How to Properly Place Your Surfboard on Your Car Rack

Man loading surfboard onto car roof
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Which way should I place my board on car racks? It’s an essential debate that has raged for generations among surfers. Okay, we use the words “essential” and “raged” for effect here, but which direction you point your board is important. Many have conflicting theories. Some think that nose first makes the most sense since that’s the natural aerodynamic direction for your board. Others claim that the fins should go first so that they act like a block from slipping through the straps. Some place their boards bottom down to avoid getting wax on their car and some have even proposed some kind of sideways fastening configuration. Let’s explore the concept together, shall we?

Putting Your Surfboard on Your Car

The bottom line is that your surfboards are safest inside your car; however, there are a plethora of space and interior issues that arise when placing a wet, sandy, salty, and worst of all waxy surfboard into your car. If you have a truck, an open bed is an easy solution, but the wind, blazing sun, and tight turns can wreak havoc on your board.

So before we get to the basics of board placement on your racks, consider getting a board bag for general transport, and then be sure you follow some simple guidelines when strapping your board to the top of your car.

Types of Racks

Soft racks are great because you can store them away when not in use, BUT they can also scratch your car’s roof since you will remove and re-attach them often.

Hard racks offer a permanent solution for your boards. They are great because you can quickly strap your board and take it off for less prep time before and after surfing. But it’s all about what you need because hard racks cannot be transferred when you travel or frequently switch cars.

As for board placement, place your board waxed side (deck) down with your fins facing up. The tail (fin end) should be pointing forward toward the front of the car.

Why? Take a look at your board’s contours (learn about the parts of the surfboard). With the flat tail area flowing smoothly along the rocker downward toward the nose, the wind will not get caught under the board but will rather exert some pressure down of the board and make it much safer if for some reason you didn’t secure it properly. Of course, the board will not stay on the roof unsecured, but less force will be pushing against the board and on the strap. Further, the fins will act as an added block to hinder the board’s slipping under the front strap.

Your surfboard flying off your racks is bad for your board and more importantly dangerous to others, so be sure to place your board on the racks properly, double check your straps several times before you take off, and pay special attention to their security as you traverse high bridges or travel under stormy conditions.

Related Info

In Myth Busters Episode 154, the crew busted the myth presented in Lethal Weapon 2 that a surfboard flying forward off a crashing car would fly through another car’s windshield and kill the driver. In their test, the board moving at 40 miles per hour bounced off the windshield and only pierced the windshield partially at 85 MPH. However, that doesn’t mean you want your board flying off. Be safe and strap it on.

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