Sketch Models

Inverted Bat Tail

I designed, shaped and glassed this surfboard to maximize smoothness of ride and responsive turning.

During my time as an undergrad at Brown, I typically went home to Hawaii for the summers. Much of my family lives on the island of Oahu, including my older brother, a professional surfboard shaper specializing in classic longboards. I spent many hours assisting and observing him intently engaged in his work. With time, I learned to shape and glass on my own and found the entire process of creating a surfboard very rewarding.

Once I developed the skills to shape a standard shortboard, I decided to shape something new. I wanted this surfboard to be special, even innovative. At the time I decided to begin this project, many shapers in the surf industry were doing crazy, unconventional things with the tails of their surfboards. “The quad” fin configuration was gaining popularity, and it was discovered that the bat tail helped to optimize the performance of this particular fin setup. The bat tail looks like two scallops have been cut out from a flat edge, making the back end of the surfboard resemble the trailing edge of a bats wing. Other peculiar tails include the half-moon, star, twin diamond, chop and fang just to name a few.

In the summer of 2012, I started riding a round tail surfboard and found that I enjoyed the smooth line it draws across the face of a wave. The only shortcoming was that it was hard to change direction. Once I began to arc through a turn, there was a delay before I could get the board turning in the opposite direction. It didn’t roll from rail to rail (i.e. from one edge of the surfboard to the other edge) very quickly.

In contrast, surfboards with a fish tail (the tail of the board looks like a fish’s tail) are renowned for their ability to effortlessly switch from rail to rail and are capable of making very tight turns. I rode a fish tail board for a while and was very happy with it, but was bothered by one important thing: when initiating a turn, or changing direction, I could feel the points of the tail engaging the wave and releasing.  This meant that I could be making a long, drawn-out turn, then a corner of the tail would bite into the face of the wave, and suddenly I would be making a turn with a much tighter radius. It sometimes felt like the line I was surfing was choppy and unpredictable.

My solution was to combine the round tail and the fish. I believed that having a v-shaped cutout in the center would make rail-to-rail transition quicker and more responsive. Maintaining a rounded tail shape would provide that smooth, “flowy” feeling that I found so appealing about the round tail. What I ended up with was a board that looks like an inverted bat tail. The board performs very well and allows a surfer to tighten and open the arcs of his/her turns seamlessly and effortlessly.

Dimensions:  5’ 4”

Materials:  polyurethane foam, polyester resin

Date:  Winter 2013