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Wave Face Shapes And Why They Matter To You

Wave Face Shapes And Why They Matter To You

We talk so much about wave heights, but the shape of the face of a wave has every bit as much to do with your surfing—and your surfboard selection—as the size does.

The steeper the wave is, the more power it provides.  Simple enough. 

Here's Edward Swanson on a peaky, little wave in West Newport:

Even though this wave isn't particularly big, it has a nice tall face on it, which would allow smaller boards to be ridden.

Steeper faces like this allow you to surf a narrower board, because that wave has no trouble providing ample energy to push you along.  You want a narrower board when surfing steep waves, because you are prioritizing maneuverability to draw the line you want to draw.

The softer or rollier a wave is, the wider your board needs to be, to harness enough energy to push you along. 

Some of our especially wide-tailed surfboards, like the Sea Kitten and the Secret Menu, are designed to harness as much of the energy of a softer, rollier wave—while maintaining the smallest overall size possible.

Obviously, width is not the only contributing factor to harnessing the power of a wave.

I really like these first-person and following perspective photos from Alex Swanson, to get a better sense for the shape of a wave face.  Below is A. Swanson riding a 6'6 Pleasant Pheasant in Newport:

Mid-lengths offer a nice blend of longer-board energy harnessing with smaller-board maneuverability.  

Which is probably why they have made such a resurgence in popularity.  It's tough to beat the versatility of a well-balanced mid-length.

The same rules of narrow versus wide still apply to longboards.

Narrower-noses hold better in steeper sections, whereas wider noses provide more stable gliding in flat sections and in softer waves.

Here's Greg Swanson riding a 9'2 Surf Thump on a nice, long-running right point:  

This wave packs a little more punch, so it's better suited for narrower-nosed longboards like the Surf Thump, Cash-Yew II, or Pinwheel.

Finding the right match between surfboard, surfer, and wave can be a beautifully thing:

If you have questions about your home break and which style board we recommend, don't hesitate to chat with us or shoot us an email.

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