Groveler Surfboard History

Grovelers are some of the surfboards that don’t have a very linear history, as many shapers began making them in the late 90s and early 2000s when experimentation in board shaping was a big hit.

Essentially, shaper wanted a way to stuff as much volume into as little of a board as possible.


Therein came the name “groveler”, which basically created an umbrella for these stubby little boards to fit under.

Some of the biggest companies in the game began taking on the groveler design, such as Channel Islands, FireWire, and Lost.

They are now some of the most popular little wave surfers out there.

How Did These Boards Become So Popular?

Not all days are built for serious surfing. In fact, most surfers have to deal with the 1-2 footers and subpar surf for most of the time. Grovelers were built for the purpose of getting surfers in the water when the waves were tiny and weak.  In recent years, the idea has caught on, and whenever the surf isn’t at its peak, you can find these stubby little rockets all around you.

Besides that, they were made for fun. Shortboards designs in the 90's were getting more and more intense with sharper outlines and bigger rockers. When pros weren’t riding in competitions where the waves were solid, they wanted a way to get out and mess around in the water.

So What Exactly Is a Groveler Surfboard?

In a way, Grovelers reflect a lot of the characteristics that we saw in shortboards during the 1980s. Shortboards in the 1980s had flat rockers, wide tails, and tons of thickness that rode up through the nose.

That’s basically what we see in Grovelers of today. These little grovelers typically average out around 5’ and are typically given away by their extreme oblong shape.

Modern grovelers are typically fitted with 4 fins to help give them stability and speed in waist high conditions.

example of a groveler surfboard

Why Did Groveler Surfboards Catch On? 

Groveler surfboards didn’t really hit the mainstream until around 2010 or so when FireWire released the Sweet Potato board. It certainly perpetuated the explosion that would soon become a mini groveler revolution. Prior to its creation, no surfing company had really created a small surfboard quite like this that had mass appeal for tiny wave surfers. Many will argue that the Mini Simmons created in the 1950s was actually the first, but even then the Mini Simmons was a very underground and experimental concept that never quite caught on, especially in its time.

After its rising popularity, other companies began manufacturing their own versions of the Groveler. Some of the most popular ones today include the Channel Islands Average Joe and the Cab Sav by Nick Blair.

Why Should I Add A Groveler Surfboard To My Quiver?

The answer by now should be pretty obvious. If you live in a place that constantly has poor surfing conditions, or want to get out on days that are small and actually be able to catch a nice line, a groveler surfboard is a must have.

Besides that, they’re so much fun to ride. Surfing these days has become so competitive. It’s all about who can hit the longest lines or bust the craziest maneuvers, when in reality, what we all need is a little fun to remind ourselves why we began surfing in the first place. Grovelers remind you not to take surfing so seriously and enjoy your time out there.

Frequently Asked Questions  


Grovelers are made for the 1’-2’ high surf. If the waves are knee high, that’s when you know it’s best to take a groveler out. If the waves get any bigger than that, put them away. They surf a lot like longboards and can actually be substituted for longboards on days that are pretty small. In the same way, they have basically no rocker which won’t give you anyway to catch a steep drop off a wave, essentially sending you tumbling into the abyss no matter how good you are.

Final Thoughts

You either love or hate groveler boards. Many surfers and even shapers will note that there’s no reason to have a groveler board if you have a longboard, though those who have enjoyed the little things may disagree. Like we mentioned earlier, groveler boards are all about fun. The moment you start asking too many questions is the moment you ruin it for yourself.