Overheard 2 of my surfing friends talking the other day...

Friend 1: “I love pintails because they are so fast!”

Friend 2: “Yep, pintails are the fastest.”

These guys have been surfing for 40ish years each.


Hi Chris -

Not to dismiss your friend’s opinions… everybody has one, right?

For the sake of discussion… I’ve found that the last few inches of the tail are the least important area in an overall design.  All marketing hype aside, I find it hard to believe that Average Joe surfer could even tell the difference between a roundtail, a pintail, or a square/diamond/squashtail - all else being equal.  

Even if they could tell the difference, with some relatively minor fin tweaks they could have the same basic ride going on.


IMHO, the pintail, because of less tail area, makes you stand more forward, in the flatter rocker, with the fins in a more stable area further behind your back foot.  This makes you plane better, and go faster.  And with the added release off the pin, yup it all adds to speed .

Tell me this board

doesn’t just look fast,

it should come with a speeding ticket!

Thanks Barry S.!

No doubt they look fast but I’ve always heard that pintailed guns were designed to be able to sink the tail - for control when the wave is already giving you all the speed you need.  A wide flat tail almost seems to generate speed but will start to skate like a stone when the waves are too powerful.

“added release off the pin”… please explain?  

It’s an admittedly old book but in ‘The Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls’, Lindsey Lord describes in scientific terms the effects of various types of outlines and hulls.  Those theories were used in surfboard design by Robert Simmons and later by guys like Richard Kenvin, Joe Bauguess, and others in Simmons knock-off designs.  There are lots of internet videos where wide tailed boards are being ridden… and very fast.

A question I’d like to throw in to the equation is:  Is it the board, the rider, the wave, or all three when it comes to speed?

It’s the color - red is fastest!

They are not completely wrong, at least not for windsurfing.

Formula and slalom boards use cut-outs to reduce the wetted area to achieve higher end speeds.


And the fastest windsurfer on earth uses a very narrow board to achieve his 52.05knts (= 96.4km/h = 59.9mph)

And if I’m not mistaken that board has a** pin tail**!


Following what we call in belgium “farmers logic”, proof is given that pintails are faster!

It’s my understanding that the pintail shape has more to do with limiting the leverage of the water in the back away from the center stringer that would tend to want to lift the the waveside of the board which would make it more difficult to keep the rail engaged a steeper face.

The same reason the overall narrow gunshape is preferred on bigger waves, the pintail is a logical termination of that shape.

But I could see that the way the pintail induces the water to flow back together smoothly (like the back of a canoe) could be more efficient than an abrupt square tailshape.

Though in many applications the additional length that it would require to form the pintail shape is more of a burden than a benefit.

I think a lot could be learned by observing the shape the displaced water naturally takes as it flows back together on it’s own off the back of a board at a given speed.



Sorry, guys, but pintails are not fast by essence. They are just best fit to powerful/fast waves because their lack of surface area makes them CONTROLLABLE at high speeds. But the speed is already there; try to CREATE speed with a pintailed board (I mean a REAL pintail, like the one pictured above, not talking about a wide rounded pintail here) out of a mushy/slow/small wave as opposed to doing the same with a wide square-tail (maximum surface area). Now, try to ride Jaws at 30 feet with a 5’4" wide square-tail. The board will go fast all right (providing a jet tows you into the wave, I doubt anyone can PADDLE such a board into a 30’ wave), but, just like John said, it will leave the water and go ricocheting over the surface and you will never be able to hit a bottom turn.

All else being egual----I am with what John said. What is FAST anyway? A guy tried to tell me he wants a 5’4" board becuase he wants to go fast. I told him the FASTEST board I have ever ridden is the 13’ er I have in my yard somewhere. NOBODY could catch me when I got that train going. That one is a pintail so maybe…

These guys were talking guns.

The way I understand it, pintails are for control in big waves.

Bleeding speed rather than enabling it.

I believe most people here already agreed on this. I might be wrong, but a lot of post sounded very sarcastic to me :wink:

(including mine)

"Following what we call in belgium "farmers logic", proof is given that pintails are faster!"
Big sail lots of wind go fast same board little sail no wind go?
Sometimes my "OB logic" does not see the crossover. Not trying to create an argument just two different beast sailboards surfboards. Sailboards are faster that is a fact surfboards are slower. Surfboards are a strange mix of trying to generate speed thru gravity and resistance, wave fin hull shape + rider experince. Sailboards have a proplusion device. Now I have done it...

Ace, you might have missed Hans saying this:

I believe most people here already agreed on this. I might be wrong, but a lot of post sounded very sarcastic to me :wink:

(including mine)

Being dsylexic I do miss alot. It is just the pintail sguare tail swallow tail argument is brought  up almost  every custom board. I have spent hours discussing this with customers. I have been given the opportunity to make the same board with only the last couple inches being different to accommodate the slight tail differences. Cold not tell a difference. BUT the same outline with different rockers produced noticible differences…

Spot on!

I can recall a few things from surfings past that may help here.

Blake did have a “split tail” or shallow tail gunny looking board in the beach boy era

A Malibu contingency travelled to Makaha in

 the Simmons era.

And I believe Rabbit observed the wide tailed Simmons”Malibu Chip” boards basically hopping and bobbing almost out of control (too fast).

For me I found Mr. Kekai’s comments on Matt Kivlin and Joe Quigg’s streamlined boards a vision of things to come

As well, I believe the first “attack” of Waimea was on hotdog boards and after a mauling, a few went home and thought it out, Pat Curren in particular.

Older guys should already know this

Sheading energy and control.

We still seek it.

Eh, they just so happen to look fast!

Fastest thing under my feet was a zap type design…and there’s no pintail in sight…but not in big waves.

as some favorite people are here,

I must strike the chime

log in comment in the design sphere

I am currently inclined

to make a pintail with h-depot

closet shelf laminate

it will be quite fast

the quest for lightspeed

creeps closer to our world view.

it will be part of a princeville

towel and bathing suit

drying rack,seven tribute templates

with two 7’stand up paddles.

the lengths an elderly leo 

will go to to pay for titanium

implants to secure front teeth.

highest greetings to los osos,

O.B. ,and balsa land - geuthary

wife’s in paris and I am making

a surfboard towel rack for a

lady from san francisco ‘condo’

the 21st century,   ci bon


god bless the kooks.

yes the pintail will be the fastest

1’’ red cedar center stringer

1x6 pine panels

with paduk rails

width yet to be cut and laminated

perhaps an inch and a quarter.

three cheers to gettin’




yup I have heard the pintails fast thing too… less area more control at high speed is what Ithink…also funny when guys talk hard sharp edges holding a board in the wave…if you want it to really hold in,  a soft round shape will hold in more,maybe to the point of being  dead and uncontrolable…all about balance.in design,another one i found out last year while living in bali was not having huge fins on my boards for bigger waves…your going that fast i feel they could even  use  smaller  fins on my  semi gun than my short boards and still hold in… actuallly got the grinder out and removed about 3/4 of an inch off all the fins on an old fixed fin board i had made years ago…,was like taking the hand break off…surfed it at padang padang so much faster and  responsive

Your are right!

What we call “farmers logic” is taking to simple conclusion to fast. So I wasn’t trying to prove that pintails are faster, it’s just a too simple statement.

I think my post was too implicit :wink: