A truly talented surfer can ride anything, be it a modern thruster, a twin-keel fish, or an ancient slab of redwood. But few can rip on an array of modern and historical surfcraft and then articulate the relationship between their designs and riding characteristics. Tyler Warren, on the other hand, is a bit of a renaissance man. He can handshape anything from a high-performance twinnie to an old-school log, and then proceed to paddle out and put on a clinic riding both. That's why we asked Warren to separate the wheat from the chaff and give his opinion on which design elements of yesteryear have survived the test of time and are just as crucial to your quiver now as ever.
1. Channel Bottoms
"Channels create more surface area to project off of in turns, acting as a long shallow fin creating more hold and drive," says Warren. "Most shapers and glassers cringe at the thought of having to produce these, which is why you don't typically see too many of them out in the lineup. But channels are a really useful design feature, and there are so many different ways to apply them; belly channels, forward channels, channels off the tail, channels to vee, curved channels, or rounded channels. You can also play with the angle of the channels and their distance apart, so the options are pretty much endless, and it’s always cool to see all the variations on the design and how shapers choose to interpret it."
2. Eggs and Mid-Lengths
"These mid-range boards are fuller, yet they have a sleek outline that can be ridden in shoulder high to overhead waves, allowing you to really connect the dots fluidly—if you've on a well-made board and are riding it correctly. These boards usually range from 6 to 9 feet, and can be ridden with just about any fin set up you can imagine, depending on the feeling you're looking for."
3. Flat/Concave Decks
"These have slowly been making a comeback. They were widely used in the '70s and '80s, but at that time most were too thick back then for their own good. You can actually use the design to ride a thinner board than normal, since there is extra foam in the deck. The feel is also much different from a standard deck. Instead of your feet wrapping around a gradual curve, it feels more like you're standing on a skateboard deck, and when you transfer your weight onto your heel or toe on a bottom or top turn, it makes the board respond quicker to that pressure."
4. Multi-Fin Boards
"This is what I'd call Bonzers, Twinzers, and Finzers. These boards take more time to figure out how to ride properly, and it's also harder to build a really good one. There's a lot going on in the designs, so you've got to balance the key elements to make sure that water is channeled correctly and they work from a hydrodynamic standpoint. It's rad to see progressive shapes like these, especially since they have a unique creative element that often makes them look and ride completely different."
5. Twin Fins
"Twin fins have been made and ridden in many different forms over the years, but I think that they are currently being pushed to a place they've never been before: deeper in the barrel, faster on the face, allowing for tighter turns, all with glide, even in big waves. Not many shapers have ventured too far from the original concepts and fin templates, but if you use fins with a little extra base and rake, and play with their angle and distance from the tail, you can really change the way they ride. Coupled with a modern bottom and rails, and I think most people would be surprised by the performance you can get from twin fins. And I'm not just talking fishes and swallow tails, but pintails, round tails, diamonds and more."