Volume and thickness


OTF status
Jan 12, 2009
Repost from a friend on FB: "What are your opinions on prone board volume for small waves? I’m 180lbs, learned on the Armstrong 4’11” at 38L and HS1550. Really like the board but starting to get doubles and triples and looking for something a bit shorter for more pump... but also don’t want to give up any ability to paddle onto small waves. A shorter board with more volume seems like the logical choice but I’m interested to hear feedback on what the “cost” is for more volume? Has anyone out there had a short board they felt had too much volume? I’m curious why we don’t see more boards in the 4’- 4’6” range with 45L+ "

Curious what the hive-mind on here thinks. I just made a 5' wingboard, with 5.5" thick, it has enough volume to float me for knee starts (maybe 70L), but once riding it feels like my surf foil. So can a similar principle apply in a surf foil board? If you had a 4' board but made it 4" thick, would you get paddle-ability of a 5' board but the responsiveness of a smaller board? Or do you end up with a franken-board that does well at neither? I am sure there's tradeoffs where marginal benefit decreases....e.g. if twice the thickness is twice as good, 5x the thickness won't be 5x as good, as a foot thick board won't work. ;-)

Jan 22, 2005
Volume distribution is the Holy Grail of shaping. There are a bunch of shapes running around my beach - lot of innovation from Glenn Pang, different sizes from John Amundson, and a few underground shapers (me and others). For my boards, I've gone down as far as 4'6" at 3.75" and that felt skinny. My normal board is a 4'10" at 4.5". About 8 months ago the crop of board with the deep "bounce back" chines cut out were all over the beach - lately the chines have been getting fuller again so the boards can stay shorter and the non-teenagers among us (the guys who can buy these boards) can actually paddle them out and into waves.

At the end of the shaping/glassing process, boards have to function first and foremost - then they have to have an aesthetic to them (otherwise it won't see the light of day right???) - my personal opinion is somewhere between 3.5" and 5" with the bulk of the volume in the back half of the board (depends on the build of the foiler - lighter and you can go thinner) gives you both function and eye pleasing looks.
Mar 22, 2020
I think thickness and volume is not the only thing for a good paddling board, the shape of the board is also important (despite what some people think...).
Too thick and you loose so much sensation and control because too much foam between your feet and the foil.
Too wide and it actually can makes it less stable while flying and you loose so much during turning.

So the best is a good combination between outline/shape, dimensions.
For exemple, double concave can help early lift and it is more forgiving for touch down (well not for sure about that at least with small board) but you loose some volume. So now I have a 4'6 with double concave and a 4'2 without.
Concave deck is a good option, the thicker rail add more floatation and super nice feeling while paddling (you are so locked in that it makes easier to powered your paddling) but without too much volume and especially too much thickness under your feet.

Once again, foil board is not only a piece of foam with lamination with fin box.