Surfboard Tail Pads

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Although the advent of surfboard grip pads in the late 70’s early 80’s with products such as Astrodeck, the humble surfboard wax is still the main stay of every surfer. Parafin wax is the first choice for adding grip to an otherwise slipper combination of fiberglass and water.

Even still, there is a place for the surfboard tail pad or surfboard grip as it is referred to. In the early to mid 80’s and into the 90’s it was common place to see surfers covering both the front foot area as well as the back foot area or tail, with Gorilla Grip. It is now FCS or Fin Control Systems grip but in the early days the brand Gorilla Grip was the first product to go mass market to surfers with a decent replacement for wax.

Surfboard Grip The Early Days

When I was just a grom, I didn’t have a fiberglass board – had to make do with a Kentucky Fried Chicken (yep that is what KFC stands for kiddies!) foam surfboard which cost me $2. I was only about 10 so this had to do but I was determined to make it just like the other rich kids at the beach who could afford a fiberglass surfboard. So my first attempt to bring my surf-craft up to speed, was to give it fin. Seeing that the foamy didn’t have much of a fin system, I decided to make my own out of some vinyl tiles and electrical tape. Did the trick and I cut or should I say melted a hole in the foam board and then glued it in. Had to be careful to make sure the glue was not the kind that would eat the styrene foam away, so it was a case of test it on some foam first.

Custom Spray Job

Next addition apart from my custom spray (ok it was just hand painted on), was some deck grip. I had seen or heard about Astro Deck in one of the surf magazines like Surfing and thought, “Heck I can make my own”. So I got some chair vinyl my Mum had lying around and cut out a square patch and proceeded to glue it under my front foot area. Well full disclosure – it was not really my front foot area as I couldn’t stand up on the board, as it was too unstable. It was in the same place however, and there was no need for a rear piece or tail pad, as you know I was only lying down and catching foamies.

Tail Pads On All Boards

A lot has changed since back in the late sixties, I have now a fully load rack of fiberglass surfboards ranging from my 7’6″ Hawaiian gun hand shaped by John “JC” Carper all the way down to a 6’2″ also shaped by John. All up I have a surfboard for most of the conditions I like to surf in – 1 – 2 foot up to 10 foot plus. There is one thing however that is common throughout the extent of my quiver, and that is the presence of a tail pad on each board. There is nothing better than having the confidence that good grip brings to your surfing performance levels. Being able to plant that back foot and jam a hard bottom turn, is essential to gaining the most power out of a wave in your surfing. Tail pads give you this confidence and extra zoom when you put aggression and zest into your most important of manoeuvers  the bottom turn.

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