5 June, 2014 5 June, 2014

The Shape of Things

They are the cornerstone of surfing’s foundation and without their knowledge and expertise passed down through the generations, we’d still be riding on little bits of wood or whatever else we could find that floated.


From the very earliest records of surfing, shapers have been tweaking the profiles, plan-shapes and materials used to offer us the best possible ride upon which to master the waves. As shapers refine the subtleties that make a perfect board, surfers have pushed the boundaries of what’s possible on a wave. This has allowed the ‘sport’ to advance to its current modern state of radness.

While digging through the archives this week we found the articles below, which throw some past-time perspective on this often unappreciated trade.

This week we throw you back to Zigzag Vol. 4 #1 and #2 (1980) (click images to view larger)


“Twin fins are definitely the hottest 6′ and under boards around at the moment. Size varies from 5’6″ to 6’2″, winger diamond tail, 20.5″ – 21″ wide with a clean fast bottom, a strong V starting from the centre and reaching a peak between the fins, fading to the tail” explained legendary KZN south coast shaper, Peter Maisch, when asked to describe the most high-performance board of that era in our article titled ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ (see above).

In the article below called ‘Cape Shapes’, we see an indication that each shaper likes to do things their own specific way. While describing his ideal board, Andy Spengler claimed that “personally I like the unbroken lines like a rounded pin tail. I know stingers and wingers work, but personally I like unbroken lines.” On the contrary, Larry Levin then describes his appreciation of broken lines in his profile. “I’m into wingers,” he claims. “It’s the first time I’ve had a board that’s that short, that holds in that well and that goes that fast and planes that well…and that’s the wingers.”

It’s clear that individual preferences can influence the type of boards a shaper produces, so it’s up to us to discover which shaper it is that matches up best for our style of surfing.


At that stage, with Mark Richards on his way to claiming his second of four world titles, the twin fin was the bees knees. “The only limitations I have right now are me, not the board” said Mark of the twin fins he was riding to victory in the early 80’s.

Check out the article below about the twin fin, which was taking the world by storm in the early 80’s.


Of course, with the invention of the thruster we’ve now learned that three is probably better than two, but four is also pretty good as well. It’s great that we have the choice, and that through constant progression we have come to understand what works best for when.

We’ve started a new video series called ‘One Board With…’ in which we get in the bay with one of our country’s master craftsman and talk about board design. For our first instalment, we headed up the KZN north coast to chat with Johno Hutchinson. Check it out below.


  1. bad vis com!
    5 June, 2014 at 3:40 pm · Reply

    Cool idea, bad execution. Same as your mag layout. hire some talent!

    • Zigzag1976
      5 June, 2014 at 4:32 pm · Reply

      Thanks for the feedback.

  2. anti moaner
    6 June, 2014 at 3:24 pm · Reply

    If you click on the images they come up as full screen, do you want some cheese with your wine?

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