hard thick rails, I mean razor sharp

I’ve been looking through the forums, reading up on rails and everybody seems to say pretty much the same thing about rail distribution; ie hard in the tail to softer towards the nose, 60/40, 50/50, blah blah blah. But I was wondering if anybody (besides Greenough) has actually made and ridden a board with razor sharp rails from tip to tip? Everybody seems to say the know what should happen, but what does happen? Somebody must have tried it in the past forever ago.

I, for one, neva have, so I just made a board that is 6’5", 20 3/4"wide, 2" thick flying disk type shape with completely flat deck and bottom, 1 1/4" tail rocker and 3 1/2" in the nose. I basically just shaped the foil into a blank and didn’t touch the rails, and left the nose very thick.

I surf mostly steep, almost just as often mushy, small east coast waves and I feel this is an important endeavor if only for research sake. The only way to really know why something does or does not work is to try it for oneself, right?

If anyone is interested, heck even if you aren’t, I’m going to share my findings.

Hi Pat,

One of my fishes has sharp rails tip to tip. I like it. But the advantages of tip to tip hard rails seems to have a narrow sweet spot. I mean I really feel the release/hold that it provides but when the bigger waves start to hit, I sometimes wish my fish had a more traditional rail set up. But on mushy days, its definitely a plus. I have a deep concave too…so I really make use of the water under my feet :slight_smile:

There’s some people on here that use hard rails. And it seems they like it.



Atlas Woods has/had one. My boss use to surf in NZ and he’s got one in his office for posterity… old and beaten up from his surfing days. It has super sharp rails all around, pin tail with a full nose. I was curious how it rode. I can prolly get dimensions.

~ Ghost

I meant this profile all around the premimeter…

do you mean like a really pinched, thin rail??? if so, i got a couple and they work just fine.super grip…

I made plenty of thick railed, hard turned downers from nose to tail.

Only thing you gotta do is keep some continous rocker throughout the board.

Works fine, steep or flat waves, best in glassier surf, great for backside, needs a fair amount of V for control at higher speed, and slightly narrower templates.

Hey Lee,

I think it was you that recommended a sharp rail for my fish. I haven’t thanked you. Thank you.



The Surfer’s Journal volume twelve number two has an article entitled

“Kicking Over The Traces” by Bob McTavish. in it he talks about rails like

you are describing. he also discusses a little of who was making them

around 1969 and how they rode. he also goes on to discuss rail evolution

to the modern thruster… it’s a great article by a master shaper

I made a solid balsa board with rails like your drawing, in 1959. It rode about average for boards of the day. There was nothing especially noteworthy about it, except the looks. It was a beautiful departure from the norm.

I made a 6-10 x 20.5 x 2.5 compsand egg recently and by mistake I ended up with down rails from nose to tail. It’s also got a concave bottom. The board isn’t the easiest thing to ride but the rails do hold in when I’m trying to get around a section of whitewater. I tend to ride this board a little more forward. The combination of rails and bottom make it a little faster than a soft rail board.

I also have a 5-11 x 21 x 2.5 quad that has pinched rails with a hard edge. I think the board rides better because the bottom has beveled sides (slightly rolled). I have a photo of the 6-10 from the nose.

Razor sharp? like pinched rails?

Heres pics of my Gene Cooper “Hornet” with very, very, thick, pinched rails from nose to tail. Its made to ride large STEEP waves. Noserides on steep,fast waves with ease. Cooperfish logo is gone…but changed over to cooperdesigns. I think someone else is shaping for Gene.

Yup… I meant pinched. Apologies to “werpat” I just realized this thread was about hard rails.

At any rate, this Atlas Woods board is super pinched and I recall it being equally convex on the top and bottom. I’m curious about the safety factor, there are many a times I hit my head on the rails.

Yes - I can pretty much shave with mine…I started using hard rails all the way about 2 years ago after reading Bert’s take on them…thought it would be an interesting experiment…

My findings:

They feel different - you surf higher…feel skaty but solid…some people say they catch…well in my experience they don’t…you definitely (well maybe - I haven’t done a controlled experiment) get more speed.

I LIKE them alot… they seem to suit me ( I’m a big guy 225 lbs 6 2 ) and it feels like I plane just a little bit earlier on them…

Downsides? well in choppy days (heavy offshores) they seem a little harsh - like driving with hard suspension … in clean conditions… chatter chatter chatter…I think they’re better…

interested in your findings

way way back in time, g & s made a board with thick rails …i mean nearly as thick at the rail as in the center of the board…and with hard down rails all the way. called it the water ski or waterskate or something like that. this was in the eary 70’s. is that what you mean?

Interesting thing everybody says…they surf great in clean conditions! A garage door will surf great in clean conditions. Ahhh, we all wish for that 5ft glassy wave on a warm summer afternoon. It’s those bumpy marginal days were worried about.

My experience with a tucked hard edge all the way around the board (tucked meaning 60/40, the radius of a quarter on the tuck) is that if your flying down the line and want to release into a full rail bury cut back, its a dream. If you don’t carry your speed, or the wave is a mushy, that hard edge up front will catch 1/3rd to 1/2 way through the turn and eject yo ass. They tend to work on smaller boards, something you can completely manhandle and power through sections and screw ups. But i wouldn’t advise it on a larger board i.e. Guns and Long boards…Last thing you need is digging a rail comming off the bottom or top on a bigger wave. And usually large wave come with some form of adverse conditions, ie windy onshore or offshore

But then again…they will work dreamy on a perfect, slightly off shore, clean, warm water, kelp free, 4:45 pm, lo to hi tide pushing, August, 12 ft face wave. But then again, so does a boogie board!

-My 10 cents Jay

I suspect most of you are missing the point.

Talking shortboards here, not logs or tankers, or full guns.

And read my post again, as I underlined the compensations you have to shape in to make THICK turned down hard rails all around the board to work.

Thick, as in flat decks and barely V’d tail bottoms, with flat nose to Wpoint.

And I wasn’t the only shaper back then who made lots of boards with thick rails, turned down hard 360 degrees.

Some guys did it on 7’6" x 20 semi guns, and they worked well.

Just gotta understand, when you go extreme in one direction one aspect, you gotta compensate on the others to make things work.

EVERYTHING works, with a good shaper and designer…and an OK pilot.

Make em hard if you like. try it. flat bottom… er… the greater of two evils I’d say (much greater). Need a good curve… or at least a curve that you’re anticipating the behaviour of… rocker that is. As for the bottom, there are several forces at work and play here, if you don’t plan and/or attempt to complement or channel these forces (at least one, say, moving water) via bottom contours my guess is that you’ll end up regretting a truly flat bottom. But that is what it is… a guess.

I’ve made several fairly hard railed boards both by intent and accident (usually not realising how hard until I paddled it out)… They work good, less forgiving as a whole I’d say but if you steer good and can compensate for those areas where a ‘softer’ rail is the more natural, complement to nature’s beast then you’re all set.