PARTS OF THE BOARD AND WHAT
Deck- The top of the
board where you lay.
Slick bottom- The bottom
of the board that has a smooth or slick material such as Surlyn
Nose- The front of the
board where you hold on.
Rail- The side of the
board. Often the rail of a board is expressed as a ratio such
as 50/50 or 60/40, etc. The theory is that a 50/50 rail is
faster but a 60/40 offers more control. Most companies now
make their boards with 60/40 as the standard ratio. I personally
think that there is very little difference between the two
and both work very well on any board. Some boards have single
rails and some have double rails. The inner rail piece is
referred to as the "pin" on our website. Double
rails add more stiffness to the board.
Tail- The back end of
the board. Click here to see tail types.
areas on the bottom of the board that help to channel the
water to enhance performance. There are MANY channel configurations
out there, and basically, they help you hold on the face of
the wave better and enhance speed, but can decrease maneuverability,
ALTHOUGH when combined with certain tail designs and templates
can work perfectly and be very maneuverable. Especially effective
in this respect with bat tails. Crescent
tail boards don't necessarily need channels, but some
people prefer them even with this tail type for that extra
Stringer- Now offered
by most manufacturers, stringers made a brief appearance in
the 80's, and are very popular once again. It's basically
a straight rod inserted into the board to maintain the stiffness
of the board. They can be made of many different materials.
Lengthens the life of the core.
Mesh- A chicken wire-like
plastic material sandwiched into the core of a board to enhance
projection and durability. This material is only used by a
couple manufacturers as an alternative to stringers.
Template- This term refers
to the basic shape or outline of the board (ie: narrow nose,
wide nose, etc.).
Chine- This is the part
of the board's rail that wraps over the side of the board
from the deck. It's usually much smaller than the bottom part
of the rail.
Rocker- Not technically a "part of the board",
the rocker refers to how flat a board is. Example...if you
lay the board flat on the ground, and it doesn't rise up at
all in the tail, it has "flat rocker". Naturally,
the nose curve is going to keep the nose off the ground, but
the tail on most production model boards should be flat on
the ground and the board shouldn't "rock" more than
just a little bit. The more "banana-like" the curve
in a board, the more rocker it has. I personally like about
1" to 1.5" of rocker in my boards because they turn
better, and it works well for me for dropknee, but 95% of
all bodyboarders prefer flat boards because they provide the
maximum speed. With that said, the rocker of a board will
change as it ages because of the different materials that
are used on the deck vs. the bottom. Deck skins tend to expand
faster with age, and therefore will cause a flat board to
end up with a touch of reverse rocker in many cases. Heat
accelerates this process, so keeping your board in a cool
place when not in the water is the best defense for this problem.
Bat Tail- A tail shape
that slightly resembles the wingspan of a bat. There are many
varieties of bat tail, but basically, there are points at
either end of the tail, with some form of rounded or pointed
area in the center of the tail. Bat tails are generally loose,
and provide lots of maneverability. These tails are preferred
by most prone riders. If you like doing lots of maneuvers
tight in the pocket and prone ride alot, go for a bat tail.
There are many marketing names for bat tails including "wing"
tails, etc., but they are all varieties of the bat tail.
Tail- First introduced by Morey in 1982, this is a tail
that holds you well on the wave. The design has square "pegs"
on either side of the tail, and a "U" shape connecting the
pegs. The crescent holds your body on the board and holds
you on the wave face very well. If you don't like channels,
this is a good tail design. The crescent is the call for full-time
DK riders or prone riders that are interested mainly in tube-riding
and carves, and not quite as much about spinning moves tight
in the pocket. It provides maximum hold, but doesn't release
quite as easily as a bat tail if you like to spin.
TYPES and BOTTOM SKIN TYPES
Crosslink- A type of
foam characterized by it's denser, more compact feel, and
unwillingness to absorb water. Very durable deck and rail
foam material. It is known by other names that companies use
to make it sound exciting (ie: Green Cell, Dura Deck, etc.).
Arcel- Developed for
bodyboards in the mid-80's, this is a light, strong foam used
for bodyboard cores. It's properties included maintaining
it's stiffness even in warm waters. The downside was the ease
with which it dented when you squeezed it. The manufacturer
of Arcel, Arco Chemical, has stopped producing it due to lack
of demand. It's pretty much been replaced by Polypro (see
Polypropylene- The newest
wave of core material. Polypro is light, springy, and strong.
Like every core though, it's not uncreaseable and it is the
most expensive of all cores. Many companies use their own
names for it. In most cases, it's just polypro.
It comes in two types. Extruded polypro is made from
strands of polypropylene and offers very good projection and
durability in the board. Beaded polypro is a step up
and is extremely lightweight, durable, water-resistant, and
as a result, expensive, but you get what you pay for.
Dow or Polyethylene-
Used to make bodyboards since the 70's, it's still the standard
foam. It's compact and comes in different densities, and has
excellent projection and super performance, but isn't as long-lasting
as polypro unless combined with some kind of internal stiffener
like mesh or a stringer, and is also a bit heavier than Polypro.
It's used on the deck and rails of most bodyboards as well.
Invented by chemical giant Dupont, it's the stuff golf balls
are covered in, and many bodyboards have on the bottom. It's
slick and durable, has great speed and projection.
High Density Polyethylene looks and feels very similar
to Surlyn, but it's not as flexible as Surlyn. It performs
very well, but keeps the cost of the board down. Most bodyboarders
wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT BODYBOARD SHAPES
As a general rule of thumb, most prone riders prefer a board
with a wider nose (something more than 11" wide on a
41" or longer board). A classic prone shape will also
have a higher wide point meaning the Nose To Widepoint measurement
is going to be a lower number. The theory is that you are
pivoting from your elbows and shoulders, which of course are
further up the board.
The average dropknee rider prefers a narrower-nosed board
with a lower widepoint since the bulk of their weight is further
back on the board. If you ride both styles, something in between
will work. Generally, dropkneers prefer crescent tail boards,
and prone riders do better on bat tails, but if you do both,
it's your choice.
HOW A BODYBOARD IS MADE
|Step 1: The first step is to gather the materials. Bodyboard
companies buy these materials generally from the same
place, and they buy in large quantities. Rolls of "PE"
(polyethylene) or "Crosslink" foam, stacks of
core blanks in either Dow or Polypro.
|Step 2: The tools to make the board are fairly common
in the bodyboarding industry. A laminator to heat-laminate
the deck and bottom skins to the core, knives to hand-cut
the rail and tail pieces of foam, a heat gun to laminate
the rail and tail piece to the core, and an asbestos glove
and a bucket of water to wet the glove for use with the
|Step 3: Specific bodyboard models have pre-cut templates.
These templates are typically made of wood and are exactly
the shape that has been designed by the company and/or
rider who's name is on the board. The foam core, which
starts as a rectangle roughly 48" long and 24"
wide is cut to shape using that wooden template and a
very sharp knife. Once the outline of the board has been
cut, they use special angled knives to cut the chine and
rails in one sweeping motion, as well as the nose and
tail. Some companies use computer-programmed shaping machines
to cut these parts of the core, but most still use real
|Step 3 1/2: If the board has a stringer, it is placed
on a specially-built table with clamps. At one end of
the table, there is a drill and a LONG drill bit pointed
right at the tail of the board. A lever is pulled and
the drill bit cores out a tunnel directly through the
tail up into the core of the board. The drill is removed,
and a stringer is placed into the tunnel.
|Step 4: A specially-designed laminator is heated up
to a desired temperature, and two people hand-feed the
shaped core through it with the bottom skin. The laminator
heats the backing on the slick skin as well as the core
so that it "melts" slightly. As the two pieces
feed through, they are pressed together before the foam
cools. This forms a heat lamination of the bottom skin
to the core. That is left to cool for about 20 minutes,
and then it is fed through again, this time with the deck
skin. Now you have a shaped core with both bottom and
deck skins laminated to it. The excess is trimmed off
to the shape of the board with sharp knives.
|Step 5: Once the core has cooled, it's time for the
rail and tail pieces. Large rolls of foam are cut into
strips. The board builder takes the asbestos glove and
dips it in a bucket of water, then fires up the heat gun,
which resembles an industrial-strength hair dryer. He/she
then takes the rail piece and places it on the rail of
the core, and points the heat gun at the rail, starting
from one end and moving toward the other. All the while,
he/she keeps the heat gun pointed at the interface between
rail piece and core so as to slightly melt that area making
the two stick together. The wet glove pushes that rail
piece down onto the core to ensure a solid bond, and it
keeps the board builder's hand from becoming liquid! If
this step is done correctly with both rails and the tail
piece, there will be consistent lamination from nose to
|Step 6: The rail and tail pieces are now trimmed with
a sharp knife, and the rough edges are once again wet
gloved to seal any open cells along the seams of the board.
|Step 7: The board is now placed under a stamping machine
with a colored mylar sheet on the deck. The company's
logo, engraved in steel, is heated up, and stamped onto
the mylar, leaving an imprint of the logo/logos on the
deck. The board is then shrinkwrapped with sticker/poster,
etc. and is boxed up for shipping.
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