OPT FOR A ROUNDED TAIL: A rounded tail will help draw out the shape of the board, keeping more of the rail in the water. At J-Bay, a point known for its blisteringly fast sections, a rounded tail is a necessity. "When Supers starts firing at 4- to 8-foot, we've found that rounded pins are the go-to tail," says Jon Pyzel, shaper for John Florence, among others. "You'll need that drive they create to keep pace with the wave. Rounded pins give you a bit more flow while also increasing your ability to connect your turns. Having that little bit of extra rail makes a big difference when you're racing past a section."
STICK WITH A THRUSTER: While the last few years have seen quad setups grow in popularity, Santa Barbara shaper Jason Feist still believes that standard thrusters are superior for pointbreaks. "I'd say that 80 to 90 percent of my customers are still sticking with thruster setups when they get boards for Rincon. I think that's a solid choice. For that one-in-a-million-wave where it's hollow from the takeoff point all the way through the rest of the wave, you can ride a quad to get that extra speed you need, but for the vast majority of points, a thruster setup is what you want. It'll offer you a little more connection to the wave and will help you link your turns together a little easier, which is exactly what you want."
THE DIFFERENCE OF A FEW INCHES: "I see a lot of guys on shorter boards not making the sections and doing small turns that are lost on the long walls of J-Bay," says Andrew Carter, a South African shaper who's shaped more than his fair share of boards for Jeffreys Bay. "When it comes to surfing a solid pointbreak that's really standing up, you can go a little bit bigger than your standard shortboard," agrees Feist. "An inch or so should do it. It'll give you a little more rail that you can really use to your benefit."
NARROW YOUR OUTLINE: "You don't want to do anything too drastic," says Pyzel, "but if the wave is at all powerful and not burgering out, you can go a little more narrow. This'll make it easier for you to transition from one rail to the other, give you a quicker reaction time, and help you link your turns together faster."
ADD SOME VOLUME: Typically when you're surfing a point, you'll be doing a lot more paddling than you would at your standard beachbreak. You'll likely appreciate a little extra foam after riding a leg-burner and staring down 150-yard paddle. "We like to go about 1/8 or 1/4 inch thicker than your standard shortboard," says Thys Strydom of J-Bay's Rebel Surfboards. "When the waves are good and the wind is really blowing, that extra bit of thickness really helps with paddling into a set and back out to the lineup."
BUY LOCAL: "If you can, I'd definitely recommend ordering a board from a shaper that knows the point you're looking to surf," says Pyzel. "Take advantage of their local knowledge. They'll know the wave--and what boards will work best--better than anyone."