The curve of a surfboard is known as the “rocker”. The extent of the curve will dictate how the board handles on the waves and it’s something that you should pay close attention to when purchasing a surfboard.
What Does the Rocker Do on a Surfboard?
The idea of a rocker is that it allows the surfboard to fit into the curve of a wave. Waves are curved, not flat, and so if the surfboard is flat then there’s more chance of the nose dipping into the water and causing a wipeout.
Low Rocker Pros and Cons
Although there are clear benefits to having a curved board, a flat board or “low rocker” has some benefits as well.
A flat board has more surface area, which means that more of the board will be touching the water. It means that the board should move faster and offer the rider more stability.
The downside to a flat rocker is that the board will nosedive more frequently and may struggle to turn as sharply or as easily. These are key benefits for experienced surfers who need the sharpness provided by a high rocker.
High Rocker Pros and Cons
It’s much easier to turn on a board that has a high rocker. The board will feel much more agile and, as a result, it will be easier to ride over steep waves.
The downsides are that there is less surface area and more drag, reducing stability and speed.
Nose Rocker and Tail Rocker
The nose and tail of the board also have their own degrees of curvature, known as the nose rocker and tail rocker.
A higher nose rocker will help more when dropping into the curved face of a wave. A higher tail rocker can help to reduce nosediving as it gives the surface something to press on, lifting the nose in the process.
Which Rocker is Best for Beginners?
As a beginner, you should look for a flatter curve. You will benefit more from the increased stability than you will from the slight improvements in turning. You will also see some improvements in speed, although they are less important.
The flatter the rocker, the better. You don’t need to worry too much about the tail rocker and nose rocker.
Which Rocker is Best for Pros?
For a pro, the surfboard rocker should be much higher as they will need the additional turning ability. The extra stability is not as essential, and what they lose in speed they will make up for in agility and sharpness.