Strange, unique, and downright ugly surf designs are kind of my thing. As a painfully inexperienced backyard shaper, I find that weird shapes based on archaic or even unproven surfboard design principles provide interesting perspectives and renewed stoke for riding waves. So it stands to reason that the recent surge in interest generated by asymmetrical surf designs has got me excited. While the aesthetic imbalances of an asymmetrical board might be enough to turn off the more OCD-leaning surfer, the design principles make sense. We surf completely differently frontside than we do backside. Shouldn’t a board’s design reflect those differences in ways that enhance our overall surfing experience in either direction?
To their credit, there are several shapers and surfers taking a chance on asymmetrical shapes to see if there really is something behind the “function over fashion” ethos. Guys like Donald Brink, Ryan Burch, Paul Finley, Matt Parker, and Tim Bessell are building and riding asymmetrical boards for the simple fact that they work. The principles behind asymmetrical surf design basically involve the toe-side edge of a surfboard having a longer, straighter outline and a large, single fin. The heel-side edge is shorter and curved, and will sometimes feature two smaller fins similar to a quad configuration.
In reality, these asymmetrical surf design principals are nothing new. Introduced in the late 1960’s by board design pioneer Carl Ekstrom, the idea behind an asymmetrical surfboard was born out of Ekstrom’s desire to surf his native Windansea equally well frontside and backside. By combining the rail profiles, board outlines, and fin placements of two different boards – one working better frontside, the other shining on the backside – Ekstrom created the foundation for an entirely unique surfboard design trend. For anyone who is drawn to off-the-wall shapes and surf designs that challenge the norm, asymmetrical boards are definitely something to look into.