What board for tall, skinny, old(er) shortboarder?

This ought to be interesting. … I’ve been thinking about my next board and thought I’d avail myself of the swaylockers expertise.

I’m 5’11" and 155 pounds, 44 years young, a die hard (started surfing in the 70’s) shortboarder. I surf theSouthBay (of Los Angeles) beach breaks, head high and under 90% of the time. The waves are usually pretty hollow , close out a lot too.

I’m presently riding a 6’10" late 80’s style (flatter rocker) 6 channel swallow. It’s super fast, but kind of stiff, hard to bring all the way around on a roundhouse. Also the flat rocker makes landing off the lips in steep sections an iffy proposition. I have better luck doing floaters but miss the feel of carving off the tops like I did on my previous board- a 6’6" rusty.

S o what do the experts recommend? please be specific- i.e., dimensions.

Hey llilibel03,

I have found that guys of your stature do well on boards that are shorter, wider and then have the thickness adjusted to suit your tastes. You did not give the width of your present board, but I would go maybe an inch wider and about 6 inches shorter. I had a lot of riders doubt that they could handle it. In every case where the surfer let me do this concept, they came back astonished/stoked that the board did everything they wanted. I have a guy 6’4" 165lbs on 6’2" x 19-3/4" x 2-1/4" on a wide-tailed squash and I have witnessed their sufing improve. The improvement was rapid; usually within 4 or 5 sessions and it was substantial. I have a few ideas why someone tall and thin would like a board shorter/wider than mainstream and I realize the bottom line here is anecdotal, but you may consider these findings useful anyway…


“… I have a few ideas why someone tall and thin would like a board shorter/wider than mainstream …”

please , tell , George …

I WOULD like a sane reason as to why I [a 5’10 x 140-145lb 44 year old who ALSO gets confronted with head high and under borderline closeouts…roundhouse opportunities…not!] …would be mucking around with oh, say , 5’7 x 20 x 2 1/2 " ‘stubbie’ single fins , 5’11 x 20" x 2 1/2" ‘fish’ , and the like ?

  1. too much resin sniffed , over the years ?

  2. trying to be 18 again ?

  3. Shock value ?

  4. borderline certifiable / lack of reason ?

  5. I like straining my lower back and neck and shoulders unneccessarily ? [not]

  6. …ALL of the above ?

Hey Ben,

I think it has a lot to do with leverage vs. rider weight. Honestly, there is not a lot of muscle mass for the given levers (appendages) so too big of a board (read longer than someone shorter but of equal weight) could be a hinderance. On the other hand, I am finding the strength in the lower legs of someone of tall/thin stature is often about the same as someone with more weight or more muscle. This translates into the ability to get a wide board to go rail-to-rail. So I figured why not get them to exploit their strengths and take away any deficits.

Well, it seems to work.

There is also the issue of stance width and the shorter disky boards, by nature of the design, forcing the rider to have a wider stance (more leverage per given rider’s strength and weight). I see a lot of tall/thin surfers on longer boards with very narrow stances which seems to be an adjustment to the given board. Unfortunately, this adjustment seems to force the rider to not surf at/near full strength.

So, I am not touting a shortboard, rather a shorter, wider board than expected with a thickness to suit the surfer’s comfort level.

From your menu, Coela, I’d say 1, 2, and a bit of 5.


P.S. as always, exceptions exist; this has just been my finding with people I have worked with…

thanks George !

…makes sense to me !

The extreme we saw of this was , of course, Nat Young at Johanna at “the world titles” [1970?] when all what 6’3 ? of him tried to ride a 5’6 stubbie in 6-8’ walls , while Rolf Aurness rightly whipped his arse on a 7’ pintail gunny shape .

moral of that story / lesson Nat learnt that day … “the right board for the conditions” …

I also have a tall skinny build (6’1", 160lbs.), can’t claim the “old” thing though I’m only 23. I also have been having really good luck with shorter wider, slightly thicker boards too. It started when I got a twin fin fish, and it worked really well for me. After about 6-8 months of riding that though, I really missed the in the pocket, hit the lip style surfing that you get out of modern shortboards. The fish kinda made me in the habit of screaming down the line almost out of the wave and then doing big drawn out cutbacks, which is fun but can get old.

My current board (or at least the board that I ride the most right now) is 6’1", 19 1/2" wide, 2 5/8" thick, with a wider outline and works great for me, couldn’t be happier. Catches waves pretty well and it doesn’t feel like I’m sinking on the wave or not getting anywhere. Pleanty of speed and drive, but still loose and manueverable. The more agressive you ride it the better it works.

you know , George, your comment really got me thinking …

of how I DO stand on the tail with my legs close together …when I ride my 7’ single fin .

The one good thing about my ‘stubbie’ single fin board [and my ‘fish’] is that I HAVE to consciously crouch more [I have a very upright ‘old school’ mal style , I’ve been told] . I also have to widen my stance , and move further forward on these designs, to make them work well for me.

Which I feel has been better for my surfing … it is helping me to break old habits . Plus, having to paddle harder , taking off later / deeper, and turning more have been three benefits that come to mind.

The balance for me is finding the 'right ’ length for the conditions…something that will fit into the wave well , and also not wreck my back when paddling . To me , at the moment , that feels like something in the range of 6’4 x 18 1/2 -19" x 2 3/8" . Nose and tail variable…


Hey, thanks for the feedback. The 6-10 six channel is 19 wide by 2-5/8 thick. I am thinking of going to a 6’-4" x 19 x 2 1/2. 19 3/4 sounds too wide. The waves around here can be bottomless at low tide. Also, I tried a friends fish that was 20’ and it felt like you have to surf them flat. I like nothing more than putting the board on its edge, turning as hard as I can. I see everyone starting to ride wide fishes and, considering the kind of waves we almost always have, can’t help but think they’re the wrong tool for the job.

The Rusty I had was 6-6 x 18 1/2 x 2.4. Again maybe a tad too long and not quite floaty enough, although I liked the way it could go over on its edge and get vertical on the closeouts and still pull the landings.

I want to shape my own board (I used to shape in high school) but can’t glass (live in a condo). I like the channel bottom but don’t think I could pull that off after not having shaped for so long.


so,what would you say for a surfer 6’4" 210lbs.and thats a thin build?

Hey Haubush,

one of my best childhood friends is 6’4" 210lbs. I’ve been making his boards for years. He was one of the guys I worked with when I figured out the short/wide board thing.

He surfed a very hollow mainland Mex beach break religiously for about 20 years. Off season he surfed here in San Diego and was always unhappy with the way his boards went when compared to Mexico (beyond the obvious). His boards for down there were long, a bit gunny, etc. His boards up here carried a lot of those traits. I did several short/wides for several others and realized that it might help my friend. I talked him into a 6’8" x 21" x 2-1/2" with a wide tail (almost 16" at one foot from the tail) and man, he was hesitant (he doesn’t hold back with this opinions because he’s a good friend). He openly doubted the design.

Something happened where I didn’t hear from him for a while, it was winter and then he walked into my shop one afternoon. Big grin. Basically my buddy was a stoked grom again. He said he was doing stuff he hadn’t done… …ever. 2 months later he ordered a 6’6" double wing, 21" wide, 2-5/8" thick with sloped fine rails. He wanted the nose a little more disky, I think it was around 15-1/4 wide a foot down from the nose.

We surfed together and I was very impressed at how noticibly better he was surfing; even in junk conditions he NEVER would attempt since I could remember. Stoked like a kid. Well, summer came along and he made his pilgrimmage to mainland. He took the short/wide with him just for the little days and the epic performance left point to the south of the beachbreak.

At the end of summer, he returned and he tracked me down. Super energized with his description of how he went out to the gnarly hollow beach break with the disk (his other boards were at his cabina and his friend talked him into trying the disk rather than go back). He is very accustomed to surfing the place and he said he could make heavier drops from further back than he ever could on his guns. He was driving in the tube and making waves he previously would get shut down on. He has a quiver of similar boards now.

I have another friend who is 6’4" 160lbs and in a similar way, he found the short/wide board to work quite well for him. His boards are 5’11" x 19-1/2 x 2-1/4". Basically, I was now ignoring how tall the riders are and going by weight and foot size (of all things).

Overall riders seem stoked, even thankful. This is not a rave as I know this kind of board will not suit everyone of this stature. I make longer boards for tall dudes as well; I’m not a zealot. But hey, here’s an option that I found works, one I never would have expected…



im in 100% agreement with +1…wider is better you just have to make the right adjustments to maintain performance rail to rail surfing. i read some of the comments regarding the way fishes ride and i totally agree with those comments. assuming were talking about traditional fishes, they cannot be compared to a well designed small wave shredder design…so many differences…fishes have thicker rails, wide point forward and really flat rocker with flat to vee bottoms.

Take your everyday mid-length shortboard, keep the rocker smooth and relaxed, add some width and thin the rails…awesome…im 41 y/o, 6ft x 175lb with big feet…my favorite board design is 6’4 x 19.8 x 2.4 x 14.8T…smooth rocker, single concave, crispy bottom edges…big fins up front medium center…avg wave shralping majic. 5 years ago all i rode were 6’10s but i have seem the light now…cant go back

good stuff +1!