things down or deal with the saw making the hardboard bounce up and down.

Also, my shoulder is doing a lot better now after a year and a half of exercise and stretching, but I still think this is going to be fun project and a fun board to have around.

More to come soon, I promise…


looking forward to this one

Thanks Huck!

Had to replace some foam on my shaping racks but I got the shaping bay set up today:

Beast of a blank. It’ll take me a day and a half to foil this thing.

I took down the stringer with a hand plane before I started cutting:

Made a mark 18” up from the tail and roughed in some rocker:

Then skinned the bottom:

This is why I always do these steps before cutting the outline.

Checked the blank for twist using some winding sticks, and sanded that out:

That’s the bottom smooth and flat:

1 Like

Off to a great start

1 Like

Really cool! I am planning to make an 11’ as well.

1 Like

Foiled the deck today. I took down the nose and tail by cross cutting. Didn’t really measure anything, just made gradual cuts as far as I could comfortably reach. Tapered things down until the blank was about an inch thick at each end:

After that I made nose to tail passes until the thickness at the center came down to 4”. Again, no particular reason for that number. This thing is going to paddle well no matter what. The blank was 169 liters!

The nose and tail are nicely foiled now as a result:

My experience with my old glider taught me that really big boards don’t have to be very thick at all in the nose and tail. There’s plenty of surface area and volume to catch waves early and stay on a plane in low energy surf. Might as well get rid of the extra weight.

Things always get a bit wonky on me when foiling the deck. I have a hard time starting and finishing my cuts on the curved surface. Oh well, most of that stuff will get cut out when I do the outline anyway. Then after I cut the outline, I do a step where I measure the thickness of the blank in a bunch of points to check for bumps and asymmetry. So I have a chance to fix things before moving on.

I traced the outline on the blank but haven’t cut it yet:

It kind of looks like there might be a warble in the template near the center of the board, but I think it’s just the rough edge of the blank that makes it look that way. I’ve checked my pencil line against a straight edge and it seems ok.

I’ll cut the outline rough with a jigsaw, then take things down with a sanding tool. When I finish things off with the sand paper, I like to flip the blank upside down so that I can’t see my pencil line. That way there’s nothing to trick the eye, in case my line wasn’t straight. I can just focus on getting a smooth curve.

This board is really big. I’m nearly 7 feet tall and usually ride a 9’0”, but this thing is something else. I always get a kick out of it when I see people at the beach who are like 5’6”, 130lbs surfing huge 10’ nose riders.

When I did the outline in Board CAD, I was afraid the nose and tail were too pulled in, but I based the width on other boards that I know work well. Seeing things full scale, I’m glad I didn’t go any wider at the nose or tail. I’ll have to wait and see if going 24” wide at center was a good idea or not.

1 Like

Cut the outline today. The blank is so thick, the jigsaw didn’t cut all the way through and I had to finish things off with a handsaw. I can’t imagine cutting the whole template that way. I have the utmost respect for anyone who can accurately cut an outline with a handsaw.

I cleaned things up using this tool, which I modified a while ago:

My contribution is the block of plywood with the chamfer on one edge. This makes it possible to sand the whole outside face of the board without sawdust bunching up in the corner.

1 Like

Clean looking outline. Coming along nicely. That’s a lot of board to deal with. How did you make the template?

1 Like


I drew the outline in board CAD, and printed it out on a grid of 8.5x11 sheets. Then I glued those pages onto a sheet of Masonite and cut out the template using a circular saw.

1 Like

Cool! I drew mine freehand on 1/4” grid paper at 1:12 scale, then scaled up using 3” grid squares. Far different than your approach, but the template looks almost identical (this was for a 9’ board). More than one way to skin a cat
(horrible expression! :black_cat:)

“I always get a kick out of it when I see people at the beach who are like 5’6”, 130lbs surfing huge 10’ nose riders.”

Sez the guy shaping an 11 footer lol. Trust me the shortboarders will be smirking at you exactly the same. If a guy is 5-6 and having a blast on a ten footer, more power to him (says me - the guy who’s 5-7 and rides a 9-6 lol)

Keep the pics & commentary coming, we’re loving this thread.