swallowtail


Split-tailed surfboard design, refined by Hawaiian surfer-boardmaker Ben Aipa in 1972. "With a swallowtail," TransWorld Surf magazine noted in 2003, "you have the width and volume for speed, while the split at the end means the wide planing surface will loosen up, making the board easier to turn."

Prototypes for the double-pinned swallowtail were developed in the early and mid-'50s by California board makers Tom Blake and Bob Simmons, and a twin-fin version was introduced in 1967 by La Jolla's Barry "Bear" Mirandon, but it was Aipa, in the early '70s, who reconfigured the design and made it popular. Most early swallowtails measured between four and six inches from tip to tip, with a wedge depth of one to five inches. The fish design, introduced around the same time, had a wider tail, two fins, and was initially less popular—except among kneeboarders—than the swallowtail.

The swallowtail was one of standard tail designs used through the mid- and late '70s, along with the roundpin, square-, and diamond-tail. The swallowtail was also incorporated into the bump-railed "sting," another Aipa design, introduced in 1974 and ridden by top high-performance Hawaiian surfers like Larry Bertlemann, Buttons Kaluhiokalani, and Mark Liddell. Mark Richards' version of the twin-fin, launched in the late '70s, also incorporated the swallowtail.

With the early '80s introduction of the tri-fin, which for the most part used a boxy squashtail, the popularity of the swallowtail began to fade. In the late '90s, as wider boards came back into style—fish boards were especially popular—so too did the swallowtail.