As surfboard designs in general have multiplied over the years, tail design has become increasingly more complex. Innovations have come a long way since 1937, when John Kelly narrowed the wide end of his redwood plank board with an ax to create the first gun-like tail and prototype of future big-wave guns.
Tail designs work together with the shape of the board, the surfer’s individual aspects, such as size and ability, and, the type of waves. The tail directly influences the board’s hold and release on a wave’s surface.
The Swallow Tail—just one type of “split tail” design—is one of the most popular (yet often underrated) designs today. It provides more tail area from rail to rail, enabling superior planing speed and lift—ideal features for paddling power and increased drive in smaller waves. The vee shape with its pronounced points allows more control in critical maneuvers, and is a great choice for surfers who need a board that sticks during deep mid-face carves and radical turns.
Demand in the mid-70s for shorter, more maneuverable boards and better designs for small wave riding brought out the split tails. Our PatentWear design, featuring the Swallow Tail Surfboard design patent granted to Michael Slingerland in 1981, typifies the standard hotdog type board that dominated the era, and contributed to today’s finely-tuned tail variations for every condition and level of ability.