Surfboard shapers have predominantly strived for symmetry in their shapes, to allow for fluid and dynamic rides.
However, as shaping technology has increased, more and more surfboard shapers are beginning to express themselves in their work with creative freedom.
Asymmetrical boards may look a little funky from afar, but when tailored to your specific style of surfing, they can drastically change and improve your surfing experience!
Photo: Shawn Parkin
What is an Asymmetrical Board?
An asymmetrical board can be defined in simple terms just by its name. These types of boards are unproportional and lack symmetry.
They are handcrafted and custom made for specific surfers wanting to tailor their boards to make them more personalized.
To some others surfers, these boards may seem uneven and hard to balance on because of these alterations.
However, other surfers see these changes as improvements that better their surfing.
Pros to Riding Asymmetrical Shapes
Shortened Heelside Rail
When you lean forward on your board, all the weight is transferred to your toes, making turns on your toeside much easier to perform.
To make heelside turns just a bit easier, many asymmetrical board shapers will shorten the heelside rail.
This allows you to make the same turns as on your toeside, but without squating and applying so much weight on your back foot.
Since shortening a heelside rail will ultimately result in an uneven tail, this is another feature you will commonly see in asymmetrical boards.
This design takes away the amount of pressure required to engage your rail on these turns.
While it may take a bit of time to get used to, many surfers say these designs allow them to have much better turns on both their toe and heelside.
As you look at an asymmetrical boards fin set up, it is more likely than not that there will be one fin placed on the toe-side, and two fins then on the heel-side. This setup is known to feel pretty similar to riding a twin fin board.
Cons to Riding Asymmetrical Shapes
For some, riding an asymmetrical board can be difficult to get used to. If you have surfed traditional high performance boards all your life, going left and right on the same style of rails gets pretty comfortable.
With this being said, some people don’t want to steer away from what they know and what has worked best for them in the past.
Popular Asymmetrical Board Shapers Today
Burch first became popular for his self-shaped boards and untraditional designs after the 2015 release of the surf film Psychic Migrations.
In this film he was shown riding a variety of his own boards in sets of perfect waves. His most popular shape of board is called the Squid Fish.
This board was one that he could be seen surfing most often in the surf film, which caused the orders to quickly roll in with requests for people to get that same board for themselves.
Today, Burch is still experimental with his board outlines and is shaping surfboards that may seem a little wonky, but are surprisingly efficient for surfers that they are specifically designed for.
Matt Parker is one of the head shapers over at Album Surf.
Parker's goal is to create boards that are unique and don’t look like they would be sold in any typical surf shop, but are able to perform at the same high performance as any traditional board.
The specific designs of this shaper are known to bring a little extra speed under your feet on days when the waves are a little slower and more difficult to ride on.
This is one reason that his asymmetrical boards are set apart from an ordinary board.
Still, on bigger days, Parker’s boards have the stability and design for comfortable and easy pivots and turns.
Surfer and shaper, Donald Brink has always been fascinated with the craft of asymmetrical boards.
From an early age, he noticed the restrictions that came with riding a traditional board.
He was dissatisfied with the weight distributions and connection of the board and the feet of the surfer above.
As a result, Donald Brink turned towards asymmetrical shaping which he believes is more functional and hydrodynamic.
Taking a closer look, Brinks shapes primarily hone in on stance specific designs.
This means that Brink designs his boards assuming that each surfer has a similar stance and technique.
With that in mind, he altered traditional shapes to enhance toe and heelside performance.
Ultimately the choice in whether you get an asymmetrical board or not is yours.
However, having a variety of boards to choose from according to the day-to-day conditions of the waves can always be a good thing.
The best part of asymmetrical style boards is that they are usually tailored specifically for the rider.
They are made to enhance turns on both your toe and heel side by increasing maneuverability and releasing some of the pressure required to make these turns.
So, if you are interested in switching it up a bit and are open to an untraditional style of board, take a closer look at a few of the boards these shapers have made and get one for yourself.