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Filed in: Surfing Trends | On: June 15th, 2011 | Comments: (1)
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The following is an except from our interview with Ventura based shaper Todd Proctor of Proctor Surfboards.

Q: Todd, what’s your take on board design for smaller crappier waves. I’d like to discuss bigger wave boards later but I think the majority of the surfing population surfs less than ideal waves but have it stuck in their heads that they need to ride what the pros ride (me included). What types of designs work best and maybe we can list some of his top choices after the article.

A: My take on board design for smaller, crappier waves is this: a bit of the old wider, flatter, thicker concepts from the past conjoined with progressive, futuristic bending of rockers and nuanced warping of bottom contours. A dreamy, technical sentence that means just what…..? Ok, well for you and I that don’t have the luxury of two week waiting periods at the perfect spot during the perfect time of year waiting for the ideal swell…..or the benefits of jetski assist, or unlimited time off work for that matter; here’s what it boils down to….when we get that daily, or weekly window of opportunity to block the world out and find the rhythm of pure flow in the water, we want something that’s gonna go….no matter what…..even if it is two feet and onshore; something that will give us some jets under our feet to dust off the cobwebs and let the rail run free. Today, more than ever, all the board designs that have come before us are allowing us to borrow from the past, change-it up, add to it, re-invent our boards so they take us to places in marginal conditions we were never able to go before.

By mixing and matching, blending and inventing….this design process has landed us into the most exciting time to NOT be a pro, and to NOT be surfing good waves. And here’s why…board design has brought us to this wonderful place. Following, I am going to break down what I see as the essential ingredients for small, lackluster wave surfing. I’ve numbered each step because it will coincide with a particular aspect of how I put together a small wave board design.

It all comes down to (1)quick paddle speed, (2)up and into the wave early, (3)the board has to fit into the wave (4)a burst of speed at take-off, (5)speed to burn from there on out (which has always been the essential in surfing), but very important; (6)you’ve got to have hold when you need it, with (7)controlled release on demand.

So, for steps 1 through 3, not much has changed from our Steve Lis fish roots. For this you go flatter, wider, shorter, thicker…..these ingredients are nothing new; flatter rockers go faster on flatter faced waves, they paddle quicker thus getting into waves easier. The shorter length fits better into a smaller wave face…..kind of like a canvas your gonna paint on; the smaller the canvas, the tighter the tool, the larger the canvas, the more rail line you should have to draw elegant lines. At times you’ll see this rule broken such as when guys ride exceptionally little boards in big hollow heavy waves…..(aside from tow-ins, or step-offs, this is more a test of skill and a desire for a change-up of feeling under the feet… exciting challenge more than a functional big wave design breakthrough). Anyway, back to it….thicker boards also are going to paddle you quicker and get you into waves earlier; thicker boards ride higher in the water which is nice to feel on top of things in small waves rather than that sinking feeling.

Step 4 is where things get interesting…..welcome to the future. Bottom contours control the water flow through the bottom of the board; a regulator of sorts that tells a board when to hold back, when to slingshot, when to release. I am finding that more and more, concaves are here to stay and will play even greater roles in the future of boards…..combined with rockers that are blended in ways different than has been done before….new territory….it’s sick!! So, for the burst of speed at take-off, I am running quite a bit of single concave from the nose through the center of the board; combined with a fairly low entry rocker, this gets you in early, but then once you get up…..(which in small waves the norm is to be standing a bit more forward on the board initially and more off the front foot since the wave doesn’t have the push to allow for a steep drop with the back foot right on the tail straight away) the pressure from your front foot engages the concave (which creates both grip and lift at the same time….concaves are a crazy schyzophrenic design that is perfectly suited to modern surfing)….in return you get a burst of speed at take-off.

Step 5. The board needs to keep a constant steady speed regardless if it’s a flat faced part of the wave or a bit of a steep section coming at you. Typically “fish” style boards have always been quick out of the gates, but then the majority of them get all skippy and slidey and tend to loose speed out of turns….no good 🙁 A good small waves board can actually pick up speed as the wave spins off smaller and smaller, you can actually gain speed out of turns, and your board can hold in without slipping on you when you are pushing through a turn, or coming off the bottom as hard as you can. The answer, you guessed it….concaves….again. I use several different combinations of concaves that play off what the bottom rocker is doing and specific to the exact kind of bad waves the board is for. For example, in the worst, smallest, mushiest waves I’ll go with the shortest length, the fullest outline typically a roundnose, a very flat rocker, with a deep single concave under the front foot which transitions to an even deeper inset double concave past center, then into a deep vee cut through with concaves (otherwise known as spiral vee) which accelerates off the tail block. This combination makes for a board that books in the smallest stuff, holds a line through turns, but isn’t so grippy that the tail feels sticky in the flat spots….the spiral vee combo makes for a very free feeling board in the smallest, weakest conditions, yet will surprise you with how well it does hold under super high speeds and when it gets pushed on in maneuvers.

Step 6. I typically incorporate a highly technical rocker/ concave combination into the small wave boards that I refer to as “the beer belly”. The beer belly gives the boards an incredible amount of hold even though at first glance it does not have a streamlined or “fast” look to it at all. So, what is the beerbelly? Ok, I’m gonna let you in on one of my little secret brainstorms….I will put a dip, or sag in the rocker of most of my small wave boards behind center right around 2/3 of the way back of the rail line rocker of the board. At first glance, it looks like it will drag water, but if you think of a surfboard less like a water ski (which is pulled at high speeds along a relatively flat surface for the most part), and think of it more as a curve that needs to harness energy by matching the surface energy alongside another curve (the wave face)…..all of a sudden you never look at a surfboard like a water ski again; and you quit thinking about how fast a design will go on the straight, but how fast it will surf on the up and down and on rail…..since that is where all the speed comes from with surfboards…..harnessing the waves energy and getting your boards’ rails to take off like a slingshot. The “beerbelly” concept acts as a fulcrum or teetertotter between your feet that makes your board want to lay over on rail and want to gain it’s speed by matching the part of the wave where the most energy saturated parts of the waves curve are generated. A concave bottom that cuts through the center of the board just helps to create lift, allowing the beerbelly to do it’s hydrodynamic-harnessing thing.

Step 7. Ok, so we’ve got speed, we’ve got hold, we’re already into the wave early……now, we’re throwin’ down turns….maneuvers like we never thought…..yew….this board is one step ahead of me….what did I just pull…whoa that was killer….:) Controlled release…very important. It’s good to not slip and slide once you get goin’, but you don’t want to be stuck when you’re trying to break free either. This is when you are half way though a turn and you want to break the tail free a little… or your about to smash the lip, but you want the fins to disengage for just a bit. Everything from a little extra snap in a turn, to boosting a reverse. This comes down to your tail rocker, the way the bottom contours run off the tail, your tail shape, and your fins. On the really small wave boards….for the gutless horrible days, a straighter tail rocker, with a spiral vee bottom, a swallowtail or moontail and a two plus one setup (bigger side fins with a small trailer in the back) works unreal. Like I said before flatter rocker is faster, spiral vee keeps the tail free in the small stuff, a swallowtail/ moontail…..or anything where the tail block has an area cut out of it will let the water through and loosen thing up off your back foot. The moontail does this even more drastically…..the moon acts like an exhaust pipe of sorts, letting all the compressed water from the bottom concaves out, exploding off the tail block.

A more versatile all-around small waves board that will go in the crud, but also handle up to head high, will typically run a slight bit more entry rocker (still much lower than a “good waves” board), a flatter run in the rocker through the mid-section of the board; under your front foot for drive and carry through the flats. Followed by a touch of rocker just off the back fin. This little tweak off the tail rocker really does a lot for a board’s liveliness in maneuvers. I’ll run pretty even heavy concaves through the entire bottom with some inset double concaves through the fin cluster to keep the board running quick when laid over on one rail or the other. Then I’ve been putting concave running right off the tail block which has been working unreal to give the board an extra pop and a nice crisp explosiveness out of the last part of turns/ maneuvers.

Larger side fins make a board more drivey; faster in small waves. There is more fin area for the water to leverage off of when pushed on in turns…..this increases drive. The smaller the back fin is, the less drag that is created when the board is on trim or going down the line…..this keeps the board quick through sections and loose off the tail. A similar concept with quads….no back fin reduces down-the-line drag. Quads are incredibly fast. They will not pivot off the bottom and release and snap off the top the same way that tri-fins will, but they do draw the most amazing sweeping on-rail turns. The best drawn-out picking-up-speed-on-rail roundhouses can be done on quads. You’ve basically got double the fins on your rail, so you’ve got double the leverage for maximum pushback through on-rail turns. By the same token you can square up a tri-fin that much quicker coming off the bottom by pivoting around one fin…..the radius is tighter and will allow for more of a yank of the rail off the bottom and pulling of the board more out of the water and throwing it more vert into the lip. That is why I recommend going with a five fin set-up on most small wave boards. You get so much versatility i.e. drawn out down the line stuff, quad for sure…speed runs and huge arcs. Tighter, beachbreaky, more cornery vertical stuff….the tri-fin rules those conditions.

Here’s my favorites for small waves:

>From 1ft. – 3ft.: The Twin Fang and Quad Fang

>From 1ft. – 4ft.: The Lil’ Rascal and Rascal II

>From 1ft. – 5ft.: The Scarecrow

>From 2ft. – 6ft.: The Greased Pig

>From 2ft. – overhead: Da Monsta

I have just gotten done custom detailing a nice selection of these boards for Surf n Sea on the north shore and Hawaiian South Shore. I’ve taken the conditions of summertime Oahu into mind when designing each of the boards now available at these two fine shops…..having lived in Hawaii myself and being familiar with all the various breaks around the island. Be sure to check them out. I think you will be stoked. A lot of heart and soul is poured into each of the boards.

You can check out the lineup now available at Surf-N-Sea here:

And the lineup now available at Hawaiian South Shore here:

Custom orders available through both shops.


Filed in: Surfing Trends | On: May 31st, 2011 | Comments: (0)
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Proctor Surfboards

Q – Todd, what’s you’re take on the new trend to go shorter, wider, stubbier ala Dumpster Diver & Dane Reynolds which I hear about all the time? Is there a specific model that resembles this trend?

ADa Monsta would probably be the one that falls into that category….even though it has existed some years prior to the ‘Dumpster Diver’….Da Monsta is in that genre of shorter, wider, thicker boards that take the performance aspects of a “good waves” rocker chip and adapt it to a more practical board for the typical less-than-supernatural conditions we all surf in day in day out. The concept behind this type of board is speed combined with maneuverability and hold….to allow performance surfing in less than performance type of waves. You know the slopey, crumbly little corners we have to deal with in hopes to blast a section with some semblance of speed and power if a little piece of lip should pop up along the way. The biggest difference that Da Monsta has from most all of the other “tricky” little boards out there, is in the rocker/ bottom curve of the board and the hull contours. I have found that just going wider, thicker, shorter, etc… does not really fulfill the entirety of what surfers need out of a small/ average waves design.

I have come up with three different, uniquely tuned and out of the box rocker/ bottom contours that I’ve applied specifically to Da Monsta….this is what I like to refer to as the ‘engine’ of the board….even more so than just plumping a board up and shortening it, ‘the engine’ is what really gives it the get up and go…..the magic of the board.

Here is a brief breakdown on these three uniquely tuned “engines” :

  • v.1 is the flattest and best for mushy small point surf
  • v.1.3 is the most user friendly from novice to expert and working in the widest ranges of wave types and sizes
  • v.2 has a bit more rocker and can handle the demands of hyperactive rippers who can’t stay out of the pocket, or for surfers who’s local spots tend to be small, but can still be small and hollow at the same time i.e. the N.Y./ N.J. beachbreaks, Newport, Huntington, Texas, Japan, etc…small beachbreaky kind of stuff…found all over really…

Surfers in Hawaii can find the Monsta at

Filed in: Surfing Trends | On: April 28th, 2010 | Comments: (1)
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I never thought this would work but it seems that reversing your quad fins (moving your rear fins forward and front fins back) works for some surfers. One of our readers in South Africa Rudi shared his thoughts on his quad fin setup. I’ve actually seen a friend ride ripping on his shortboard with his quad fins reversed  though he didn’t know his fins were backward until I pointed it out to him.

Something I noticed, Rudi’s rear quad fin boxes look like they’re much further up than my Lil Rascal 2 (see photo below).


From Rudi:

“His Chunky Monkey 7 design matched my specs 99%. The only change was the rounded square tail to round tail, which Rod explained would give me a larger surface area that would make it easier to catch waves.

Rod originally designed the Chunky Monkey for former Pro Surfer Pierre Tostee, who wanted something that paddles easier (cause he’s not so young anymore), but that handles like a performance board (cause he can still rip once he’s got the wave). It took 6 trial versions to get the Chunky Monkey to where it is now and even Rod’s traded in his regular shortboard for one, although they surf it as thrusters while I prefer the reverse quad setup.”

Personal Info

Height: 5’6″
Weight: 80 kg
Surf Conditions: Mostly 3 to 6 feet
Style: Natural. Smooth to mild aggression. Love working the wave to build max speed for long floaters on rights and off-the-lip floaters on lefts.

Board Specs

Shape: Continuous Curve Shortboard
Length: 6’2″
Width: 19 3/4″
Thickness: 2 5/8″
Widest Point: Behind Centre
Nose Width: As recommended by shaper
Tail Width: As recommended by shaper
Rails: Domed, tucked under edge to hard edged
Rocker: Staged Curve
Nose Lift: As recommended by shaper
Tail Lift: As recommended by shaper
Bottom Contours: Single to Double Concave (Driver)
Tail Design: Rounded Square
Fin Positioning: Thruster with 5 fin slots for alternate Quad setup

Filed in: Surfing Trends | On: December 18th, 2008 | Comments: (12)
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If you watched the finals of the Vans Triple Crown 2008 Pipeline Masters contest, then you probably saw Kelly Slater’s stubby looking Al Merrick surfboard. I had heard the commentators talking about Kelly’s board, dubbed ‘Deep Six’, and how unique it was compared to most Pipe boards. His board reminded me of the boards I normally ride; flatter rocker, stubby nose, and slightly thicker and wider. Another odd part about his board was its round pin tail. was lucky enough to get their hands on the board and talk to Kelly about his new hybrid board. According to Kelly, he actually shaped his 5’11 x 18.5 x 2.5 Pipeline Masters winning board and did it while experimenting on the computer. He laid his Channel Islands 7’0 Step-up and 6’0 K-board on top of each other and blended the two together. The wide nose was the result of pushing the wide point forward which he claims helps him with late drops and helped him maneuver in the constantly shifting barrel at Pipe. He also added a bit more thickness and width to compensate for shorter length which helped him get into waves earlier and maneuver the board as only a smaller board could.

Another interesting aspect about this board was he pushed the fin placement up on his 5’11 like he would on a longer board while utilizing fins with more flex. According to Kelly, larger waves accommodate fins with more flex because the turns are longer whereas small waves require stiffer fins because you don’t have as much time to turn.

The amazing thing to me is that Kelly shaped this board by himself and actually one the biggest contest of the year on his prototype. He was actually planning to ride a 5’3 he shaped but broke that board a week before surfing in Micronesia! I would have loved to see him surf 8 foot Pipe on a 5’3! It’s a coincidence that I read somewhere that Al Merrick had been trying to push Kelly to start shaping boards…probably because Kelly has given Al a ton of feedback over the years and is very keen on details. Slater says he plans to keep working on his new boards all winter…who knows, we may see that board in surf shops next year. Congrats to Kelly, the greatest surfer of all time and future master surfboard shaper?

Filed in: Surfing Trends | On: August 4th, 2008 | Comments: (2)
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I normally ride nothing but twin fins but recently I’ve had the opportunity to try a bunch of quad fin boards. I’ve been pondering the question which works better: twin fins or quad fins? We can all agree that they both generate more speed than a thruster in average surf, but their turning is noticeably different. I’ve noticed that twin fins generally feel a bit looser than quad fins. While the quad fins have more drive and hold better than their twin fin counterparts, they seem to feel more ‘sticky’ in the lip and harder to release than twins or thrusters. I’m still on the fence whether I prefer twins over quads but I’m very curious to hear what other surfers have to say about the topic. Please vote for your favorite fin set-up below!




Filed in: Surfing Trends | On: December 17th, 2007 | Comments: (3)
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The sudden shut down of Clark Foam left many shapers and surfers wondering where their next blanks and surfboards would come from. The Clark monopoly made everyone comfortable, shapers and surfers alike riding traditional polyurethane (PU) boards and same basic design elements since the introduction of the three fin design in the early 80’s. Since Clark closed shop, there has been a serious push to take board design to the next level with new composite materials. Finally, shapers have broken out of their old ways and are now thinking progressively.


Surfing Magazine recently released statistics on the types of surfboards surfers have been ordering/buying. While traditional (PU) blanks are still the staple of many shapers, statistics show that non-traditional surfboards (sandwich molded, epoxy, composite, etc) are making their inroads into surfing. The breakdown is as follows:

P/U: 69.26% – While most shapers previously bought all of their foam from Clark, today, shapers are buying blanks from many different companies including US Blanks, Walker, Just Foam, etc. It seems as though a new foam company pops up every other month claiming their foam is top dog. PU blanks account for the large majority of surfboard due in large part to habit. Shapers have been working with PU for years and are comfortable working with it. That may all change in the future as materials are developed to perform and last better than standard polyurethane.

Sandwich Molded: 22.49% (Surftech, NSP, Placebo, etc) – Surftech’s Tuflite technology is the reigning king of sandwich molded pop-out boards due in large part to its efficient manufacturing plant and iconic shapers that produce pop-out epoxy versions of their top designs. These boards last a lot longer than epoxy and PU boards but lack the flex and springy feeling of traditional PU.

Epoxy: 6.1% (EPS, XTR) -� Epoxy surfboards didn’t catch on as fast as some shapers had hoped for after the shutdown of Clark. However, a few big name shapers in the likes of Rusty, Al Merrick, and Matt Biolos of …Lost are still pushing for epoxy’s future. While these boards float much better than PU boards but don’t hold up like sandwich molded boards, the jury is still out on this one.

Composite: 1.35% (Firewire, TL2, Aviso) – While this segment owns the smallest part of the surfboard market, the future of surfing is in high-end composites. Shapers have begun to unlock variable flexing patterns which were previously missing in composites. Materials are now providing a lot more flex to suit high performance surfing. For surfing to progress with the “New Millennials” surfing of Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith, their surfboard designs and materials will need to progress with their ballistic styles.

Filed in: Surfing Trends | On: December 13th, 2007 | Comments: (0)
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Most of us would like to think that our favorite pro surfer rides a particular board label (ala Al Merrick, Rusty, Firewire) because it gives he or she the best opportunity to win contests and surf at their optimal level. Put another way, pros only ride the best boards out there. Not so in the case of South Africa’s future World Champion Jordy Smith. The 6’2 200 lb surfing phenom has been seen surfing boards from some of the largest board manufacturers including Firewire, JS, and Al Merrick. Currently sponsorless, both clothing and board, (he’s waiting to see how much money he can get), Jordy has openly admitted that sponsorships are strictly business and who ever offers the largest contract will get the rights to this incredible talent. When he does decide on a board sponsor, you can be rest assured that he chose that particular board manufacturer because they have the biggest wallet.

I guess it’s quite naive for me to think that pros only ride the best surfboards available to them. Then again, if Costco offered me $1 million to ride their boards, I’d do it in a heart beat.

Filed in: Surfing Trends | On: December 13th, 2007 | Comments: (0)
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For all those surfers out there who have a keen interest in surfboard design, you’ll definitely want to get the January 2008 issue of Surfing Magazine. Regarded as 2008’s Surfboard Design Issue, this particular issue goes off on the future of shaping two years after Clark’s infamous closure. The magazine also sheds some light on exactly what types of surfboard materials surfers are actually buying, the pros of twin fins, an interview with shaper of the year Rusty Preisendorfer, and a sneak peek inside the Channel Islands/Burton secret surfboard lab. In my opinion this is one of the best board design issues I’ve read…go get one for yourself and see why.

Filed in: Surfing Trends | On: October 11th, 2007 | Comments: (2)
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While Hawaii is known for powerful gnarly surf during its winter months, most locals surf the weaker waves of Oahu’s south shore, which breaks consistently year round. Because the surf on the south shore is typically much weaker and smaller, I’ve realized that having fun on high performance shortboards (ala 5’11 x 18″ 3/16 x 2″ 3/16) is pretty much futile. On days when the surf is halfway decent, surf spots are normally clogged with a mixture of beginners and above average surfers, shortboarders and longboarders, and more increasingly SUPs (stand up paddle boards).

Lucky for us the retro revolution made fishes cool again and for this I am grateful. For the most part, I exclusively ride fish surfboards in all types of surf and conditions. On really tiny days, I take out a retro twin fin fish which features a flat rocker, thick rails, and wide tail. The extra width and thickness combined with flat rocker helps you push through the mush and soft/non-existent sections.

When the surf gets better, I ride a hybrid fish that’s slightly thicker and wider than my standard shortboard. Similar to the retro fish surfboard, this hybrid fish also features a flat rocker for improved wave catching ability. Add quad fins to that mix and you have a speed demon that can catch a million waves but still perform like a shortboard.

If you’ve been reluctant to ride a fish but have noticed a drop in your wave count or poor speed and wave catching ability at your� home break, I highly recommend you try one. Fish surfboards are normally shorter than your standard board which allows them to fit in the pocket quite nicely yet paddle better due to its flatter rocker. They generally perform the best in less than perfect conditions and can make bad days extremely fun.

Filed in: Surfing Trends | On: October 5th, 2007 | Comments: (2)
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I decided to listen to my own advice and try a 5 fin surfboard. I have been riding my TORE Rocket Fish (thruster setup) for a while now and have gotten very used to the board. It has performed well in a variety of conditions both weak and crumbly to overhead and sucking. I have noticed however, that in weaker mushier surf, the thruster had a tendency to bog on turns. It was as if the board used all its speed to complete a simple turn. After having a discussion with Kent Senatore of TORE Surfboards, I decided to try the quad. He absolutely loves his quad and the big difference he feels is how much faster the board works in weaker surf.

I was set to order a quad but one thing pondered in my head. Theoretically, I wouldn’t really have an even playing field for my thruster vs quad test if I got two different boards. All things being equal, no two boards is exactly the same no matter whether it is hand shaped or even machine cut. So I decide to have rear quad fins plugged into my current Rocket Fish.

I surf the board as a thruster for a while to get a good feel for its performance. On very small days it bogged and felt somewhat slow. However, when the waves picked up, it worked great, as would most performance boards in smaller crappier surf. We then had a run of small surf which I decided was the perfect time to test the quad out. I surfed it several sessions straight in less than idea conditions and was instantly hooked. This particular quad had its rear set of fins set slightly farther back than the standard quad Rocket Fish. This made it slightly less loose feeling but still required a bit of getting used to. On several occasions, I could feel the board slipping a little down the line and off the bottom, most likely due to my comfort with thrusters. However, once I got used to the board and it’s loose feeling, the board came alive with a lot more speed in smaller waves. I did a few snaps in waist high surf along with connecting round house cutbacks.


The end result? The quad is definitely faster in smaller surf and it responds faster on turns. In my opinion, as the waves get bigger, you’ll find that the thruster comes alive and performs just as well. When waves a bigger and faster, almost any surfboard will pick up speed. However, it’s in the small gutless waves where the quad shines and gives you an extra quick burst to make it around a section.