You hear a lot about it these days but how important is the surfboard volume measurement? Pencilled usually after the more traditional measurements near the stringer on a modern shape volume was always there but very difficult to measure. That is until the advent of computer controlled shaping machines which were up to the task of performing the myriad calculations required to provide an accurate spatial measurement.
In the days when all were handshaped the size of a surfboard was designated by three main dimensions, length, maximum width and thickness. Three other dimensions were also employed usually by the shaper, not so often the customer and these were the widths at 12" back from the nose and 12" up from the tail as well as a tail pod width. Armed with these 6 dimensions and info on the surfers, weight, fitness and ability, a skilled shaper would go to work and generally come up with a suitable board for the customer that both floated sufficiently and also performed. In time a person would get a handle on their preferred dims but where things got sticky was the vast differences between shaping styles and designs. More specifically rail volumes. As thickness is measured as the maximum along the stringer line, a board say 2 1/4" thick with a flat deck and boxy rails will have way more volume than a board of the same thickness with a rolled deck and low, pinched rails.. Likewise one shaper might favour a thin, tapered nose and tail whereas another may lean more towards an even thickness distribution. So as you can see there can be huge differences in the actual size of varying shapes of the same measurements. Enter the modern shaping machine with its computational capabilities and both board builder and customer alike have ready access to another very handy dimension, the accurate measurement of volume. Once a surfer has an idea of their ideal volume in litres and selected the length and width of their preferred design it's a simple matter for the machine to cut a pre-shape at the required thickness to achieve the desired floatation. Be aware though that this new volume measurement isn't magic, it's not the be all and end all but should be treated as nothing more than another helpful tool aimed at getting the surfer on the most suitable equipment. The boards performance will ultimately come down to its design, the shapers knowledge and skills and where this newly measured volume is located. That's why you should always trust the production of your craft to someone experienced who really knows what they're doing as opposed to some newbie who's blindly piggybacking modern technology without a deep and intimate knowledge of the hows and whys of surfboard dynamics.
Cheers until next time. Stuey
June 06, 2019 — Stuart Campbell