SHAPER's HOT SEAT: George Gall

A couple of rules and courtesies:

  1.  The questions are for George.  Let him answer.

  2.  He is a member of Swaylocks, but in this capacity he is our guest.  Mind your manners.

Here are a few things about George that you may not know:   Owner and CEO of Plus One Surfboards, Inc. Third-generation board-builder, Shaping since the mid-70’s, low volume for nearly 20 years (6,500 boards approx) before going full time, Mechanical Engineer (worked in the U.S. Space Program) , Taught High School Math, Physics and Computer Science in a "challenged " area of Southeast San Diego,   Builder and proponent of CNC tech as a virtual planer (all custom boards, no duplication of designs), Does CNC consulting for others.

I’ve got a bunch of questions, but I let others go first.


Or maybe I won’t.

George, what are you riding now as your personal go-to board?  

So this thread is about Q&A, right?  

I know GG has done a lot of R&D in various forms of technical construction techniques, so I guess my first question it this:


“If cost / time / effort were not a consideration, what form of construction and glassing layup would you favor for a personal board, and why?”

Hey George, my asymmetricly minded friend.

Can you answer the ongoing question of “What makes a surfboard go”?

I just shake my head on that thread.

Looking forward to your insight.


Could you tell us what you think about flex in surfboards.  How does it affect performance?  How  would full length-board flex (lateral) affect performance? How would performance be affected with tail flex only? Lateral vs. torsional tail flex, or both?  How would you incorporate flex into a build?

You made this comment about flex awhile back.  Could you elaborate/explain in a little more detail?

I recognize these these are broad and sweeping questions.

Thanks for your consideration.

I’d like to know what is happening with the assym boards george was working on a few years ago. If I were buy a new board, I think I’d look at one of those between 5’8" and 6’4".

we are assuming george still posts here …


I’m glad he is on facebook , as his boards and work shine THERE


My last surf session was on a 5’8"x20-3/8"x2-7/16" twin keeled fish.  Been messing with them lately.


Just the brief version:  already doing boards with off-axis lay-ups and super flexy foam with awesome results in performance shortboards.  All hand built.  Ok, that’s already been done, and I’ve taken it to more versions and have not plateaued yet (the limiting factor is time.)

IF I could dream, I would explore two strands of surfboard research and bring them together.  First would be more detailed FEA using programs similar to what the America’s Cup designers have been using.  I would push the Finite Element Analysis further, not just modelling the structure/mass of the board but ALSO the wave.  Unlike flat water’s “bobbing water” and wind gusts sailing vessels deal with, waves are VERY challenging to model on the computer.  This is because the face of the wave is curved, dynamic AND accelerating.  As a visual tool look at some ping pong balls floating in a perfect grid on the water, 1 foot apart.  As the wave approaches, peaks up and crests, the spacing of the ping pong balls accelerate away from one-another. This has not been explicitly tapped into by current board designs, at least not intentionally.  A board could be “adjusted” for a particular “angle” or attitude for optimal function at that moment…

The second thing would be to incorporate SMA’s into an ultra-lightweight aerostructure.  Shape Memory Alloys could be somehow embedded into a good baseline board shape.  The board would probably be hollow, even valved, and the SMA’s would be controlled by a miniaturized on-board programmable processor.  By varying voltage through the wireframe of the board, the shape and flex of the board could be changed.  The wireframe would dual purpose as tensile members and shape changing.  A basic example would be SMA bands embedded laterally, likely in pairs, so bottom contour could go from convex belly to concave(s) in milliseconds.  Also imagine a board “puffed up” for easier paddle then shrunk down for tight surfing once you’re going…

What I just said ^^^ would be in the millions of $$$, but you said no limit…   (I can provide some basic layups for the more realistic answer I gave, ha)


Hi!  Been wanting to meet with you just to talk shop, time is my problem, I really dig your hands-on real deal approach, bravo!  “What makes a surfboard go?”  OH MAN… (smart aleck response: Waves, Gravity, Muscle.) LOL    Actually, the typical board is static, it needs those external elements to go.  To make a board go WELL, now that’s a life-long journey, even with the collective brain trust here on Swaylock’s.  For some, it doesn’t matter, “I just wanna get a couple waves before sunset…”  vs where things might matter a little more, “What if we changed the foam and glassed a load strip in it?”  Other than that, I too am shaking my head…   …let me just summarize with “Anything in the board’s character to work with waves, gravity and muscle in a way in which the rider likes.”


Great question.  I think a LOT about Flex in Surfboards…  …I’ve had arguments with reputable shapers, saying “boards don’t flex” but my training tells me otherwise, in fact EVERYTHING is a spring, even a rock, even water, especially MOVING water (or You, moving across water (a relative intertial frame shift for discussion’s sake.))  First, and I don’t mean to be a smart ass, but nomenclature is Longitudinal for lengthwise flex, also called Straight Bending.  Bending from rail-to-rail is Lateral, or I’ve heard some call it “curling” on surfboards is less understood (until the introduction of “parabolic,” or “perimetric” stringers.)  The twist, as mentioned is Torsion.  All 3 bending modes are important, and I have tested and validated what I thought was desireable (THANK GOD FOR 1" WIDE CARBON GRAPHITE TAPE.)  I’ve placed tape in various directions on boards, to completely/partially lock out discrete bending modes.  eg. glass on 1" carbon tape at 45 deg X’s on a board to lock out Torsion.  (90 for Lateral, etc.)  This is where I got in a LOT of HOT water with some kneeboard builders, firmly convinced the twist is what made their boards go, but in general I’ve found Torsion to be the enemy.  Surfboards (thin ones especially,) will bog down with they twist too much.  Surfboards are glass in such a way to leave them wide open for too much torsion, the cloth comes off the rolls at 0/90 since the beginning.  The 0 deg, or “warp direction” is good for Longitudinal control (of bending.)  (90 or “fill direction” is good for Lateral control.)  Most boards do not have cloth at 45 degrees, thus are wide open to twist and non-immediate rebound.  You will benefit with “off axis” glassing, that’s been done for decades, I’ve met success with it, but be careful, if you do -20 deg with one pull, it is suggested to do a compliment of some sort (I don’t mean, “hey bro, good job,”) to counter the single offset behavior.  That said, I’ve done a lot of building on Asymmetrics with asymetric layups to promote certain behaviors and to block out others.

I’ve kind of hinted at the downstroke/return stroke thing.  Basically, you can break down the action of a board flexing into two operations.  First, your body English is transferred into the board (board bends.)  Then you unweight, and the board comes back to original shape, OS.  The first transfer has a surfer in control, loading up a turn, then kind of “leaping” off the board.  At this point the surfer is VULNERABLE, being unweighted, and REALLY depending upon the board to come along with them to the next position/mode of the ride.  If the spot you are leaping toward MATCHES what the board does- stoked! But if the board leaps not enough or too soon, then you’ll find the mismatch to throw the timing off the remainder of a ride.  (Believe me, we’ve seen this here, a couple of the board builders in our area are really into flex and you can spot a killer set-up versus a not-so-killer-set-up!)  Thus, the rebound energy, how it returns to OS, is VERY important.


Hi Harry!  Did you see the black a_symm last time you were here?  That was my personal board, it gets borrowed SO much that I haven’t ridden it in over a year even though I nudge and ask about how my board is doing.  I’ve been getting the shapes a little less asymmetric looking and focusing on asymmetric rocker and asymmetric glassing (see above.)  Also been wanting to mix the foam up like I talked about, haven’t had the time, but I’d like to do a mix of EPS (rigid,) PU (semi) and PPE (bendy) in various parts of the board to enhance behavior (both in surfing and paddling.)  Still messing with fins, but I think I somehow nailed the fin position out the starting gate as I’ve come full circle on it…


Good stuff, keep it coming!

Best regards,


… great to see you here , [by]  George !


  your wisdom and experience has been missed !





Please talk about fish bottoms. Any special treatment beyond slight Vee?  Or do you even do that?  Thx


Hiya Chip!  Hope you’re good mate.  Hoping for a more conducive environment to share ideas, there’s plenty of other forums for the other stuff.

Really liking your dedication to fins, seeing a lot of success with the “lollipop” style designs per Greenough/Ekstrom/Burch et al.



Most of the classic fish were flat or belly-to-flat.  Soon after they were single con throughout but spun out at speed.  Vee throughout the board is loose but robs all kinds of speed (with rare exceptions.)  Then there’s the latest that Frye and Gephardt have been doing which is like a belly with a double concave inside of it.  Right now I am doing something along the lines of what Jeff Alexander has been doing for decades and it works well.  He does a rotating/spiral INVERTED vee.  Spiral can be seen as changing depth with repsect to width of the section in question.  As one progresses down the board the Invee will get deeper (or shallower,) then flares off the tail behind the keels.  Main noticible effect is the board gets a lot looser whilst still going super fast.  So, logic says since it’s so loose now, why not drop the rocker a bit more?  Which in turn makes the board go faster.  Right now the boards are an octave if not two, faster pretty much to the board that the keels need rethinking.

Once that is done I should have a good package going…   …oh, and then there’s the flex…  …and weight distribution




Hi George…Great to see you sharing your knowledge here.

I know I’ve bothered you with PM’s in the past in regards to asymmetric outlines and fin set ups (thanks again  for being generous with your time and answers then), and am interested that you mention you are moving toward less asymmetric “looking” boards (I assume you mean asymmetric outline and fin set ups by this) and towards asymmetric rocker (I assume this affects lateral bottom contours as well). Given that I’ve never felt completely comfortable with “conventional asymmetrical thought” due to the inherent associated foot positioning issues, forehand versus backhand, with the different rail lines and fin set ups, etc, the asymmetric rocker path appeals to me greatly.

So after that long winded pretext my question is this:

Given your experience with asymmetric design and the feedback you’ve received over the years, which performance characteristics in your asymmetrical boards have been your objective? In other words, which traits of a normal symmetrical board on its forehand and backhand have you been working to eliminate or enhance?

Many thanks.



Hey George -

Great to see you here.  Dale Solomonson always has great things to say about you.  He was on about some of that “filler” cloth, I think it was nylon, a while back, he said you were having some success.  I never did get around to trying it.  What I did pick up as a wise, simple, thing to do: I started doing a 45/45 orientation deck patch.  Given my already heavy glass schedule, I can’t claim to have seen big changes, but it sure didn’t hurt anything.  Thanks for the reports back in the day.

My question is: What do you think about quads, and if you are doing them, what are your thoughts about rear fin position, i.e., “McKee” esq. v. edge and closer to the front fins, ala Robin Mair?

Thanks for taking the time to share George -

George;  I like to combine a down rail flowing bottom contour (the break line from soft to hard is what I find chalenging for customs) with a spiral vee on a fish with a more speeddialer fin set-up on anything under 6’ for riders 180 lbs or less, but thats just me…

Anyway, here’s my question!  What’s your favorite right hand break (on the planet that you have surfed) and what would you shape for that break for a 60 + year old George who is still in good (and repaired) shape?


Hi Rohan!  Ha, NEVER a bother Rohan, yes I recall those exchanges, I hope it got things going the right direction (re. fins, ha)

Very good question “…which traits of a normal symmetrical board on its forehand and backhand have you been working to eliminate or enhance?”

I want to address the surfer, before the board.  “Biomechanics” of the rider.  I designed suspension systems in 3 rockets (up to 40 ton payloads going 6,000 mph through the jet stream (150 mph **side **wind,)) and our main “skill” that we learned was to visualize the “load path.”  Looking at a surfer, **WAIT! **Better yet give this a try: standing on a floor with feet in surf stance, lift your heels off the floor a little bit- now hop.  Note the muscles you used, visualize the joints moving and how much they moved, “What stays tense?”  NOW, standing, same stance, raise your toes off the floor, the weight on your heels- and hop.  Totally different feel isn’t it?  

Dang it, if we surfed parallel like a skier then we could really exploit a symmetric surfboard, but we put one foot ahead of the other and created a SURF STANCE.  It is the mechanics of the rider in a stance which may dictate the need for asymmetry in various aspects of the board.  To anwer the question in part, I’m trying to enhance the use of the board for both heel side and toe side turns.  (Toe Side Turn would be front side bottom turn, hopping with heels off the floor.  Heel Side the opposite.)  Herein lies the rub, as humans, we adapt, we get accustomed to, and we tend to exploit, what we have.  With a symmetric board we have adapted our two stances to one board, nothing wrong with it, just know that you adjust to make it happen.  For example, when riding a shortboard, andyou are driving down the line frontside and want to go into a cutback, you will take a half step back onto the tail and set the heel side rail.  This shift costs speed, you’re “checking” yourself (bringing up your chest, or your forward bearing weight, or drive, to make the shift in order to ride the other rail into a turn.)  Just yesterday I had a 40-something y.o. surfer, very good, who thought he had plateaued in his surfing, comment how the A_Symm board constantly maintained speed, and held speed through manuevers like figure-8 cutbacks and backside off-the-lips, he laughed at the board the day before, dismissed it.

A board can be built to exploit these two stances- enter Asymmetry.  Aussies, Carl Ekstrom and several others understood the need to accommodate the fact that we have a stance decades ago, like a half-century ago.  First, asymmetry was expressed in the obvious aspect: the Outline.  Delving further and further into it, the realization came that other aspects like bottom contour, rail(s,) rocker, and fins must also be addressed.  Right now I am into making the outline a little more subtle rather than trying to make a visual statement.  I would say rocker is more important but must be adjusted in conjuction with other aspects, as mentioned.  Also, I see bottom contours being varied from one side against the other, in fact the supposed “centerline” of the contours gets shifted as well.

Overall, I think it takes quite a bit of understanding of how a board works, and each of the constituent parts, can add or subtract to an end-use behavior.  That said, if you have a favorite board that backsides really well, and a frontside board that does the compliment, then “weld” the two together, (the challenge then being which side is “how far forward” relative to the other side, to eliminate checking and stance shifts.)



Dale!  Tell him I love the 'Nuematic he custom-built for me 10-15 years ago, it’s saved my sanity on many occaision!

Yes, biasing cloth is a great trick, amazing what some salient placement of common materials will do.  That filler cloth (also called a “bulk modifier”) was nylon-based at first. A company called Innegrity came up with the biaxial version so you could use it in conjunction with performance fabrics, instead of 30 layers of expensive pure carbon graphite on a project for example. Typically, the “in-between” layers on multi-layer jobs do not get put to work like the inner/outer layers.  Enter “foam sandwich” construction- then I took it a step further and used thick weave burlap (with a very fluffy microsphere matrix,) as the in-between layer.  This might be what Dale is referring to, I later called it “Liquid Foam Sandwiching,” because it was pretty easy to go around 3-dimensional curves, unlike veneers and foam sheeting.

Quads-  Built a LOT of them.  Story time.  My business partner and I were approached by a Peruvian pro-surfer/shop owner who wanted some of our boards.  Well, not boards, SHAPES.  He wanted to SHIP shaped blanks to Peru then get them glassed there for a fraction of the cost.  They were our normal thruster performance shortboards. We built crates around 40+ shapes and this pro guy’s Dad’s shipping company got them to Peru UNSCATHED. Two months later I go to Peru, took what I thought was a good quad, 5’10" x 19-3/4" x 2-3/8" Round Tail, fins were: front 11 x 1-1/4 + 3  rear 5-1/2 x 1-1/4 + 1 (my nomenclature is “from tail x from rail + pointed off nose.”)  Chicama can get PERFECT, it’s not a death wave but VERY machine-like when it’s good.  I was lucky and got it for two weeks, and the guys I was with had the place to change our my Future boxes, literally machining right on top of the old ones, allowing for changes in position.  I focused on the quad rear boxes.  I found that during long bottom turns, the shore-side fins would both pop out at the same time.  For what I was doing, those drawn bottom turns, it meant I was checking myself (my chest would come up, disturbing the forward drive I had.)  At times it felt like the fins were letting go too harshly, like an almost spin out.  So I moved the rear quads inboard and found that about 2" in from the rail (for THAT particular round tail) allowed the fins to release SEQUENTIALLY, and I could bear down all the way through the turn with a nice transition.  I also felt the board needed a little more yaw resistance so I shifted the quad rears AFT more, too much, then came back a bit.  

The ideal position on that board was 11 x 1-1/4 + 3, 5-1/4 x 2 + 2.  If I had a “formula” it would be to “take the front fin position, 11 in this case, divide by 2, then subtract another 1/4”."  The distance in from the rail have been roughly like the thruster up front then double it and take away 1/2 to 3/4"  As for pointing at the nose, I mimic the thruster in the front for common quads, and do a little less for the quad rears.

Here’s a dedicated quad I did recently for a board you’ll be seeing at large Maverick’s and Peahi:

17 x 1-1/8 + 3, 8-1/4 x 1-7/8 + 2 (see bottom of post)


Hi Brian! 

How you been?!  I think we should have qualified that question a little bit, because on that wave, I did absolutely nothing, just sat there.  A right hander called Rifles in the Mentawai chain.  A special day, about 8 ft faces, and it was fuckin’ perfect, all day long. Then all the guys went in, the wave came right to me, looked like I would never make it but was committed. Dropped in, set trim and it was like being behind a sheet glass water fall for the entire ride.  I was on a 6’3" x 18-7/8" x 2-3/8" round tail thruster.  MAN that one particular wave was perfect, “I was intoxicated with the exuberance of my own velocity.” I think if I could build a decent one, I’d try a FINLESS, minimal board, maybe a modernized alaia, out of carbon or a metallic?  about 16" wide, very sinky, so I felt more “involved” with the wave, rather than ‘a jockey on a big horse’- “Me and the board, as one…” ha, I’d want the board to drop away into the wave and with my sage experience, land in perfect stance.  But really, it seems that’s where we are headed, to the aesthetic of the** entire** ride, rather than the flash glamour of another backflip gymnast platform move.  (I’ve pulled a few air reverses/allie oops in my day (banging my cane on the porch,) so I can talk those moves down a bit…ha)  BUT you said 60+,  maybe instead, have a protective suit, like a motorcross/Imperial Storm Trooper type deal with O2 supply, ha, and just body surf the perfect tube.  Maybe shape the body plates out of foam so the suit would plane, thinking Squirrel Suits/Wing Suits but for surfing…

Thanks guys.

Best regards,


Thanks George,
I have a bad habit of transposing the words lateral & longitudinal.  Glad you knew what I meant.
Regarding flex, how are you creating it?  What would you consider just the right amount?  Full length or localized?
I appreciate your consideration.
I have several more questions but will wait until others have had a chance to ask questions for awhile.

Thanks for all the good information.

How are the assyms selling? Are they popular, still kinda one offs? I don’t see them on your website, so I’d guess they are mostly customs. I think the assym is much overlooked but will prove to be the right path to follow. The idea of having a looser shorter side and a stiffer side makes a lot of sense.

This comment you have…

“Right now I am doing something along the lines of what Jeff Alexander has been doing for decades and it works well.  He does a rotating/spiral INVERTED vee.  Spiral can be seen as changing depth with repsect to width of the section in question.  As one progresses down the board the Invee will get deeper (or shallower,) then flares off the tail behind the keels.  Main noticible effect is the board gets a lot looser whilst still going super fast.  So, logic says since it’s so loose now, why not drop the rocker a bit more?  Which in turn makes the board go faster.  Right now the boards are an octave if not two, faster pretty much to the board that the keels need rethinking.”

That got my attention. Looking forward to seeing where you take this.

Also, there’s been a lot of talk about fins lately. Do you have favorites that you use with your boards?

Thanks, and I hope to see you in the future, and maybe get myself the latest version of your assym.


We’ve been building the same boards for decades, with a tweak here, a tweak there,

the result a current design paradigm so nailed down pro boards are essentailly mirror reflections with differentiating stickers,

After rereading George’s highly succinct and wholly logical design treaties several times,

a path out of the current design/build cul-de-sac is evident.

Awesome stuff, George,looking forward to your thoughts on fin design.




Was going to hold off asking this but since you are about to launch on fin design please talk about fin placement WRT cavitation. Remember the asymm fin placement conversation? I’ll note that Loehr used to pull up the trailer fin into a tighter cluster (5 1/2 inch up from tail plus) to avoid interference but you have taken it a fair but further.  I got away from thrusters for this very reason until your asymm

Dang George…  My mind is still expanding like the universe…  

I’ll pass on your love to Dale the next time I see him.  It was the Innegra that he talked about.  I love the idea of burlap and microspheres… A man after my own heart.

I eased off on my more extreem asym to mostly fin placement.  I love everything you said about asyms…  So true.

That gun looks great. 

As you moved your rear fins back and in, did you find you may have lost some top end speed?