Longboard Tail

I’ve been reading here that the last 16" or so of a board is the most important part of a shape. That said, I’m looking for advice on what to look for in a tail for a versatile, everyday longboard used in the Pacific Northwest; tiny to little overhead beach break, steep drops, mushy flats, sectiony, etc. What tail shape, width, rocker, fin config, rail hardness, concaves, vees, etc?

I’m going to order a 9’ to 9’6" board next week and I want to be a bit more informed before I go. I’m hoping this board can handle whatever comes are way up here; the foundation of my quiver. Thanks for the help.


Hey Surffish,

The best advice I can give you is to pick out a shaper whose work you fancy and ask him all these questions.

Mahalo, Rich

That’s the plan. I was hoping to get some input here so that I can talk shop a little better with him and narrow in what I’m looking for. This will be the first time I’ve had a board shaped for me so I have not worked with this guy before or vis versa. Hopefully, if I come in as knowledgable as possible, I can communicate what I want, evaluate what he suggets and get a board close to what I need on the first try.

So, any suggestions?


Every surfer surfs completely differently, and every surfer surfs a little differently than every other.

That said, it’s personal preference.

Some guys like pintail, some square, some swallow, just for preference.

Some guys like lots of V, some don’t.

Some guys like rail rocker, some want extreme, some like it flatter and faster.

Some guys like rail roll, other’s hard and edgy, while other’s like a blending of it.


surffish – where are you located?

A local shaper is always a good place to start.

I’m in Washington State. Most of my surfing is in Washington or Oregon. Waves are like I described earlier.

There is a shaper in Oregon that I hear good things about. Cort Gion. I have called him and I liked what he had to say over the phone but we did not talk long. I’m going to drive down next week and take a look at his boards and talk about this board with him. I was hoping by posting here, I could get some background info on what people like in this situation. I realize that much of it is subjective and personal opinion but that is what I was looking for; personal opinion on what works best for a versatile beach break longboard.

I have completely revamped my quiver this year because I had one 10ft noserider that was a bitch to ride for my size and our conditions. It is made for clean, good sized Cali point surf and we don’t have that. It is pretty though and I was seduced when I bought it. I don’t what to make a mistake like that again. So I sold that, and now want to replace it with something more suitable. I also got a 6’9" and 8ft recently so this is the last piece of the quiver puzzle for awhile. I bought the shorter boards with research and advise from this website and I could not be happier with the boards. So, I came back to the source.


Pin tail = looser, less drive, tougher to catch waves.

Square tail = tighter, more drive, easier to catch waves

Rounded pin = sorta combine the two.

Wider tail = easier wave cathing, slower turning

Narrrower tail = quicker turning, slower wave catching.

Vee = looser feel, less wave cathing ability

Lot’s a rocker = much looser turning, harder to catch waves.

Not so much rocker = better wave catcher, tighter turning.

Those are just somewhat general rules of thumb. No one seemed to be answering so there you are. Now here;s the fun part… take all that crap and figure out how to dial in your tail for your conditions. You can overcome, to a degree, the negative aspects of one tail by combining it with the characterisitics of another.

There is no one design. It’s how you combine al the above into what works for you and the waves you will be riding.

Steep beachbreak, I’d go with a narrower rounded pin, with moderate rocker and a little vee.


That is a tough one. Like LeeDD said everyone like different stuff, but here are some general guidlines. For steep drops a narrower tail is better and some extra rocker. Mushy sectiony waves a wider tail is better with less rocker. As for bottom shape a little concave thru the fin is what most people like, I like a little “V” right off the tail.

What do you like about the other boards you have? And what did you dislike about the longboard you got rid of?

My old board was:

Too long (10ft) for my weight (165lb)


Too stiff to turn

Too narrow of a tail (14"). Good in bigger waves but tippy in small stuff

Too little rocker. Stiff turning and pearling.

Favorite longboard before it broke was:


More rocker

Round tail with more width (14.5")

More rocker throughout board.

Very light

Versatile. Like small as well as bigger waves. Carvy board but could still noseride a bit.

I would probably get something inbetween these two. I have covered high performance stuff with smaller boards so getting a copy of the 9footer is not what I want. 9’2"-9’4" maybe. Wider nose and a bit more weight for small, mushy nose riding stuff and chop. I want a mid range rocker to turn but also hold speed in small, flat stuff. The back end setup to carve. I’m looking for a tail setup that can handle later drops and turn sharp. It is this part of the board that I am still trying to visualize.

Any advice? Any brand name boards that I should model it after?


You’d be hard pressed to find a better shaper than Cort Gion. He was a core North Shore shaper for like 20 years before moving up to the NW. Cort was cool enough to let me watch him shape a few boards when I was starting out. I thought it was a funny coincidence that he lived in the same house that was used to house the character, guru shaper Kramer in the movie “North Shore”, fronting Leftovers. He probably doesnt remember me, but if you do see him tell him Derek said howzit (I used to give him respirators).

Totally agree with foamdust. I have never heard anyone say they got a bad Gion shape. His graphics are better and better and I understand he runs a tight ship. I havn’t been able to afford a custom lately but when I do Cort will build it. It helps when the shaper is one of the best surfers in the state. Mike Tuel is good as well.

Good luck Surffish, too bad the surf up here sucks so bad right now.

Oh, and as far as the tail goes, tell him how you want to surf and stand back. I have been riding a diamond tail lately that seems to work everywhere.

To add to what drew wrote keep in mind that fins can be used to modify the charachteristics of the botom shapes to get what you want.

Good to hear the word on Cort Gion’s boards. I, too, have not heard a single bad word. Short, long, or gun.

Thanks for the input. I’m trying to learn a bit more so I can talk intelligently about this stuff when I’m there. I could go in a say I want a beach break longboard and stand back. I’m sure the board would be great but what fun is that. I’d rather have a conversation with the guy, learn something and understand the board that is under my feet. As you all seem to know, board design is pretty facinating stuff. Right up there with surfing itself.


I’m on the bandwagon for pro GortGions.

A fellow competitor from the late '60’s, always seeking flow and style.

I had some quivers of his boards for Island surfing in the mid '70’s thru the early '80’s …all worked really well.