Knee paddling: optimal thickness/length???

Curious to know what’s the optimal board thickness/length ratio to be able to knee paddle a board? I know back in the late 60’s/early 70’s, as boards began to drop in length many of the shapers were crafting these wide tailed, vee bottomed boards (Bing, Jacobs, McTavish, Greg Noll) in the 8 foot range. Many of them even had an extra layer of glass on the deck (well, a knee patch), and I’ve seen footage of guys knee paddling them.

I realize that obviously the rider’s size and weight would make a difference, so let’s just say for the sake of discussion what would be adequate for a surfer of average height (about 5’10") and weight (155-160lbs.)? Thickness? Width? Length? Is there any kind of formula for this? Thanks in advance…

I’m exactly your height, and weight when I’m ready to surf.

I can kneepaddle any surfboard, even sinky 6’3"ers…not worth bothering, of course.

A 7’9" x 22 x 2.5/8th thick is easy to kneepaddle, but still inefficient.

A 9’ x 23 x 2.80" thick log kneepaddle super easy, but not all that fast.

My old 9’6" x 22.25" x 2.65" thick tri actually had balanced kneepaddling and good glide, with enough kneepaddling speed to catch any catchable wave.

Wider is not necessarily better, as it drags more, and tends to come with shorter boards, which don’t glide between strokes.

If I could ask you a question LeeDD, do you think that a 8’ board could be knee paddled with any amount of efficiency? Does it need to be over 3" thick and 23" wide? The reason I ask is, I’m mainly a knee paddler, rarely prone paddling unless it’s right before I get into a wave. I admit, knee paddling a 7’ board can be done, but obviously to little effect. I’m looking to go shorter than my current quiver of 9’2, 9’4" and 9’6" boards, but still would like to have the benefit of this paddling style. Thanks!

Hi Zed

If you make it wide enough, with a decent amount of foam, you can knee paddle it easily, be very stable, but get little glide due to short length. Constant repetitive strokes while kneepaddling is tiring and lots of work. Length seems to give glide.

I’ve knee paddled my 9’ x 26" wide windsurf boards, while being super easy, is kinda slow.

I’ve knee paddled my 8’7" x 38" wide windsurf boards, it’s possible to stand up on it no problem, but knee paddles slow.

If you don’t mind the slow speed, you can kneepaddle a wider, shorter board all day.

For your weight, I recommend at least 9’6" and 3 1/2" thick for efficient speed. Any knee paddled board needs a deck patch in the middle, and also a pad or traction patch if you want it to last (just my opinion). I also think that there’s no happy medium between a good handling board and one that knee paddles well; you can have one or the other (unless you’re under 100 lbs).

the true threshold yard stick move for an efficient is planeing to access the kneel paddle out entry for me at 129lbs was 9’4’’ yater I sold to eddie conroy in 1968 the 7’1’ same year was only kneel paddlable with finger stall paddle gloves I agree about the 9’6 dimension…ambrose…

Didn’t TR win the Pedro Pt. Contest in '67 riding a yellow 8’6" Ramsey J, and he kneepaddled back out after catching each wave.

If memory still works, he also caught two waves per heat kneepaddling. Of course, S corner Pedro is mush land and rolling nothings.

it was not 8’6’’ it was over 9’… 67 perhaps 9’8’’ pre savage model under 9’ didnt happen umtil may-june 1968 …at the smallest 9’2’‘’… ross had a conservative scot facet to his approach he was second wave maddness …ambrose…actually its Kneel paddling

interesting point Ambrose. I’ve never seen anybody paddle with their knees. You’d have to be Lt. Dan or similar…


August ‘66 I buy my 10’ Oneill Intruder. It could have been '67, but I don’t think so, Endless Summer came out two weeks later.

July '67 I bought NelsonChen’s 7’6" Aussie V bottom…but it could have been '68.

Spring '68 I make #1. Pretty sure on that.

By Fall '69, I had made over 12 boards.

I dunno, that was just too long ago to remember.

TRoss for sure told me his Ramsey J was 8’6". The one he won the contest with.

Oh well, I’ll see him windsurfing in the next couple of months, and ask again.

So what the heck year DID Endless Summer come out?

I’m watching OLN channel right now, and film from '63 was used. So it must have come out in late '64 or mid '65.

But I’m up here from San Francisco, and seems I was a junior in high school, working the pools in Berkeley, my second year there, with Helen Bolinger my g/f.

I can’t remember, or recall.

From…the land of the braindead…

Sorry guys.

TV just said it came out in '66, so my timetable is close to reality.

Now I gotta ask Tommy Ross exactly what length his Ramsey J was and was it really 18 lbs., which is what I recall he told me.

And also what the heck year he won the Open Class at Pedro Pt.

I’d swear it was Spring '67, but that was a lotta glue and resin ingested ago.