Design Concepts, as seen by LMVogue
Transitional Rails: Transitional rails essentially have rounded surfaces through the
leading third / half of the board, gradually transitioning to a standard "hard" configuration through the rear
of the board.
The concept behind this is simple - rounded rails pass through the water easier than standard "hard" rails,
but, in the bodyboard's current incarnation, it is necessary to have "hard" rails to maintain an edge.
The transitional rail is a compromise - rounded through the leading edges, giving smoother water entry and
less drag, then transitioning to hard through the rear to enable the board to maintain an edge.
However, due to manufacturing methods, transitional rails are rare and costly, as they are difficult and
time-consuming (in comparison with a standard rail) to produce.
Future Considerations: Edge Status
An area which has been neglected in board design is that of bottom edges. By taking a page from
surfboard design theories, it is possible to increase the bodyboard's performance, possibly quite markedly, by
focusing attention on the meeting of the rails and bottom, and it's effect on water flow.
The principles are similar to those discussed above, but on a smaller scale. Essentially,
rounded, or "soft" edges produce less drag, whilst "hard" edges are necessary to enable "biting", hard turns.
There are many more factors that must be considered, but this can give a basic understanding of
how performance may be improved by fusing all these factors correctly into a single design.
Another edge design which may prove interesting is the "tucked hard". Essentially this consists
of a "soft" edge with a "hard" edge positioned slightly up the rail (see diagram for clarification).
What this can produce, if designed correctly, is a much looser rail, whilst still providing a biting
A possible apllication for these different edges in bodyboard design is this: Use a soft edge to
around halfway down the board (reduce drag in non-critical areas), then harden the edge down to a few inches
from the tail (increase bite through critical turning surfaces), then transition to a tucked hard edge through
the last few inches (give better rail-to-rail turning through the tail)
Pretty much neglected until fairly recently, the tail is one of the major determining factors of a board's
performance / characteristics. It is one of the main reasons why "standard" boards are shorter than
they were a few years ago - it may be found that a 41.5" board with a high-volume tail in fact has the same
surface area as a 43" board with a deep, full crescent tail.
There are several tail parameters which need to be observed - volume, flow, control, and functionality,
each of which interact to give an overall effect.
Volume interacts with board length and width to give overall planing surface. High-volume tails,
such as square, rounded-square, and most bat-tails, mean you can afford to lose a bit of length or width (as
far as planing surface is concerned). A high-volume tail should mean a shorter or narrower board
will glide as well as a longer or wider low-volume-tailed board.
Flow and control are closely related. Think about how the water will leave the tail of your
board - this will effect how your board reacts, how much control (or lack of) it will have.
Last, but definitely not least, is functionality. The ultimate shape and contour of your board's
tail should focus and amplify your riding style, not hinder it.