What's the point of a Swallow or a Stinger tail?

Has anyone ever ridden a swallow tail or a stinger type of board? What’s your theory behind those designs Ben Aipa came up with? What boards do they work or not work best on?



When I worked in the fishing tackle industry we used to joke that the stuff wasn’t designed to catch fish, it was designed to catch fishermen. Same thing with most designs in this industry. We need smiley icons on this site. Insert one here.

I believe its called a sting not a stinger , Ben is most associated with that style of board and he has made a great many and still does make them. He made one for me a few years ago and I still have it , as far as I am concerned it is one of those magic boards that gives you confidence to take off on anything , it is very stable in the white water allowing you to get around it to the next section , paddles fast I just love it , in Hawaii Ben has a lot of followers who swear by his boards , having said that remember we are talking about Hawaii and the boards may not work so well for you where you surf . My board is   8.10    22.3/4    3.1/2  Bens boards tend to be thick , a bit like me , lots of float under your chest , it has a two plus one set up , I generally use two thruster side fins and a red top center fin , but I have used other set ups and they all work well . I recently bumped into a guy with almost the same board as me and he was using Bens curved side fins and loved them . I really cant say enuf about the board design , to me and for me its great .  Now for the other side of the coin Ben was having his board designs made by Boardworks for a while and those boards are a very diff animal similer construction to Surftech , Ben did not lay his hands on them or talk to the individual buying the board it was strictly off the shelf they were sold everywhere and pirated by a lot of asian manufactures and although I know guys that had them and loved them  as far as I am concerned Bens custom boards are far far better .  Other folks may have a diff opinion but I say try you may like it   .    Aloha T

I had a stinger back in the day and loved it.  I don’t know if it translates well to the thruster design.


You might want to edit that video, though.  When he says the design was inspired by Larry Bertlemann, they show a picture of Buttons.


And what ever happened to Mark Liddell??

Pintails hold in the pocket better, but are not as loose as a full roundtail which, of course, maintains volume throughout the tail. So when you get out on the face of the wave and want to do a cutback, say, the pintail is not going to ‘want’ to change direction as easily as would the roundtail. But of course, the roundtail is going to have a tendency to ‘slide out’ in critical situations (steep faced waves), whereas as the pintail will hold tight.

The idea of the stinger (as I understand it anyways) is to combine the best of both worlds. I have one board that is a rounded pintail with a double stinger that holds very nicely in the pocket yet is still loose and manuverable on the open face of the wave. (One problem with stingers is that they are more difficult to repair when the board gets dinged in that area.)  Another way to look at it is that a stinger is can make a longer board feel shorter (or vice versa).  

Swallow tails are also an attempt to get the advantage of a pintail (increased hold in more critical sections) while still maintaining some volume in the tail. A swallowtail is really two little pintails, one of which will be engaged at any moment and give you increased tracking power. Also, when you change directions, (the theory) is that there is a moment of increased ‘looseness’ when neither pin is engaged and the tail can ‘slide’ more like a roundtail. How effective they are is debatable. Some people think they are a gimmick, some people like them just fine. (They can also be a pain to fix when the tail gets dinged!) 

While there is probably not much reason to put a stinger on a thruster, a swallowtail may work to good effect.