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Surfboard volume - How much volume should my board have?

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This week I'm going to have a little talk about the mind boggling 'volume' in surfboards!

It's quite a strange thing, volume in surfboards. Some surfers can tell if a board is big enough or has enough float for them just by picking it up and having a good old feel. And there are also guys and girls out there that just buy a board and then find out that it's either too floaty or they're sat up to their necks when they're in the lineup.

I get asked quite regularly 'how much volume does this board have?' 'how much volume should I go for?'  and to be honest, at times it's a difficult thing to go through, not so much with the more advanced surfers but with the intermediate surfers who are coming down in board size. There are so many variants that can effect the overall volume in a surfboard such as the fullness of rails, nose width, thickness, tail width, and the overall spread of foam across a surfboard. Subtle changes in shapes, rails and thicknesses can make huge changes to the volume.

Too much volume in surfboards isn't all that bad, compared to too little volume. Having too little volume can have a pretty bad effect on your surfing, causing you to catch rails and you end up struggling to paddle the board to catch waves and it pretty much takes the fun out of the surfing experience. Having volume in the right places can have some great benefits, especially for you guys and girls out there that haven't necessarily been surfing for too long. Volume in the right places can help with paddling, which means you catch heaps more waves per surf. However having too much volume can also have pretty negative effects, it can make the board feel too floaty and unresponsive, making it harder to do turns. Less turns are better than less waves though, right! So all these combined means that exact volume of the surfboard is difficult to calculate, but getting it right will make your surfing much more rewarding. 

It varies that much, that sometimes you can have two boards that are exactly the same dimensions, for example you could have two boards  5'10 x 18 1/2 x 2 1/4, one board could have 26L of foam and the other 24L. This could be down to a simple thing such as rail thickness, or thickess distribution throughout the board. So there are many things to consider when you are looking at a new board, especially when you are buying stock boards off a rack. If you're ordering a board from a shaper, just check with them that the board isn't going to be too floaty, or not buoyant enough. Speaking to them about your weight, surfing ability and how you found your previous boards (if you've surfed before), will give them enough information to make a good decision. There's a graph on volume later in this article for those that can't get to a shaper for advice. 

If you're getting a board custom made for you, more than likely these days the guy shaping it will design your new weapon on AKU shaper or one of the other shaping programs out there. These programs are amazing. They can tell you exactly how much volume the board has by taking into account the exact board shape and dimensions and calculating it for you.


So, first thing you can do when working out the right volume for your new board, is find out how much volume your current board has. Don't be afraid to ask, that's what the shaper is there for. If you know the amount of volume there is in the board you're riding, it makes it much easier when ordering a new board as you can up the volume or take away the right amount depending on what you started of with and how you want the new board to respond compared to your old board.

Another option, although you're relying on your shaper's knowledge, just tell him how heavy you are, they can normally give you a guideline of the volume you should have in a board. There is a graph below to give you ideas of good weight vs volume ratio. For example, my weight varies a little from 11 1/2 to 13 stone, my average board volume is 25 to 27 litres. Any more and the board feels too corky, any less and and it feels a bit too small!

Volume changes drastically according to shape, meaning it's a tough topic to give lots of detail about, as even changing a board by 1/8 of an inch changes the volume alot.

The graph below is awesome, as far as explaining volume goes. It's perfect for working out how much you should roughly have for your weight....



To top it off, as far as wondering how much volume stock boards have, sometimes it can be hard to tell. These days, boards in surf shops have their dimensions clearly marked, along with the volume. All I can really say is, if you're still unsure, just ask... best thing you can do. Or, if the shop can't tell you, and you're not confident trying to work it out (google 'calculating volume' for the technical mathematics on it all, you'll see it can be quite tricky measuring board volume), ask a shaper, or someone you know that's really into their boards, they will help you work it out.....

Saying that, you can comment on here and I will help you out as best I can...



Photos by Filipp Nekhaev and Martin Schmidli


Last modified on
in Surfboards, what does what?


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