Before you rush out and choose a surfboard, there are many points you will need to consider.
Not all surfboards are created equal, and what looks great and works well for your mate, won’t necessarily be the best surfboard for you.
Don’t be distracted by the artwork and the colours either, there are other far more important considerations.
So here’s what you need to look for when choosing the right surfboard for “you”:
Be Honest About Your Surfing Ability
Different surfboards suit different surfing levels.
If you are a total beginner you are best off starting on a soft surfboard /foamie or longboard. This way you will have a surfboard that will provide you with the stability you will need as paddling, catching waves and balance will all be new to you.
Intermediate surfers on the other hand have a much broader range to choose from including shortboards and fish surfboards. As your level of surfing is now beyond that of a beginner yet below that of a professional, you can start to experiment a bit with the type of surfboards you choose to ride.
However just remember that the more things you change the greater the learning curve, as each surfboard is unique in its own way.
Even though experienced surfers probably aren’t reading this guide to how to chose a surfboard, they should ensure that they use their knowledge and backing to choose a surfboard that continues to take their surfing to higher levels.
So come on guys…Be honest about how good or bad you surf when you are picking out your new surfboard. Lieing to yourself does you no good and will only make your surfing worse.
Choosing the Kelly Slater model will only make you look stupid….not make you surf like Kelly Slater.
Age Does Matter
Your age will play a huge factor in determining the right surfboard for you.
Smaller kids and teens will need smaller surfboards. This is for a number of reasons.
Firstly they are very short. This means that they wont need as much foam to keep them a float and can opt for a shorter surfboard. It need only be a few inches above their head.
This is why you see kids surfboards in the general range of 5 to 6 feet. Sometimes even shorter.
They also need to be able to handle the surfboard in the water. If the surfboard they use is for the average surfer, 6’0 and up, they won’t be able to turn the surfboard as well or maybe even duck dive under the crashing waves.
Lastly they need to be able to physically carry their surfboard under their arm, otherwise you will be the one lugging it around for them!
Teens and fit young adults also generally weigh less than the average joe and sothey too can get away with smaller, thinner boards.
However they may need to choose a surfboard with a little bit more thickness to add more volume to their surfboard. This is due to the fact that as kids grow up they start to weigh more, or get heavier. Therefore they need a surfboard that will continue to keep them afloat!
Once kids and teens have graduated from the foamie or soft tops, shortboards and fish surfboards could be great options.
If you are getting up their in age and can no longer throw the tail at the lip like you used too, you may want to consider choosing a surfboard such as a longboard for you next surfboard purchase. This will allow you to paddle easier and cruise across the face of the wave!..Hassle free!
Don’t worry…there is no shame in moving from a shortboard to a longboard. The younger guys in the lineup will view you as the grand daddy of your local surf spot!
How Much Do You Weigh?
Like the kid that gets bigger as he gets older, the same applies here. The more you weigh, the wider and thicker the surfboard you ride will have to be to keep you a float. So you must keep this in mind when you choose a surfboard.
Width describes the length of the surfboard across from one side to the other, while thickness describes the surfboard distance from the deck through to the bottom, measured at the center of the surfboard.
As you add more width and thickness to a surfboard outline you add more foam producing a more stable, floaty ride. The reason this is so good for the larger riders is that it causes your body weight to produce less drag as your surfboard tries to glide across the face of the wave.
What's Your Height
When you choose a surfboard your height will determine the length of the surfboard you need.
Generally the taller you are, the longer the surfboard will need to be. For a beginner a very basic rule of thumb is to go for a surfboard that is about 1 foot longer than your height.
Therefore if you are 6 feet tall, a 7 foot long surfboard will be tall enough to ensure that the nose of the surfboard does not get buried in the face of the wave as you attempt to catch waves.
A more experienced surfer on the other hand can opt for a surfboard with less height that is only a few inches taller than themselves. As you become more comfortable with catching waves and standing up on your surfboard a reduction in length will be beneficial.
This will provide you with an easier surfboard to maneuver allowing you to begin learning how to carve along the wave face.
What Types Of Waves Will You be Riding?
Where are you planning on riding your surfboard? You will need to check out your local surf break and find out what sorts of surfboards are best for those particular wave conditions and wave size.
If you live where the waves are consistently smallthen you will be better off choosing a longboard. This will allow you to catch waves easier and ride small waves with minimal effort.
If you live where the waves are sloppy and mushyyou will probably be wanting to work your way up to a fish surfboard. Fish surfboards are shorter and wider providing you with added speed needed to get by those annoying flat spots.
If you are lucky enough to live where they waves are always firing double overheadit would be best to choose a surfboard with some extra length with a pintail tail design. But these are best suited for the experienced surfers.
How Committed To Surfing Are You?
If you are just starting out, are you planning on hitting the waves only on the weekends, or every day?
The more time you spend in the water the faster you will improve.
If you are planning on spending plenty of time in the water can probably choose a surfboard that is a bit smaller than what is recommended for a beginner. You will most likely get the hang of things faster and outgrow a beginner longboard or soft surfboard too quickly.
This way you save money and excel quickly.
If surfing is only going to be a past time and you won’t be paddling out more than once or twice a month, I would recommend you choose a surfboard like a longboard. You most likely won’t improve fast enough to be requiring a new surfboard within a year.
What Are Your Surfing Aspirations?
Do you aspire to do radical surfing manoeuvres like Kelly Slater?…or are you wanting to glide along a wave Hanging Ten with your dog beside you?
This is a serious question as each of these surfing styles require you choose a surfboard that is vastly different from the other.
Those wanting to perform radical and fast turns will need to consider a high performance shortboard, a fish surfboard or maybe even a quad surfboard! These surfboards are designed to be thrown around and to help take your surfing to new heights.
Longboards on the other hand are ideal for beginners and those looking to surf smaller waves gracefully. The choice is really yours.
What Is Your Fitness Level?
If you are a teen, or you can still move around like an teenager, then you will have a few more options than those who are a bit slower to their feet.
Shortboards and fish surfboards are great for those who have retained their agility, once they have some surfing experience.
Longboards are very forgiving for those who are still a bit slow, or need extra assistance with stability and floatation.
Lastly... Never Be Afraid To Ask The Experts
If you are totally confused or overwhelmed, ask before you buy. All surf shops, shapers and factories are happy to help with advice as to what is going to suit your age, height, weight, talent, and local waves.
This is even more important if you should happen to fall outside the ballpark generalisations for height and weight. For example you are 6 foot and weight 120 pounds, or perhaps you are 5 foot and weight 180. You get the idea.
So you see there are quite a few points to consider before you choose a surfboard. However, there are surfboards out there for all ages, standards, and waves so no worries.
Always remember that you are handing over your hard earned cash to these stores and shapers for the surfboard you choose. It is their job to help you make the best decision. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to ask for guidance.
You will leave the store feeling more confident in your purchase and you will increase your surfboard knowledge in the process.