Surfboards are long narrow boards used to navigate and slide on high waves. They are light and easy to carry, but yet strong enough to support the weight of an adult standing on them. These boards, like the sport of surfing, were invented in Hawaii and were first made from wood, especially koa wood. Koa wood was popular because the trees were so tall and the wood itself was heavy.
Today, polyurethane or polystyrene foam is used in the construction of surfboards and is then covered with layers of fiberglass. The result is a very lightweight board that is very buoyant in the water and easy to maneuver. There are long boards and short boards. The long boards are eight feet long or more and are thicker and wider. The short boards are only about 5 to 7 feet in length and have a pointed nose.
The main parts of a surfboard are:
• Nose – the front tip of the board, which can be pointed or rounded.
• Tail – the back part of the board that comes in various shapes. The shape of the tail directly affects how the board will perform in the water and how easy or difficult it is to maneuver.
• Deck – the surface of the board on which the surfer stands.
• Bottom – the part of the board that rests on the water
• Rails – the side edges of the board
• Fins – these keep the board from turning sideways
• Stringer – a thin piece of wood running the length of the board to help increase its strength. This is not a requirement, though, because some surfboards do not have any stringers.
• Leash and leash cup – the leash is a stretchy cord attached to the board in a small indentation called the leash cup. The cord is attached to the surfer’s ankle and helps keep the surfer from losing the board when he/she falls off.
• Rocker – the curve in the bottom of the board that can affect the speed
• Concave – the contours on the bottom of the board designed to direct the water through the fins.
In addition to long and short boards, there are other kinds of surfboards used. Egg boards are about 6 to 8 feet in length and have a rounder shape than the typical surfboard. They are generally used for shorter waves and are mainly for fun, rather than for competitive sports. Fish boards have a tail shaped like a swallow and have twin fins. These too are best used in shallower water and for shorter waves. For large waves, such as those off the beaches of Waikiki, surfers prefer to use gun boards that can be from 7 to 12 feet long.