Surfboard Rockers Explained

When a shaper goes to make a new board they generally think of it in multiple 2D steps, which eventually blend together to make the 3D object of a surfboard. Once an outline is chosen the next step in the 2D process would be to put the right amount of rocker into the board. While all of the elements that make up a surfboard are very important to how it will perform, a strong argument could be made to say that none are as important as the rocker of the surfboard. For those of you who don’t know, a surfboards rocker is the amount of curve that the board has from nose to tail along the stringer. The best way to measure this is by first getting a long straight edge what is longer then the board and will not bend or flex. A piece of metal corner molding from home depot will do this pretty nicely. With the surfboard bottom facing up you then put the straight edge on the center running parallel with the stringer and put a level on top of that to assure that your straight edge is flat. You then measure the space between the board and the bottom of your flat edge at various points along the board and that will be your rocker measurements. I think that most good shapers would agree that by changing these numbers as little as 1/8th of an inch can have a dramatic effect on how the board will feel when riding.

Surfboard rocker level
So now that you know how to find out your rocker numbers, what the heck does a surfboard rocker actually do? The basic idea of rocker is to match the curvature of your board to the curve of the wave face. A good rule of thumb is that a board with more rocker will have more lift, more drag and be better suited to steep waves with late take offs. A board with less rocker will give you less lift but will also have a lot less drag. In general, the flatter the rocker is, the faster that board will be but it will also be best suited for mellow waves and early take offs. But with all things on a surfboard you have a heavy give and take here. If you make the rocker too flat for a very fast board, the curve may not fit well in the types of waves you are trying to ride it in. This can cause you to dig the nose in and pearl on take off, or not being able to turn the board because there is not enough curve for the water to go along.

surfboard rocker

So now that you know how to find out your rocker numbers, what the heck does a surfboard rocker actually do? The basic idea of rocker is to match the curvature of your board to the curve of the wave face. A good rule of thumb is that a board with more rocker will have more lift, more drag and be better suited to steep waves with late take offs. A board with less rocker will give you less lift but will also have a lot less drag. In general, the flatter the rocker is, the faster that board will be but it will also be best suited for mellow waves and early take offs. But with all things on a surfboard you have a heavy give and take here. If you make the rocker too flat for a very fast board, the curve may not fit well in the types of waves you are trying to ride it in. This can cause you to dig the nose in and pearl on take off, or not being able to turn the board because there is not enough curve for the water to go along.

surfboard rocker

When I first got interested in surfboard design it was pretty eye opening to take some of my favorite boards and start measuring the rocker on them. Seeing which boards I preferred in different conditions and then comparing the numbers I could really start to see a pattern for what I liked, and when it would perform well. While it does take some time out or your day to start this process and build yourself a little database of numbers it can be hugely beneficial to you in finding your magic board. You can then go to your shaper and be pretty specific in how you want your next board to be and give him some good reference points on what has worked and not worked for you in the past. Like I said in the beginning of this the rocker is really the backbone of your board and the more you understand it the closer you will be to finding the perfect ride for yourself. If you have any other questions or would like to see what I am talking about in person please feel free to drop by the shop and ask.

One Response to “Surfboard Rockers Explained

  • The rocker is the bottom curve of the board from the nose to the tail. It is the curvature of the surfboard from a profile or side angle.  The basic reason for this curve is to fit the surface area of the board to the curvature of a wave face.  If your surfboard had a straight rocker, you are more likely to pearl when dropping into the steep part of the wave.

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