Choosing a Surfboard
You can learn to surf on any board you like, and many times it is
tempting to select the board that appears really cool, however some
surfboards are more appropriate than others for beginners. Remember
that the first board is to teach you how to surf a wave not to make you
look cool. To maximize your surfing progress, you must start on the
Your first surfboard will help you master the basics of paddling,
getting into the waves, standing up and getting down the line. Use it
until you feel ready to move on to a board that will give you more
Buying a surfboard for the first time
and finding the right board to fit your individual needs may seem a
little confusing. There are several important factors to consider when
buying a surfboard, including: your height & weight, your level of
experience and the type of waves you’ll be surfing in.
Information About Surfboards
Here is a look at what the essential parts of a surfboard are called.
The Deck is the top side of the surfboard and is where the surfer stands
to surf and lays to paddle. Wax is applied to this top surface for grip.
Often surfers will use deck grip for extra traction. If you look at the
deck of a surfboard you will usually see a slight camber from the rail
to the middle then back to the rail. This is know as a Domed Deck and
helps promote easy rail to rail movements. The other type of deck is the
Flat Deck - no prizes for guessing what this type looks like.
The nose of the surboard sits out of the water. On shortboards,
fish and guns the Nose is normally pointed and on funboards / minimals
and longboards the Nose is usually rounded. This is by no means set in
stone. Some surfers use a surfboard nose guard which can protect the
surfboard from dings and also protect the surfer from a good poke from a
||The tail is at the back of the board. There are quite a few different
tail shapes with each shape providing different board performance. As pointed out in the above
diagram, the tail will have a Leash Plug. This plug is where the leash
is attached to the surfboards. The plug is set into the deck and the
leash is looped through.
||The rails are the 'edge' of the surfboard and run from the tail to the
nose and are where the deck and the bottom meet. Like the tail shapes,
different rail rail shapes provide different surfboard performance. It
may not be something you have thought about but take a look at the
different shapes next time you are in a surf shop.
||The Stringer is a strip of strengthening material (typically wood) that
runs the whole length of a foam surfboard. It is already present in the
surfboard blank before it is shaped. Epoxy, Soft and Carbon Fibre surfboards will not often have stringer.
The modern surfboard is hand shaped by professional shapers out of foam,
and finished with a fibreglass coat. They are light and strong. The
leading edge of surfboard design changes quickly. Here are the basic
elements you will need to know;
The length is the most influential aspect of a board's design and is a
good place to start when considering what dimensions your first
surfboard should be. For beginners looking to learn as quickly and as
easily as possible, bigger usually means better. A longer board will
offer easier paddling and more stability under it's rider's feet. Many
first time surfboard buyer's, will find a board that is 18-24 inches
taller than it's rider to be the easiest to learn on. However this may
vary, depending on the weight of the surfer too.
The width of your first surfboard will determine how stable it feels,
and how easy it is to control. A wider board will offer beginning
surfers a definite advantage in smaller conditions, and is best for
learning on. For this reason the width of a first board should be at
least 19 inches or greater.
The thickness of a surfboard directly affects how well it floats. More
floatation means a smoother ride once standing and less fatigue from
paddling. For most surfers a thickness of 2.5 inches is sufficient in a
first board. However, since the proper thickness is mostly determined by
the surfer´s weight, heavier surfers may benefit from a thicker board.
The term template refers to a board´s overall outline. A board with a
template that is wide throughout the nose, center, and tail of the board
is best for the beginner. This will offer the rider a more forgiving
feel and better overall balance. A fuller template will also make
paddling much less difficult
For the beginning or novice surfer,
purchasing a soft surfboard, called foamies, is the most practical
Good quality soft surfboards are comparatively
inexpensive and are highly durable. For stability and ride quality, soft
surfboards should have a wooden stringer down the center of the board,
rails on the edges, and a sturdy deck.
A board that bends is extremely difficult to ride.
Good soft surfboards are padded, have flexible
fins and come with a safety leash. Being soft, these boards are less
dangerous than conventional fiberglass boards; the rider won’t suffer a
serious injury if the board hits their head or face.
The soft foam construction means the boards are incredibly buoyant,
enabling the beginner to catch waves easily and their dimensions make it
very stable and easy for the novice to stand.
Once a surfer has graduated from or
wants to skip the soft board, the next board is made of fiberglass. A
longboard should be the type of board you purchase for your first real
surfboard. A longboard is a large buoyant board so it will allow you to
easily paddle to catch a wave and help with timing and balance.
Longboards are made for cruising on small waves, so you can stand up and
get the feel for riding in relatively calm conditions.
The Intermediate Surfer
Once you become comfortable riding the
waves, the next step is to learn to turn and maneuver. The shape of
surfboard that gives you a balance between agility
and stability is the funboard shape. This type of board is good for
turning, maneuvering as well as
general wave riding. It is an all purpose surfboard that is good for
recreational surfing. The fun board is ideal for a beginner who wants
to catch small waves, yet learn some turns and tricks. In addition, it
will work on medium sized waves as surfing skills improve.
The Experienced Surfer
The shortboards are
most agile and best suited for performing tricks. Shortboards are
short, narrow and thin. To get used to the short style, your first
shortboard should be on the thicker side, for buoyancy. When you are
ready for advanced tricks, smaller in every aspect is better.
Purchasing For a Teenager...
At this age you have to consider how often and how aggressive they will
surf as well as what type of board their friends use. The beginner
board rule of the more stable the board the better still applies.
However, for a beginner in this age group that has friends who surf
‘short boards’ \ and who can get to the beach on a regular basis the ‘right
board’ will be totally different than for somebody who goes to the beach
occasionally in the summer and who’s
friends are just beginners too. A fun board is definitely easier
to learn on but if the beginner is aggressive to learn and the people
they surf with ride shorter boards, a fun board probably would get ‘old’
pretty quick. Talk to the experts at your local surf shop for advise.
Surfboards for Women...
There are now
surfboard manufacturers that design
boards specifically for women. They are designing boards that are
easy to turn but yet stable. The take into consideration arm length, and
board weight so that a women can easily carry it to the beach.
Lastly, the boards are in-tune with a women's body.
Choosing a Surfboard:
also known as the Thruster and is the most popular type of
surfboard. It is used to perform quick maneuvers on
waves and the size of these boards are generally from around
5'8'' to 6'10''
are also known as Malibu boards and range eight to fourteen feet
long. Longboards are universally common among both
beginners and skilled surfers alike. The main reason why
longboards are more suitable for beginners is because of the
board's size and frequency of catching waves. Longboards are
less aggressive than shortboards and are made for cruising small
to medium sized waves. The main difference in design between a
long board and a shortboard is that the nose of the Longboard is
Mini-Malibu is one step short of the traditional longboard. It
is a fun-board and allows an easy paddle into waves. It is a
very common board in the line-up in small, playful summer surf.
Fish is very similar to a Shortboard but is smaller in length.
The lack of length is made up by an increase in the width of the
board, giving it a slightly more rounded shape. Fish are
generally between 4'8'' and 6'0''. A fish is great for
fast surfing with quick direction changes in small surf.
The Gun is a
bigger version of the Shortboard and is used in the big wave
arena. The increased length of the board makes it possible to
paddle into bigger waves. The Gun can be anywhere from 7'2'' in
length to over 12' for the really big waves
The wax on a
surfboard goes on the top of the board and it is used to help prevent
the surfer from sliding on the board.
Apply wax from the edge
of the bar, dragging it across the surface of the board. As you
continue to apply your wax it will build into bumps all over the riding
surface of your board
If you want to
clean old wax off, leave your board in the sun for a while or use a hair
dryer to get it soften and then use a wax comb or plastic scraper. A
citrus based cleaner on a cloth will clean up the rest.
To protect your
board keep it out of direct sunlight, UV rays will deteriorate the
fiberglass skin and cause discoloring.
A boardbag helps
to protect the board when transporting it. Most damage to surfboards is
caused in transport and in storage.
Sooner or later you are
going to ding your surfboard. It is important to get it fixed
immediately. There are websites that cover ding repair in
detail, and ready-to-go repair-kits are available for purchase.
Most surf shops sell permanent resin patch kits with full instructions
starting at about $20. If you do not know what you are doing bring it
to the surf shop to get it repaired. Whatever direction you choose
remember that it is important to keep the board looking good and working
A pioneer in the development of wax,
Mr. Zogs Sex Wax has been around for over 35 years. His unique formula
provides exceptional traction in all conditions. It is important
for you to get the proper wax for your surf conditions. Talk to
the local surf shop they will normally carry the wax needed for their
Wax Temperature Guide:
- Basecoat - Use as your
first layer of wax
- Cold - 60F & Below / 15C & Below
- Cool/Cold - 69F & Below / 21C & Below
- Cool - 58-68F / 14-19C
- Warm - 64-74F / 19-28C
- Warm/Trop - Above 75F / 24C
- Tropical - 75F & Above / 24C & Above