Don’t Underestimate the Rail
How do rails differ in structure? They say, “A bad workman quarrels with his tools”.
It should be mentioned that many beginning surfers have difficulties controlling their surfboards whereas experienced surfers in contrast to them would likely nail the wave to the wall riding the identical kind of board.
Or maybe they would not?
Surfers with extended experience are able to successfully use any kind of surfboard but they are usually the choosiest ones regarding their equipment.
Such people normally carry eight or nine surfboards with them as each kind of wave and different conditions require their own kinds of the surfboard.
And they also wish to use the surfboard that fits the current conditions. The majority of them belong to one of the following kinds: fish, step-up surfboard and normal short surfboard.
The variations in design features differ the most here.
You can see the rails going along the whole length of the surfboard. They are thicker in the middle and thinner closer to the front and rear parts.
The form depends on the kind of function on the surfboard.
It can help the surfer turn in the water, find the speed, and give more floating ability.
There is no one and only opinion as to which such planks fit perfectly these or those conditions but by and large, we can find two kinds of their styling: hard and soft.
The first one is called “a down rail”. It is edgier, hangs down more, and there is a corner between it and the bottom.
As opposed to it, a soft rail has a rounded shape without hard corners. The line between the rib and the bottom of the surfboard glides very smoothly.
How well it works
The short surfboards function better with hard rails. It takes less effort to dip into the water with them.
Thanks to them, the surfboard becomes faster and more maneuverable due to the fact that hard edges (particularly, in the rear part) make water leave the planks of the surfboard immediately.
In case the surfer is so willing to make use of these ribs instead of the fins, it will take more time for certain kinds of turns.
The disadvantage of the hard rails is that central turns require more effort.
You will see the true value of such a kind riding high, big, and steep waves. Thanks to these hard ribs, the surfboard becomes stable even at a high speed.
The main principle here is that the planks must be thicker and softer in the middle and finer and harder in the front and the rear parts of the surfboard. This is done to get higher speed and some kind of better performance.
Soft rails, on the contrary, are normally used on longboards or shortboards but for smaller kinds of waves. With them, the surfer has a smaller chance to “get stuck” in a wave.
The drawback is that they are not so easy to maneuver in turns due to the high drag.
But the good thing is that the turning radius of the fin can be fully enjoyed. Lower surfboards become lighter and faster in turns.
Thanks to soft and full rails, the surfer can catch more waves and have the same kind of speed on the surface of the wave.
Whereas it is not so easy to sink such planks, the possibility appears to store energy when you are turning and to further release this kind of energy (this is generally called drive).
The greatest part of the surfers prefers the middle way when it comes to rails.
The medium rib has the positives of both kinds mentioned and makes the downsides hardly noticeable. It will give you a higher speed when the waves are steep.
Moreover, the surfer is able to be more creative with the fins in the kind of waves that are not very steep. Turning is much easier and quite stable with this kind of rails.
A rounded rail with a corner pushed under is the most popular kind. It gives release and you can surf smoothly.
Kinds of Rails:
- Rounded Rail — is in the shape of a crescent
- Down Rail — is edged in the bottom part of the surfboard
- Rolled Rail — is rolled under the surfboard
- Egg Rail — a kind of rounded rail but the shape is more egg-like
- 50/50 — has the touching point of the upper part and the bottom part in the center
- 60/40 — like the previous one but the touching point is found a bit off the middle, at the bottom of the surfboard.