increase tail rocker to help prevent pearling in bigger waves?

Howzit Chris,

I’ve been thinking about this a lot too. In part because I saw Mark Healey talk about how his big-wave boards are getting flatter, shorter and wider. And in part because the fall is here with waves, and the fish is going into the rafters.

Anyway I think that tail rocker and tail shape are hard to distinguish in drops–that is, I don’t know in particulars why my fish hangs up on steeper waves: is it 16 inches of tail or is it a flattened rocker? It’s both. What’s the happy medium there? Vee can help but this is one of those perennial design compromises I think: Flatter/narrower vs. rockered/wider.

We’ve been having some nice surf here and I took out my 6’9’’ semi gun last week on one of the bigger days. I had this board shaped to match the rocker of one of my favorite boards, which was shaped for Puerto Rico by Patty Mulhern. Anyway the amount of rocker sometimes shocks people. I’ve never pearled on it and it paddles like a mother. Do I know why this is? No! Volume, outline, foil, etc. All that magic stuff! In short, the reasons that Mulhern is the professional and I’m the afficionado.

The other thing you can experiment with is how far forward you lay on a bigger wave board as you paddle. Part of the challenge for the surfer is to balance on the fulcrum that is the rocker appex such that the board conforms to the curve of the drop. You can do this by weighting forward in paddling or back; but if back, you will need more tail rocker in a bowling wave. And if you make that drop, you better be careful that the nose doesn’t shoot right back at you when it hits the trough.

I wish you waves to experiment on! Thanks for the Big Sur photos.

Peace, C




Somewhere on Swaylocks (i think) i read that increasing the Vee in the tail can have the same effect as increasing rocker but i guess this only works if you get straight on a rail. It must be the opposite of the concave theory - concave flattens the stringerline of the board whilst maintaining the rail line rocker. By putting more agressive Vee in the tail, the stringerline rocker remains the same but the rail rocker increases. Seems to have worked on a board i made last year but not really had the opportunity to put it to the test much, it think the quad setup also helps with those angled take-offs (i read that somewhere to!)

Good luck

I didn't read all the responses so forgive me if I reapeat or contradict anyone.

First tail rocker will be largely determined by tail width and how big or how hollow the actual wave is you're designing for.  It really comes down to control. 2 1\2 in the tail would be a MINIMUM in any of my boards for hollow surf. I'm using a total dimension for nose and tail rocker. It's all about balancing out all the variables.



In a previous thread about gerry lopez and MR's pipe guns, Bill Barnfield said that they were riding 8'0's with 5.5" nose rocker, and 2" tail rocker.

If pipe can be surfed with rocker that low, then I'm sure that 2.5" is not a minimum. After all, its pretty dang hollow.

those boards were completely different than modern designs. Those tails were very narrow and spikey.


those boards were completely different than modern designs. Those tails were very narrow and spikey.


Those boards ARE modern designs.

Boards from the 1970's aren't modern to me

Depends on who's boards you are looking at.    I'll grant you that there were plenty of boards from that era, that were ill designed, and executed.

lockedin - I have a ques. for you: I recently had that Walden Magic (your old board) out in some overhead surf in S.L.O. (on an anniversary trip) where the waves break steep and ledgy - and it kept pearling, sometimes even before I could get in or make the drop, the nose would go under and I'd miss the wave.  On others I'd make the drop, but just pearl big time at the bottom.  I know the board is new to me, and in fact I'm still real new to longboarding, but I havent had pearling problems since coming back to surfing a year ago.  What was I doing wrong - just need to get way back on steep drops?  Guess I just need to get the board figured out in different conditions.  Haven't had any problems like that in the smaller L.A. surf I've been riding it in.

It isn't just a matter of adding tail rocker it is more a matter of the where the apex of the curve begins and the flow of the intersecting curves. 

Yes Many bad ones for sure. My shaping room was at my house at Backdoor for that whole period so I got to see pretty much every board that was put in the water. Shaun's Pipe board got everyone thinking about more rocker.

Yes Many bad ones for sure. My shaping room was at my house at Backdoor for that whole period so I got to see pretty much every board that was put in the water. Shaun's Pipe board got everyone thinking about more rocker.


My shaping room was at my house at Backdoor for that whole period...


You must have been a near neighbor of Tex Wilson.   Did you know him?    He was a photogrpher.

Hey Bill,

I knew who he was but didn't hang out with him.

Aloha Tommy, did you know Susan Allen from D’Amico’s? Is she still in your neighborhood?


Aloha Tommy, did you know Susan Allen from D'Amico's? Is she still in your neighborhood?



Hey T blank,

I left The North Shore when I lost house to large surf in 1983 so I'm not sure about Sue. If she was there before that timeframe I probably knew her, it's just been a long time.

Hi Tommy, Thanks for the reply. Sorry to hear about the house. THAT was one HELL of a winter! El Nino. Sue was there and shortly after bought and ran D’Amico’s for a while. She lived near Rarrick. I was across and down the road behind Diffenderfer’s, next to Squiddy.

    Howzit Bill, Just when in the 70's are you talking about. I was on the North Shore from 70' to 73' then I moved to Kauai and if we are talking about the same Tex Wilson, he was on Kauai by then. I used to glass my own boards at the White house which I think was the second house from the end of the road. Trying to remember the names of the guys who lived there and Eddie Abubo is one and I think rich Garrison was another but I can't remember any more names. Did you know John Belchez who lived at Sunset pint under the Kamani tree, just hear he has a malignant cancer tumor at the base of his skull and things are not looking to good. Aloha,Kokua

Yep, same Tex.    I just wasn't sure when he moved.   I saw him on a regular basis through the late '60's.    At one point in the late 60's, Tex had back to back covers on Surfer Mag.    He was a talented photographer, as well as a really nice person. 

edit:  As a point of interest, my avatar is a Tex Wilson photo. (circa 1968)     

Both of you have a valid point the way the surfing is being done on more contemporary board is different from the way they were surfing on the 8’0", and rocker is the key. There are still guys out riding 8’0"s(similar to the single fins of yesteryear, but adapted for the new fin configuration) and guys on the same day riding  6’9"(a certain alien has been seen riding the place on a 5’11"). The guys on the longer boards get in early set their line and let the wave swallow them( ).The guy on the shortboard paddles his ass off getting over the ledge, muscles through the drop, and weaves through the barrel( ). Both techniques work, just depends on personal preference. I would put money down though that there is more rocker proportionally in the shorter board.