Womens Boards

Womens Boards. (This was a diary entry from 5th June 2006)

Its tremendous to finally see increasing numbers of women learning to surf and getting amoungst it in the water.

However what's disturbing to me as a shaper is observing the rapid proliferation of surfboards supposedly designed specifically for women coming onto the market, which in reality are basically rubbish. How so?

Women have special needs in their surfboards: Because they are generally not as strong in the upper body as men, they need boards that paddle easier, yet because they are often lighter than us, this volume needs to be very thoughtfully integrated into the boards to allow easy duck diving/entry through the break.

Also, because they are often lighter, their boards need to be more responsive, which is achieved through altering fin locations, bottom contours and rocker, so that the boards can be turned more easily.

To a professional shaper, these specific aspects of design are obvious and should be built into such boards.

But what are women being offered? Mostly, conventional boards with some hibiscus artwork, or some big brand logos sprayed on, some catchy logos/bright colors to differentiate the boards from mens. Clearly, this is an insult to women surfers and highly unethical. Dressing boards up with graphics whilst ignoring fundamental design issues smacks of a "lets exploit this emerging market" mentality.

As the surfboard industry increasingly comes under the influence of the major clothing brands, this state of affairs appears likely to become the status quo.

So, ladies, as you search for your new boards, ask the shop people and shapers you deal with....why the boards they are showing you are suitable for you. Do their answers make sense to you? Ask more questions, and if possible, search with a knowledgeable friend. Trust your intuition.

Happy surfing.

Grant Miller.