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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Old enough to know better. Young enough to do it anyways.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Looking for Tail

Well, I may have moved in with my girlfriend, but it hasn't stopped me from looking for tail. In fact, since starting up a conversation with Erik Hakon Olson, it’s all I can think about. His question seemed harmless enough: "Are you really keen on a fish-tailed fish shape? There are some other options on the tail that we could try. For instance, I'm shaping myself a quad fin diamond tail fishy shape right now."

I realized I had no real idea of the difference between a swallow fish tail and a diamond tail. So I called my friend and resident surf expert, Chum. He said he didn't know either. We chatted on the phone and put forth some arm-chair theories: A diamond seems like it has the characteristics of a squash with the slight point of a pintail, whereas the swallow seems like it helps get into waves early, but also functions like a pintail down each point of the swallow. I felt like I was in high school physics trying to BS my way through a quiz. We may have had the general premise, but I'm sure we were way off on the finer points.

Fortunately, we're not shaping the board. I got an email back from Erik to set me straight: "The diamond tail template that you can find some examples of on my blog is fairly pulled in compared to something wider like a classic fish tail. So this will help the board go more "vertical" and surf off the back foot than the really wide ones [In my desperation to become a passably decent surfer, I told Erik I wanted to be able to go more vertical and surf off my back foot...I can dream can't I]. That being said, a fish tail with bumps starts to be more pulled in like this diamond tail is so it too will have a similar effect. So the choice in my mind is less about the specific tail shape (diamond, squash, rounded pin, etc.) and more about wide or more pulled in (my tails are all still somewhat wide. Certainly when you compare them to like a classic 70's single fin style shape). And you can do this with a smooth curve or with something with bumps. The board with bumps will have slightly more linear edge to break from the water, which will make it a bit looser. The transition is more "digital" and less "analog" if that makes sense (steps rather than smooth curves). It's still relatively smooth though."

I've come to realize through this process that I can talk a much better game than I can play. I can deliberate all day about the slightest nuances, but when it comes down to it I'm not sure if I could tell the difference between a quad fish and a redwood plank. Slight exaggeration, but only slightly. I need a lot more time in the water to fully appreciate a design as complex and finely tuned as one of Erik's boards. But I've always figured it's best to play up. At least I'll never be able to blame my equipment.

I know there are a lot of very knowledgeable people out in the wild, wild web. What do you think are the main differences between a swallow tail and a diamond tail?


Blogger Patch said...

G, some info I'll pass along:

Square tail: Provides the cleanest water release plus a corner that provides the best bite. The best drive is obtained with this shape.

Swallow tail: These tails when the tips are in the normal 4"-5" range will produce a very similar feel to the square tail. When they are very far apart, such as a FISH style, the outline becomes very straight and the drive is accented.

Squash tail: Is nothing more than a square tail with the corners rounded, thus softening the bite and drive of the square, but also making the turn a little smoother and tighter.

Diamond tail: This shape moves the release point forward, essentially shortening the outline and rail rocker. An even tighter radius turn is the result, but with a little less drive than the squash or square.

Pin tail: Has a continuous curve coming to a point at the tip. This shape has the easiest connection from front to back side turn but has the least drive.

11:07 AM  
Blogger G said...

I knew I could count on a little help from my blog boys. Thanks Patchy, that really helps. So essentially, if I went with a diamond I'd be gaining a tighter turning radius, but losing a bit of drive?

1:32 PM  
Blogger pushingtide said...

Cool shape. I was sooo close to shapin' my new fishy with a diamond tail, pulled in a tad to not have a fat booty on it....but I wussed out. Everyone told me "that won't work" "that would look strange" and "why?".

I am intrigued by what it would ride like with a diamond tailed fish. Next time.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Chum said...

Come to think of it, that's what sold me on the diamond tail (and center flex fin of the 2+1). The combo was supposed to provide a pivot point and also better tracking on more "critical" waves. I wanted something that would stick in the side of a steep wall better than my fishy tail...

10:05 AM  
Blogger G said...

Why'd people tell you it wouldn't work, PT? I'm very curious myself...I guess I'll be the crash test dummy...let you know what I find out.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mostly they said it won't work b/c of how it looked. Which is stupid. That is why I didn't believe 'em but I guess I did to a point b/c I didn't shape it!

Let us know your findings G.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Chum said...

I'm actually curious about how those more extended wings perform! They look really cool.

11:23 AM  
Blogger G said...

They look good...hopefully they'll surf good (the editor in me wants to change that "good" to "well" so badly)

1:21 PM  
Blogger J.P. said...

Eric's shapes are unique...and that's a good thing in this generic world.

9:35 PM  

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