# Rails: What does soft and box mean?

Someone out there please help me. I’m shaping my first shortboard and am stuck on the rails. Can anyone tell me what the terms: soft, tucked-in, 50/50, and box mean? I’m on the Gulf coast and was told the best rail design for our waves are soft near the nose and boxier near the tail. I have no farkin clue what this means. Help?

Actually, the exact quote I got from a local shaper was, “Soft in the nose and blend into a hard edge becoming more boxy through the tail.” I don’t get it.

There are many types of rail designs such as 50/50, 60/40 70/30. A soft rail would be round, more like the ends of an egg, where the curve is equal 50/50. Boxy would be a harder edge 70/30, or 80/20, closer to 90 degrees but still round. Picture the top and side of a box, but with a rounded edge.

All of these terms refer to the shape of the rail in cross-section (as if you cut the board in half from rail to rail). Boxy means that the rail looks pretty much like the edge of a box. Start lopping off the corners and it starts to look round (now its a round rail). 50/50 means you lopped of the same amount from the top and bottom. 60/40 means you cut 60 percent off the top. That moves the apex toward the bottom and becomes a “down rail”. A pinched rail means you started lopping closer to the stringer, pinching the rail rather than rounding it. Soft or hard refers to the bottom portion of the rail; if the edge is sharp it is “hard”. If it is dull then it is “soft”. A tucked edge is a sharp transition between the lower curve of the rail and the flat bottom. The edge is 1/2 to 1 inch stringerward from the apex of the rail. Go to the Resouce section and look up some of the design website links. Most of them will show you pictures of what these sections look like.

Bilbo, I can understand a little of your confusion. The quote you made is from the “Seek” website. I think it is technically misleading. Most boards in general as well as Gulf Coast boards have a bit harder nose blending into somewhat fuller & softer mid rails with a tucked edge flowing into a hard edge in the tail section to release cleanly. The hard edge starts about 20" from the tail. The softer the rail is in the tail the more drag will be created as the water flows up and over the rail. This also provides some stability. Longboards use the softer tail rail to hold them in during noseriding. Go to some shops and look at quite a few boards. Check out the transitions and you will get a good feel for what is going on there. I have been putting a little more thickness in the tail area to provide some flotation. This gets into foiling, an area I am looking closely at to help out some of the older guys! (Like me) The link that “Me” provided is a good starting point. Front coming tonight …might be some decent surf tomorrow for awhile!MLC

Thanks fellas. You’ve all been very helpful. Krokas- do you post on Gulfsurfer under a different handle? Who are you?

NOPE! Don’t post on Gulfsurfer. I put some info in the profile …check it out. I am having a lot of interest in boards. I will be very busy come spring…MLC

There is a link to the new Stuart Surfboard site on the home page of Swaylock’s. Under “Shaping Bay Tips” he shows what the different rail types (and bottoms, tail outlines, etc.) are about. The high or “boxy” rails are shown. http://www.stuartsurf.com.au/index.cfm?page=shapingbay