The Humble VEE Packing a New Sting
If you asked any 25 year old surfer about a vee bottom he would not know what you were talking about. The dominance of the concave bottom re-popularized by Greg Webber and Shane Herring in the late eighties and early nineties is showing no sign of waning any time soon.
It is still the most functional bottom shape for the high performance thrusters ridden by the elite – who tend to direct the fashion in the market place. Perhaps the new renaissance in alternative board design of late, embraced by those who are not so swayed by the immortals, will open minds to more acceptance of alternative bottom shapes.
For one, the fish revolution meant wider and shorter boards, most still saddled with deep concaves that lifted and ran, but were extremely stubborn in the tilt department. Most designers of these new hybrid fishes needed to incorporate deeper longer vees to get these little tanks on rail quicker and easier.
Traditionally vees were used through the last third of the board but Maurice Cole turned this upside down when he stumbled upon the reverse vee which essentially was a vee through the centre and flat at either end. These things for a while smashed the dominance of the concave particularly in bigger waves but died out when Curren went underground. Currently many shapers in Hawaii and Australia are incorporating both the vee and concave together.
Placing the concave through the centre and running it into a vee through the last third; speed is created under the front foot and control under the back foot. Also where the vee is, the rail lines are straighter, and where concaves are, rail lines are curvier; resulting in a more forgiving rail under the front foot and a more driving rail in the tail.
This concept is now creeping into more modern short boards of late, where a deep concave runs into a short vee that exits out the last 6 inches of the tail. This feature helps reduce the water pressure in a tail that may be a little too wide in the pod and where there is too much lifting and sliding going on. I saw a few extremes of this on a couple of Danes boards at Belles a year or two ago and the idea is proliferating of late – because it makes sense.
There is no doubt with the finely tuned narrow competitive boards ridden by the world’s best there is no need for the use of vees – these guys are soooo talented and can master a board with even ridiculously deep concaves, just like a formula one driver can drive those weapons of speed where a layman would end up in a coffin at the very first hairpin. At the other end of the scale however, the concave is not generally an easy bottom shape to master, indeed in the old days we dodged elm like the plague.
A vee was easy to turn and the straighter rockered and front heavy boards of that era needed all the help they could get. Today the vee is certainly making a comeback and is creeping back into modern board design and complimenting performance for many who still do not know or understand their mechanism.
Certainly most of my models in the past few years have a vee of some sort designed into them and the feedback has been very positive. It is a lot easier these days with the new shaping software to vary the bottom shape from nose to tail. So next time you have thoughts about a shorter wider board, or indeed a longer step up don’t be afraid to suggest a vee out the tail.