How Surfboard Tail Shapes Affect Performance

Posted date: 07-April-2022

Are you looking to improve your surfing performance? Having the right board and shapes can make all the difference to your surfing ability.

The most important part of the surfboard is the tail. It is the part of the board you turn off and therefore determines manoeuvrability and therefore, performance.

The manoeuvrability of the board is referred to as how “loose” or “tight” (“stiff”) the board is. Generally the more area in the tail (i.e. the wider the tail), the easier the board will turn. This is because there is more surface area in contact with the water.

Turning ability is also affected by the type of fins and their placement on the board.

There are 6 main tail designs. Fish tail, round tail, rounded square tail, swallow tail, rounded pin tail and pin tail.

In larger surf, you would probably want more stability and therefore have a tail that is tighter (pin tail). In large surf, you are dropping down big waves and moving faster. The narrowness of the tail will also help to hold the fins in the water.

In smaller surf, the water is not moving as fast allowing you to have more control over the board. You may prefer to have more manoeuvrability and hence have a looser tail shape. e.g. round tail, swallow tail.

The photo’s of the different types of tails shown here, rate the looseness of the tail. The fish tail is the loosest with the pin tail being the tightest.

With each of these tail shapes, you can also have a wider or narrower tail which will further affect performance (manoeuvrability).


Fish tail (rating 1 most loose)
Round tail  (rating 2)
Rounded square tail (rating 3)
Swallow tail (rating 4)
Rounded pin tail  (rating 5)
Pin tail (rating 6 – least loose – tight)




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