The Secret Ingredient that Makes an "Almond Ride Like an Almond"
We don’t talk outwardly about rocker profiles too often.
They are harder to show visually. They can’t be simplified to a single number or measurement. They can be confusing to customers who are less familiar with surfboard design.
And most importantly, our rocker profiles are one of our best-kept secrets.
- Surfboards are not completely flat like ironing boards. Rocker is the term used across surfboard design to describe the profile of the board.
- A board with a lot of rocker will be more maneuverable, but slower through the water.
- A board with a very low rocker will be faster through the water, but harder to turn.
One of the most underrated parts of surfboard design is crafting the right rocker profile for the optimal ride.
We have put as much R&D and testing into rocker profiles as any element of board design over the years. Part of the thing that makes an Almond ride like an Almond is the care and attention that we have put into our custom rocker profiles. This is true across our entire lineup of boards.
A rocker profile is a curve that extends from the tip of the nose through the end of the tail, and dictates how the board engages with the surface of the water. To get a true “rocker measurement” you would need dozens of points along a curve, spanning the entire length of the board. However, you will sometimes hear rocker measurements simplified to a single nose measurement and a single tail measurement.
Meaning: if you were to lay the board, bottom-side-down, on a perfectly flat surface, how much space would there be between the tip of the nose and the flat surface below. (And same thing for the tail). This gives a very basic picture of rocker of the board, enough to tell if the board is flat like an ironing board or curvy like the bottom of a rocking chair.
If you look at the rocker of a high-performance shortboard, you will likely see quite a bit of nose rocker and have much less rocker in the tail.
However, for our longboards specifically, We tend to employ a much lower and more gradual entry rocker, and a more pronounced “flip” in the tail. This difference of approach is why you will sometimes hear people refer to a longboard as having “reverse rocker”. Because from a shortboard-centric perspective, the rocker is “backward”.
The reason for our very specific rocker design, is this:
We want a low, gradual entry rocker for maximum glide across the surface of the water. (Think easy paddling, early-wave-catching, and effortless glide once you’re up and riding),
We pair that with a slightly more pronounced, shorter lift in the tail rocker (sometimes called “adding flip in the tail” which allows you (the rider) to rock you weight onto your back foot, lifting the nose of the board out of the water, and leaving only a small, curvy area of the board engaged with the water—essentially shortening the board to only the portion engaged with the water. This makes turning and much, much easier—even on big longboards.
The other benefit of a little flip in the tail rocker, is that it helps the board match the speed of the wave when you want to lock into the pocket, making for longer windows of opportunity for noseriding. That added curve of the tail rocker fits and matches the wave shape more readily, so the board tends to want to stay in the pocket, rather than out-run the wave.
Years ago, maybe 2012, we started shaping boards for an Australian surfer named Simon Patchett. He spent a few months on the first longboard that we sent him, and he liked it but didn’t love it. He came to the conclusion that the board was a little too fast for the punchier, more powerful waves that he regularly surfed. He was out-running the pocket when he wanted to stay nestled nicely in the sweet spot of the wave.
We started comparing notes about boards and wave types and quickly realized that the waves he was surfing in New South Wales packed a bit more power than the waves we were surfing here locally. So the tail rockers that we developed for Sano, Blackies, Doheny, Malibu and the like were too flat for the waves he was encountering most often. The charge was simple, rework the rocker to allow the board to more naturally match the speed of the wave.
Simple enough—we added extra tail rocker and worked up a dedicated “Australia Rocker Profile”.
The next board we sent to Simon was met with great enthusiasm. It maintained the paddling glide that he loved about the first board, but was now better suited for longer noserides at his local break.
This modified rocker profile allowed Simon’s board to more naturally stay put in the pocket, which as we established earlier, is the primary aim of riding a longboard.
Wonder what happened to our Australia Rocker Profile? We now use it on our Logistic Model. Which is why we advertise that as our noserider for punchier / hollower waves.
What About Flat Boards?
Around that same time period, 2010-11, we were building custom Sano Specials for Nathan Adams—with the exact opposite aim.
At that time, Nate wanted his boards to be as flat as possible. Being an incredibly talented surfer, Nate did not mind the extra footwork required to slow the board or redirect it, he just wanted a board that would slide across the surface of a wave with as little resistance as possible.
I just rewatched the first video edit we ever did with Nathan, and the flatness of the board is incredibly evident in the way he surfs and the way the board engages with the wave. Watching Nate ride these incredibly flat waves is a thing of beauty, it’s just hard for the average surfer to emulate:
Nathan Adams Introduction from Almond Surfboards on Vimeo.
So, where does that leave us now?
Well, we have spent the last 14+ years perfecting our ideal rocker profile.
The rocker profile that we employ on our longboard models (Surf Thump, Lumberjack, Walks on Water, Sano Special, Pinwheel) has been painstakingly developed for the perfect blend of effortless glide, control, and stability under-foot, and noseriding—and covers the widest array of wave types. Our Almond rocker profile provides the type of surfing experience that we want our customers to have.
As much as any element of board design, our rocker profile has as much to do with making an Almond ride like an Almond.