what's the most important dimension for wave catching: length, width, rocker or tail shape? not talking about catching little knee slappers, more what will help me get to my feet and in position easiest especially on these big dumpy days? i'm pushing 40 and even though i'm a strong paddler, i'm not as quick and explosive as i used to be so i'm looking to tweek my shape a bit to compensate and hopefully not get pitched on my head so much.
Rocker has a huge impact on paddling as well as wave catching. Width helps to get planing and width at the tail especially helps pick up the waves energy. As far as what is most important, all factors need to work together.
Adequate volume combined with the right type of rocker for the type of waves you want it to work in is the combo you need
Are you trying to shape it yourself or are you just looking to increase your knowledge before talking to a shaper?
As an older East Coast shaper I find more center width and wider tails help alot - BUT the rocker has to be right - kind of lower entry rocker (12" point) with a bit more in the tail, kinda of a kick works for me but others may like something different.
Agree with everything JTS says above, but since you are looking for something for the "big dumpy days" then you'll want a narrower tail for control in the steep faces. A board like the Rusty Slayer or Lost Rock Up is the call. That's what I shape for myself for these kind of days. Low entry rocker (4-4.5") average tail rocker (2-2.5"), wide-ish nose (14" ish), narrowish round pin tail (14.5"ish), width around 20"ish and length 4-5 inches bigger than you (I'm 5'10" so mine are 6'2"-6'3"). Thickness to suit your weight. I'm 180 and mine are 2.5" thick. You can find a couple pictures if you search around my shaping blog: www.makeasurfboardblog.com
thanks guys. i figured there wasn't a simple answer. i'm sorta new to the east coast so still trying to work it all out. i have a ci biscuit that i love for just about everything but the big dumpy days. it's flat as and ironing board, 3" thick and has fat, soft rails so it likes to spin out on steep faces. my 'big wave' board is an m13 which rides great but i really feel the wave catching difference but wasn't sure if it was because of the much greater rocker or the skinny square tail.
next board will be from a local shaper but i like to know about this stuff going into it. again thanks!
In addition to all the good info posted above you'll want to pinch the rails a bit more for big steep waves to help the board penetrate and hold in the face. As you've experienced soft round rails slide out on bigger stuff.
Length never hurts wave catching (longboards, guns) but compromises manouverability...