How to Choose the right Surfboard

May 19, 2016

How to Choose the right Surfboard

So you finally rode your first wave and are hooked on surfing! Chances are, you probably rented or borrowed a board and now you want one for yourself? This guide will walk you through selecting the best surfboard for your needs, and what factors go in surfboard selection.

What is your experience level: Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced?

  • Beginner: You have never tried surfing, or maybe have gone just a few times. You want to get into it abit more and finally invest in a board of your own. If this is you, then you need a longer-size board (such as a longboard/mini mal). These are wide, stable, easy paddling boards perfect for small days to learn on and get the feel for surfing a wave. The pros make riding a shortboard look too easy, but don’t be fooled into thinking that you can just skip straight to a small surfboard and suddenly hack and do airs with the best of them. Surfing is a lifelong challenge, and starting with the wrong board will translate to a long, hard struggle. Learn the basics on a funshape or longboard now, making the transition to a shorter board a lot simpler.
  • Intermediate: You are comfortable in the water riding and catching waves, maybe you’re getting bored of the mini mal you learn to surf on 2 years ago. If shortboard shredding is what you seek, then you may want to step down from a longboard or mini-mal to something smaller, like a shortboard or fish. If you don’t want to jump down to much then look at a few fish or groveler boards. These are smaller boards that still hold a lot of volume in them, but are not very performance orientated. You need to practice on a short board and these are the easiest way of doing just that. Or if longboarding is your steeze, then opt for a smaller, more performance-based longboard allowing you a bit more freedom on the wave.
  • Advanced: You know who you are; no need for this guide as you know what you need! Go ahead – go shred!

What is your weight?

Weight is a very important factor in selecting a board. If you are a lighter person, (under 85kgs) then a smaller board will be easier for you to paddle and turn than someone slightly heavier (90kgs +). Bigger is always better for learning. You can find surfboard volume calculators on google, these take into account your fitness, weight and ability. Looking at one of them will give you a rough idea of what volume you need in a board, making the process of finding a board much easier. Remember, when in doubt, always go with a larger size surfboard.

What type of waves will you be riding with your surfboard?

You need to assess the types of waves you will be riding with your surfboard. Like most of us, you probably live where the waves are smaller – in the 1’ to 4′ range most of the time. If your local break is a slower, not so clean, then boards like longboards and fishes will be better than a standard shortboard. If you want to try your hand at a steeper, hollower wave, then having a short board or smaller size board always helps as they fit the geometry of the steep wave face better. Just remember, it’s no fun to grovel in 2′ slop on a board that’s not big enough to hold you up. Maximize your fun and pick the correct board for the type of waves you will be riding.

What is your board sports experience and fitness level?

Surfing is a sport that requires a lot of fitness. A strong, agile individual with lots of experience in other board sports, such as skateboarding, wakeboarding or snowboarding, should have no trouble at all jumping right into a short board or fish from the get-go, and be up and riding in no time. However, if you do not fit into this category you absolutely want to seek out a longer board, such as a mini-mall or longboard, as they have a lot more float, stability, and make catching waves a dream. If you think you are somewhere in the middle, try a funshape or bigger style shortboard or fish.

Even for someone who is very fit and has lots of experience with other board sports, it can take months of daily surfing to learn just the basics of the ocean, catching waves, and riding the face. Keep this in mind when choosing a board size so you can maximize your fun on the water.

Keeping all these tips in mind you should be able to find the perfect board for you. Now the only thing to do is grab that board and get out there!


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