S deck on hulls

I’ve been intersested in hulls and was curious what the “s” deck was for.

Do you stand on the elevated hump for optimal position? I love the ride from

this type of bottom but we don’t see many here in Florida.I like the speed off

the rolled v on my last 9’7 I shaped and can’t wait to try a smaller version.

Looks complicated though.

Given length and rocker curve, thin nose, less swing weight.

Thin nose, you lose foam, so add it where you stand most often, somewhere behind center…get more foam and thickness, thus S deck.

You can kill the S by making the tail super thick, but most surfers won’t buy that idea…

my understanding [limited] is that it was about having a bit of thickness in the tail, while allowing the nose to be thin and lighter [less swing weight so it will pivot off the lip easier perhaps ?]

I’m still trying to suss mine out, in terms of where to stand…

Matt, Kirk ? others ?

I’d be keen to hear your findings !

thanks !


p.s. - I wouldn’t mind having a go at making myself a smaller version of the one we got from the dump …this one we found is 6’9

[ hmmmm… I can’t find the profile shot at the moment, sorry…I’ll do a ‘hull’ / ‘s-deck’ search, though…might be able to ‘resurrect’ it that way !]

Thanks LeeDD,Chippy.Makes sense to reduce swing weight.I guess you can kill two birds

with one stone by putting the thickness where you need it for the mid-board positioning

of the rider and keep a narrow nose and tail.I had a thin “high performance” longboard

that had more volume under the feet like LeeDD says and it went great.

thank you, swaylocks search ‘mechanism’ !! …

not a really good shot [it would have been better from the tail looking down], but… hopefully , for people who have not seen one, it gives a bit of an idea of an ‘s-deck’…

The greenough article in Australian Surfers Journal also showed one.

Just curious… are hull bottoms still shaped in America with an s-deck , then ? [I don’t know WHO makes them in Australia…if at all ? … Pandanus ? Anyone ? ]

I assumed the ‘s-deck’ was around the “transition period” [ from mals to shortboards] , and then slowly, as boards went thinner, the ‘s’ disappeared ?

I think ‘Morning Of The Earth’ may still have a remnant s-deck or two in the footage there somewhere , perhaps ?

‘Evolution’ and ‘Sea Of Joy’ certainly did…the footage of Wayne Lynch ripping that left [in ? Mauritius, I think it was ?] is probably the best stuff I’ve seen of those boards in action. Worth a look, to check out foot placement, trimming, getting tubed, and off the lips [!!] on the things… that footage was from around 1971, from memory ]


Hi, Chipfish,

I posted this shot in another thread about old Con Surfboards. But I think it can help here, too. Just look at those profiles:

On a much more personnal note, here are two shots of a unique board that I have been keeping in my workshop since the early 70’s. It was custom shaped by Mike DIFFENDERFER for François LARTIGAU who was the current French champion then. The story being that Mike shaped and glassed it in a friend’s garden in Biarritz. As he was about to glass the deck, François found a peacock’s feather lying around somewhere and they decided to have it inlaid under the glass. A few years later, my best friend bought that board (third hand) and it’s been in the shop ever since. Too bad the tail has been cut-off into a square: it used to be a rounded pin. And the board has seen some HEAVY use, especially on a certain 1973 september day when my friend and I nearly got killed by a huge Guéthary swell…

Is it just me, or do YOU reckon they look hideous, too , Balsa ?!

[…are they the con ‘ugly’ board ?]

…MINE looks awful too, I reckon.

I’ll never forget what my mate Brad said as he gave me the ‘Wilderness’…

“check how WARPED this thing is ! …I think it’s been left in the sun for thirty years ! We were going to leave it at the dump, but John remembered you talking about George Greenough, so…if you want it, it’s yours !”

Thanks Brad ! [he knew I would try to ride it.]


p.s. - Brad was probably right, too…it sure is brown and water damaged. I’m just amazed the original fin was still on it, along with a surfcraft permit sticker from waverley council from 1972/3 !!


Is it just me, or do YOU reckon they look hideous, too , Balsa ?!

[…are they the con ‘ugly’ board ?]

Well, you know, what looks hideous at first sight you easily become used to very quickly. Remember those S-decks were the latest “hype” at the time. The foil thing came in some time after and everything changed all over again. But for a while, we were all making S-decks. Bob COOPER was shaping those at BARLAND’s all summer, everybody had to ride a BARLAND/Bob COOPER S-deck.

Do you remember the first time you saw a fish tail? Weren’t you in shock? I was, for sure. (David NUUHIWA’s) The years have passed, now fishes don’t even raise an eyebrow…

S-decks don’t look hideous. Nothing that is the expression of someone else’s mind does. You just have to try and understand the idea lying behind. Just like painting. I could say that Picasso looks hideous to me. It would just mean that I didn’t bother to search beyond the facade.

The boards in the ad are not “ugly”. The “ugly” and “super-ugly” by Con were ultra-wide nosed longboards or shortened versions of the same. Quite “ugly” in fact… But… well, see above…

I think S decks are great foils.I wish Clark foam would come out with some blanks with that curve in the deck.About the only way to get the curve in a modern blank is to use one way oversize and then you end up overshaping the deck.When I worked with Jim Phillips in 1968 he had a deck profile machine that routed the S into the deck.We were using old style regular weight foam out of thick blanks so overshaping was no big deal.Later on when I started my own shop I did the S curve by hand.I would plane crosswise to get the profile.Seems like nowadays when you plane crosswise you tear up the stringers.I think it’s because of the lighter foam.A grit drum seems to work OK.I kind of think that S decks are gaining ground again.Back in the late sixties designs were changing at a rapid pace (weekly)and some of the better ideas got left behind before really proving themselves.Fish shapes are a perfect example of an old design coming back and being refined.I wish I could find someone with a shaping machine that would mill the deck profile.Any of you computer guys interested?? RB

Check out Spence Custom Surfboards.com. Spence has a slide show of an s-deck hull being shaped (deck and bottom).

Didn’t most of us old grumpy farts who are waaaay too serious shape bunches of S decked hi performance single fins and twins from '68 to '72?

The advent of thick turned down rails curtailed the hull shapes by ‘69, and the idea of shortening the boards further, to under 6’, stopped the developement of the S in the deck.

Like hemlines, every 8 years or so we reinvent the past and some new designer makes it seem like the latest and greatest.

I kinda doubt an s-deck is going to make a big comeback on modern high-performance boards. The pulled in noses have the same affect on swing weight and the thick rails that work best with the thruster make the whole domed deck thing useless. It might be interesting to put one on a fish though…

for more info check liddlesurfboards.com.