Traction, deck grip or tail pads — it doesn’t matter what you call them, they keep us glued to our boards and they’ve become an integral part of our modern day surfing life!
We can trace the origin of traction on surfboards back to 1976, when American surfer/inventor Herbie Fletcher started playing around with a polyuerthane elastomer foam. After a few experiments which included blowing the foam into flat sheets and sanding off the top layer... he finally arrived at the early version of what we know as traction today.
What do tail pads do? Well as the name suggests, they sit on the tails of our boards and essentially provide an anchor point for our back foot.
All the drive and power comes from the back leg and our back foot is essentially what we push down on the pedal with – the tail of our boards – to generate speed and drive into turns.
So it makes sense we’d want the two to live together in perfect harmony! Reminds us of a song, but we digress.
Traction comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, configurations and colours to choose from. How we make that choice depends on what kind of board we’re riding, how wide the tail area is and the shape of our feet. Most tail pads will fit a regular short board, but step up boards might require something a little narrower, and your fish might need something a little more spread out.
So what are the key things to consider with when deciding on a tail pad?
Generally tail pads will come in a two-piece, three-piece (most popular) or five-piece configuration. Because you apply the pieces to your board individually, this will allow you to set up the pads exactly where you want them on your board.
Do you prefer a flat tail paid, or something with an arch bar that is moulded to suit the shape of your feet? Similar to the way it works with shoes and insoles and whether something under your arch feels good or more like having a stone stuck in your sock. The choice is yours.
Most tail pads have them, it just depends how high you like them. What are they for? There are a couple of reasons – one, so you don’t slip off the back of your tail mid turn... that can not only be painful, but a little embarrassing if anyone sees you do it! And two, it helps when you want to go a little wild and get your progressive on. Airs, finners and big drop-wallets all could use a little tail kick!
The RYD traction range covers all bases. Tail kicks are 25mm or 27mm in height and all traction utilises the world standard, 3M backing tape. Our EVA (the soft stuff under your feet) is also world class and our new Diamond Dot fabrication adds another dimension of grip in our most popular styles.
The RYD traction range features a number of different traction patterns or grooves.
Our most durable traction pattern has been designed to last under the most rigorous use. For the heavy-footed surfer that is looking for unfaltering traction but also likes the comfort of a soft cushion-like pad - this design is a luxurious workhorse that will last as long as your board!
One of our original performers, this tried and tested formula has been our go-to pattern from the start. The 5mm height is cleverly dispersed by the horizontal diamond groove design, allowing greater connection to your board without losing an ounce of grip when you need it most.
Slightly thinner than our regular patterns, this design has been developed with performance in mind. Tested around the globe by WSL Championship tour surfer, Caio Ibelli, the addition of the micro dot to the vertically positioned diamond groove ensures maximum grip with an even closer connection to your board, making it truly the F1 fabrication of our range.