Surfboard Weight Bias

Hi All,

I was just wondering about how the overall weight balance of a surfboard affects the design or the way the surfboard surfs. What I mean is, most surfboards I believe are tail heavy because of the fins mostly (traction pad, leash also add to the effect). For example when you pick up a surfboard from the nose, it seems very heavy. Whereas, if you pick it by the tail it seems lighter. Its like a see- saw right? And when you do find the actual balance point it tends to be towards the tail (from my experiences anyways). I’m not saying this is a bad thing but where would the optimal balance point for a surfboard be? Or maybe we can go a step further into designing a weight bias that helps the style of surfing that you want (nose riding, staying in the pocket, going down the line, etc.) Thanks for your replies.



OK, so it might seem that I’m not taking the other design aspects into consideration such as rocker, foil, thickness, outline shape. I understand that these may present with greater effects over the “weight bias” but I was wondering if weight bias was interfering with any of these design characterists and what can we do to maximize its effects. I hope that cleared it up if anyone was confused.



" where would the optimal balance point for a surfboard be?"

an interesting question …

optimal for what , exactly ? vertical surfing ? trimming ? nose riding ?

I am certainly no expert on these matters , but my guess is that foil , and the position of the thickest point of the foil will affect how a board surfs [combined with rocker and other design elements , of course]

The other thought I had is “sweet spot” / spots on a board …how the sweet spot / area relates to where the centre of balance is on a board ?

(The “centre of balance” , for me , being the spot where , holding a board by the rail , in one hand … how far up or down the rail does my hand have to be , until the board is level ? [I hope that makes sense ] …)

Bill Barnfield and others may hopefully throw much more light on this than I ever could , but it certainly got me thinking , this thread, combined with KCasey’s interesting post . [Which covered a bit on the dynamics of bottom shape , trim , turning , and such ]

It got me thinking about WHERE I am standing on the board / compared to where the "centre of balance " of the board is [sorry if that may be a “wrong term” ?] . It also got me thinking on where the “sweet spot/s” may be for each different board and wave I am riding ?

…any further thoughts / clarification / experiences , MUCH appreciated , THANKS !

I just hope the above ties in with what you were asking / saying , Rio …I don’t want this to be anything like a thread hijack , I guess I was just kinda rephrasing your question as I saw it , into my thoughts and questions .

…Bill Barnfield , are you there ?



I suspect tail biased, nose flicking vert surfers want the lightest nose possible, while turn and trim front footers like a little meat and float forwards, for stability and drive.

Try attaching a 2lbs weight to the nose of your board and you’ll know which you are.

The lighter the nose,generally the quicker the turn.....THIS IS all relative to the boards length,wt.,foil thickness, rail shape and outline............. 

I prefer to use the board/wave speed to do the work. In fact most of my personal boards are patched on the nose during lamination. this gives it a bit of distal swing weight for drive and drop in speed on take-offs.

“In fact most of my personal boards are patched on the nose during lamination. this gives it a bit of distal swing weight for drive and drop in speed on take-offs.”

…very interesting , simple , and …and a great idea ! [Now , WHY didn’t I think of that before ?!]

The main thing I didn’t like the feel of with thrusters since 1991 was …the narrow and [what felt to me] ‘too light’ nose . But with your idea Herb , it would be possible to still have a narrow , fairly thin , rockered nose , but with a bit more weight there [as I am used to , in my other boards].

So…how many layers , and what oz cloth , and how far down the board does the nose patch go ? Do you lap the rails with the patch , occassionally , too ??

It would help strengthen the nose against snappage in the shallow sandbars we get here in spring / summer , I’m thinking !


What would the foil be like on most of your boards , herb ?

would the thickest part be …back from centre , in the centre , or forward of centre ?

it’s something I have NOT read a lot of talk about on here , and WHY I resurrected the “[surfboard] foils [photos]” thread , hoping to see shots of how people foil their boards , and WHY , hopefully !



The lighter the nose,generally the quicker the turn.....THIS IS all relative to the boards length,wt.,foil thickness, rail shape and outline.............  

I prefer to use the board/wave speed to do the work. In fact most of my personal boards are patched on the nose during lamination. this gives it a bit of distal swing weight for drive and drop in speed on take-offs.

Relative - yah. Quicker initiation of a turn vs. inertia once started is an interesting trade-off. I suspect that typical thruster jockey turn performance wants a tail heavy board, whereas longboard and other classic pivot turning styles would want more weight forward to smooth and perpetuate the motion. Carving turns (I suspect) would be weight distribution neutral.


Hi to ya all,

To me, a humble Soul in a world full of confusion,

the best place for the center of weight seems to be in the center of everything,

being the center of gravity, the center of floatation, the center of lift, so the place where I stand on the board. This makes it easier to control, that is what it’s about, isn’t it,


so the board feels like it’s part of your body, something to make your feet bigger to stand on the water (yes, they used to call me jesus when I still had my beard).

The biggest revelation was getting my fins lighter, so the centers of everything came under my feet. Seems to me a better solution to the problem then making the nose heavier.

This goes for fishes and shortboards, longboards and others are beyond what I know,

I leave that to the guys who are experts.

I hope to have helped this tread a bit on its way,

Greets from Soul

BTW I make my own and if you want your fins tooo. PM me

noseride on a 6’4" fish or walk on water?

Hi All,

great responses.

What I mean by weight bias is how surfboards are normally unbalanced 50/50 from the center. This might be becasue of fins or whatever. This never bothered me until I rode my compsand. Now with my compsand, the tail feels alot heavier than my old thrusters because the nose isn’t as heavy as before. This messes up the ratio of weight from nose to tail. Although it feels heavier, it can’t be heavier because my compsand is overall lighter than all my other boards. So this got me thinking of how this weight that is now concentrated on the tail of the board is going to affect my surfing. Then this got me into thinking of where would the optimal place for weight be. And since there are different ways of surfing, there must be different places.

I don’t know how much of this weight bias affects anything on surfing. Maybe it does maybe it doesn’t as I suspect that the shape, rocker, foil, fin placement play more significant roles.

Maybe this is why Bert uses deck concaves to lower the center of gravity of the rider and maybe help localize the weight distribution more forward?



On my standard 6.0 to “say” 6.7 boards (that are glassed w/ double 4 deck and single 4 bottom.)…I use a single 12" patch 4oz. on the deck side of the nose,and/or a 16" patch on the bottom…I put the patches on top of the finisfed lam.This way during sanding I don’t burn the main lay/ers of glass(basting helps that as well)…By-the-way this will vary in #s,sizes,wt.s of glass used…It adds enough wt. to give me abit more ummph w/o making it a beast…my foils in the nose are generally thin…like anorexic…but my lines have wided up over time,(even in my gun type boards),but because I stretch the lines in the last foot,making them straighter,they tend to look a couple inches narrower than they really are…

…soul?..As far as keep the wt. centered,ya your right…it’s a good safe bet…but think about what I’m explaining here.If the tails are heavier on most boards due to fins ,boxes…blaw,blaw,blaw…adding a little glass to the nose balances that.+++it also gives a thinner foiled nose a chance to live a bit longer …too!!!

Hi Herb and Rio,

I’m not trying to say there is no other solution to this problem, if it is even a problem at all.

This center of everything is not always on the same spot considering all different shapes. But a given shape I think has a spot where it best to center everything. If you can put all the centers in that spot I believe you shape a magic board.

Rio, when you go to that much effort to get a lighter board,why make it heavier to compensate, at least you can try it with some tape and some weight…

Herb, you idea of reenforcing the nose I like, because this serves a purpose. Thats why I made a good overlap in the glass of my nose rails. I split mine on a shallow sandbar few times. But the improve on less weight in the fins made the biggest difference to me saving 120 grams compared to fcs carbon fins. Reinforcing the area around the plugs lets you save weight also because the connection to the deck can be thinner, especially when you use glass to connect it to the deck.

And the best way can only be taping a bag of helium to the tail, that gives the best lift possible,

Warning, use a leash or it’ll go to the moon…

Greets Sjoerd

Whaaat? Chips give up on the patch thing?

I DID,I DID!!!See a puttycat!!!

Hey Herb,

Is this regarding Ben’s inline-single, double-quad, trailer fin setup?


Yar…spacey ain’t it???

Earth to Chipsfish…come in chips !!!

" where would the optimal balance point for a surfboard be?"


Bill Barnfield and others may hopefully throw much more light on this than I ever could , but it certainly got me thinking


…Bill Barnfield , are you there ?

Aloha Ben

Sorry I have been out of touch. Been way too busy lately.

Regarding balance… if boards were consistently light enough to add back weight as we desired, it would likely be added just in front of one’s front foot.

please expand bill

love to hear you thoughts

i was watching shaping 101 and he removes material from this point for modern surfing

i guess to reduce swing weight

why would you put it back other than for float and paddle?

ive found with lightweight composites my favourite board leaves plenty more volume there

without decreasing performance or noticeable increase in swing weight

Aloha Silly

First we have to consider how light is too light or what is, light enough. I am not sure we know that yet But assuming we create a board light enough (whatever that is in a given era) and that this board also has sufficient volume and surface area to function properly (whatever that is in a given era) then, where the weight in the board is distributed, can be played with and the best location sought out.

For example, if a super light board is say… 4 pounds and that is our desired target weight but current super light boards are say 6 pounds. Then we have to find a way to shave off 2 pounds. Maybe we can’t get 2 pounds off the board but we can get 1 pound off. In that case, we need to figure out where the 1 pound should best come from. Nose, Tail, Fins, Center, Perimeter, or all over equally, etc. If we choose correctly, we my be able to improve the ride and performance significantly even though we were only able to remove half the weight we hoped to. In other words. We could improve the board not just by making it simply a pound lighter, but by making it lighter in exactly the right places.

On the other hand, if we can create a board that is say… 3 pounds and our target is 4 pounds we can then choose where to place that 1 pound extra weight for the best gain in performance.

We of course aren’t considering strength here as a variable. So for the sake of discussion, all these imaginary boards are going to be strong enough, and shaped properly so that we can isolate the location of weight and not get hung up on other issues and be unable to discuss this weight issue in depth.

So… assuming we can put this 1 pound where we want… where will we put it? To consider this we have to remember that we have a board that is way too light by at least a pound. Since this is a rare occurrence, everyone who wants to dive into this discussion has to make a major adjustment in their thinking to take the rare position of an otherwise excellent board being too light. Once we are adjusted to that norm we can talk comfortably about where to add weight. Rather then where to remove it. As one would want if they were still looking for lighter being the ultimate goal. Which it may be. We just have to dismiss it here for the sake of discussion as we have to remove it as a distraction if we are going to consider where weight should be best located.

As you noted, removing weight from the areas in front of the rider is fine if you have a board that is generally too heavy in the first place. That is the norm we are accustomed to, so Carpers comments are not unusual. Swing weight as you called it, can be a big negative, especially in small waves. But in larger waves a board that doesn’t have some degree of weight forward of the rider can suffer from loss of projection, momentum and authority. Remember, there are a lot of personal preferences in how common boards ride. Few have ever ridden well shaped boards that are too light and then had to choose where they were going to add back a little weight. Few have considered this challenge let alone worked on it.

In addition to the effects of fore and aft weights noted above. Perimeter weight can slow rotation from rail to rail (or around the center) and provide a more solid feel and stable ride while centered weight will enhance rotation but may leave a board feeling a bit squirly or twitchy. Of course, all these will work in conjunction with the shape of the board etc. Like a wide board with perimeter weight and a concave bottom and big fins with too little cant, ridden by a short rider with small feet may feel nearly impossible to turn. But lets not go there, lets stay focused on finding the best location for weight.

Those who know a bit about airplane design, yacht design etc will recognize the importance of weight and where it is located. This is generally referred to as the “Center of Gravity” (balance point). The CG is the average location of the weight of the object within the object, though sometimes the CG can exist outside the object like in a boomerang.

Because a surfboard, in flight, is a combination of the board and rider, the CG will vary in its location. But when loaded in a turn and then released into a trim, the CG of the BOARD can be more prominent if not dominant. In trim, in good waves, it seems to me that the CG should be just in front of the riders CG. This may not be true in small waves where one is just wagging the nose back and forth to look like they are actually doing something! When snapping off the lip or top turning, the CG of the rider will be dominant and must lead the CG of the board. Especially if the velocity is decreasing and the board is not accelerating such that its CG is driving the turn like you can sometimes do in large, powerful waves when turning in long power arcs.

Because we need to alter a boards track and direction it isn’t appropriate to have a heavy nose like an Arrow would. But neither is the opposite true as we often need to project and drive the board forward like an Arrow from time to time.

I will stop here for now as I am sure others have much to add.


A person’s ability can/will make differences in performance.