How To Choose A Surfboard?
What to bear in mind when choosing the surfboard?
How THICK does the surfboard have to be?
What is the VOLUME?
Which TYPE of model to choose?
FISH, MAL, SHORTBOARD, LONGBOARD or a HYBRID
How LONG should a board be?
5ft or 8ft
How To Choose The Right Size Surfboard
In order to match your skill set and type of riding – picking the right SIZE surfboard will maximize your time on the waves. We all know, that the “perfect” time on the surf is always fairly limited, so better take the extra time to choose the right surfboard than rush to get a board that’s not right for you.
Also, when choosing a surfboard, make sure to pick the right TYPE that’s suitable for the type of waves you are going to surf on your nearby surf breaks. In ideal conditions, it is best to have a few different boards for each occasion if you are planning to surf the rest of your life anyway.
I’ve made an extensive article about Surfboards to get a brief overview of the different boards available.
Which Type Of Surfboard Is Right For Me?
Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet or “SIZE Small, Medium or Large.”
The golden rule here is, that the priority when choosing the board comes down to:
1.DESIGN (TYPE OF BOARD)
2.VOLUME (HOW BIG IS THE BOARD)
3. DIMENSIONS (HOW LONG AND WIDE IS THE BOARD)
RELATED: 5 Best Beginner Surfboards of 2019
Round or a narrow board? Round-shaped boards are more relaxed and designed to ride on mellow waves. Narrow boards, on the other hand, are for designed to perform on more powerful waves and better conditions. Beginners are better off starting with a surfboard that’s round so that they could get the touch of balance. Generally, rounds surfboard are also bigger in size and will forgive more mistakes beginners tend to make.
The most known types of surfboards for surfing
- Soft-Top Foamboard
+ Cruise and smooth on small waves
– Hard to turn
+ Good for turns and deep sections
– Needs speed on a wave and hard to paddle
What Is The Surfboard Rocker?
ROCKER is the bottom curvature of the board from tail to nose. The more “bent” the board is – the more rocker it’s got.
Having the proper rocker design on your board makes a whole lot of difference in riding the waves.
Most shortboards have a design with a heavy rocker, so you could take off late from a steep wave without nose-diving the board. A good amount of rocker is also good for riding on hollow waves – where you have to adjust riding the line quite often and fast.
Longboards, Soft-top foam boards, and mal boards are designed with a relaxed rocker other times called flat rocker, that’s ideal for small wave size and weaker swells. Having a relaxed rocker gives you more float and enables early take off with less paddling. So – the more floating area you have beneath you – the easier it will be to move forward, but it can limit you on the more advanced conditions.
If you are unsure which size surfboard is right for you – read our article about it: How To Calculate The Surfboard Volume
What is the surfboard volume? Volume is the amount of space the surfboard occupies. Volume is measured in cubic liters. Many beginners tend to choose the board mainly by the number of liters which is ultimately not the right thing to do. It’s best to choose a surfboard primarily by its shape (design or type), then volume and the length etc.
Why are the liters not as the primary factor when choosing a surfboard? For example, the “sweet spot” for each rider is +/- 5 liters or so. It’s better to have the right size dimensions and type of surfboard than having a wrong type of board with the correct amount of liters.
For example, A surfer named John who is 6’2” tall chooses a shortboard that’s 5’8″ long but has the right amount of volume in it – John is going to have a hard time maneuvering the board that’s too short for him. On the other hand, when John is deciding to pick the right length and type of the board for the waves he is mainly going to surf, but with too many liters in it, he is going to catch way more waves.
More foam = More volume = Larger Size Board
+ Floats good and rides well on small and weaker waves
– Hard to duck dive due to the “excess” amount of foam in it
Less foam = Less Volume = Smaller Size Board
+ The right amount of foam keeps you afloat and lets you duck dive
– Paddles slow and needs to take off late on a wave
When choosing a surfboard, it’s best to choose it by the volume, not just by the height.
Larger/Longer/Wider Size Board
+ Easy to paddle due to the large floating area
+ Easy to ride on small to medium and weak waves.
– Not as maneuverable
– Hard and inconvenient to duck-dive under waves
Shorter Size Board
+ Manoeuvrable when riding down the wave
+ Easy to duck dive
– Slow on a wave and wants to sink on weaker waves
– Hard to paddle
SHORTBOARD Surfboard Size Recommendations
Once a week / once a month surfer
- LBS 100-140 KG 45 – 65 Recommended surfboard length 6’2 Width 18 1/2 Thickness 2 1/4 2 3/8
- LBS 140-160 KG 65 – 73 Recommended surfboard length 6’4 Width 19 Thickness 2 3/8 – 2 2/1/2
- LBS 160-180 KG 73 – 82 Recommended surfboard length 6’6 Width 20 Thickess 2 1/2 2 5/8
- LBS 180-200 KG 82 – 90 Recommended surfboard length 6’10 Width 21 Thickness 2 3/4 – 3
- LBS 200-250 KG 90 – 115 Recommended surfboard length 7’4 Width 22 Thickness 3 – 3 1/4
- LBS 100-140 KG 45 – 64 Recommended shortboard length 6’0 – 6’2 Recommended shortnoard width 18 1/2″-19″ Recommended surfboard thickness 2 1/4″ – 2 3/8″
- LBS 140-160 KG 65 – 73 Recommended shortboard length 6’2 – 6’6 Recommended shortboard width 18 3/4″-19 1/2″ Recommended surfboard thickness 2 3/8″ – 2 1/2″
- LBS 160-180 KG 73 – 82 Recommended shortboard length 6’4 – 6’8 Recommended shortboard width 19″ – 19 3/4″ Recommended surfboard thickness 2 1/2″ – 2 5/8″
- LBS 180-200 KG 82 – 90 Recommended shortboard length 6’8 – 7’2 Recommended shortboard width 19 1/2″ – 20 1/2″ Recommended surfboard thickness 2 5/8″ – 2 7/8″
- LBS 200-250 KG 90 – 115 Recommended shortboard length 7’2 + Recommended shortboard width 20″ -21 1/2″ Recommended surfboard thickness 3″ – 3 1/4″
DIMENSIONS SIZE WRITTEN ON A BOARD
example: 6‘6“ x 20“1/4‘ x 2“5/6‘
The length of the board is measured from nose to tail. 6’6″
Width is measured from the widest part. 20″ 1/4′
Thickness is measured by the widest part. 2″ 5/6′
The combination of the threes gives the board a rough estimate of a 35-liter volume. How? Read more from HERE.
The thickness of a surfboard is a key factor since the board will be sliding down the wave. The longer the board – the thicker it has to be in order to maintain its overall strength and sturdiness. Thickness is measured from the widest part of the board on the rails. In ideal, the thicker board has better float but will be harder to duck-dive under the waves.
For example – the ultimate performance boards are as small and thin as possible – in order to maximize the board’s capabilities. But the smaller they get – the more prone does the surfboard get to snapping in half.
Which is the Best Surfboard For A Beginner Surfer
Beginners should start with a surfboard that is long and wide foam or soft boards. Even if you have been a boardrider(snowboard, skateboard) your whole life – standing up on a surfboard is completely different. Why?
As a snowboarder, you are on a solid mountain sliding on snow, or a skateboarder skating on concrete. Well – as a surfer you have to stand up on moving water! It is easy to start surfing and getting to know the basics on a long foam board. It is always better to start surfing on a board that’s large in size. The touch of balance is completely different since the moving and unpredictable shape of the wave behind and under your feet. The long and wide soft board will forgive on beginners mistake and won’t hurt you as bad as the fiberglass board will. There’s going to be many wipe-outs guaranteed.
NOTE: A soft top longboard is not a longboard. Longboards are long and heavy, glassed with resin.
BEGINNER SURFBOARD CHARACTERISTICS:
- Design – Round and volumic
- Rocker – Flat Rocker
- Volume – At least 50 liters. 22 inches wide, 3 inches thick.
- Dimensions – 8 ft and over
If you have already learned the basics and starting to stand up on a board. Usually, surfers go through the first phase of surfing on a foam board rather quickly. Once they are through the first phase – It is reasonable to get a mal or fun board and step down in the size of the surfboard. Those boards are about 6-8 feet long, rather wide & round and will let you do turns and even try to duck-dive. Great step-up.
RELATED: NSP Hybrid
Volume – 40–50 Litres
Best Surfboard For Intermediate Surfer
Once you are competent enough and starting to enjoy the sport, many intermediate surfers will find themselves wondering about which surfboard to try next.
There are two main ways to choose if you have gone through the beginner’s phase. A performance surfing where you are riding powerful waves, or a laid-back style? Do you already want to jump on a performance shortboard or stick to the cruisy hybrids or mal boards?
Well, it depends on the style of riding you are doing or about to do. Many people don’t feel intimidated by the heavy & rumbling waves and much rather turn to a more laid-back option like having a longboard. Also, as you have just become from the beginner surfer background – it is advisable not to get a performance shortboard just yet. Instead, you could get the hybrid that lets you ride all sorts of waves.
Best all-rounder surfboard for an intermediate surfer for sure. Hence the name Hybrid – is a mixture between a short- and a longboard. A Hybrid surfboard gives you a glimpse of all sorts of waves what’s out there. As an intermediate surfer – you are probably still looking at what kind of riding you are doing – aggressive or passive – and the hybrid board lets you do both at a certain level. It’s got the speed on small waves, maneuverability and later take-off capabilities on larger waves.
- Design – Narrow but plenty of volumes
- Rocker – Medium Rocker
- Volume – 30-40 Litres
- Dimensions – 6-7 ft
Lets you ride very small waves for long distance with little effort. Since longboards are long and heavy in their size – they float very well. Unlike the soft-top foam-board – a longboard can injure you or others easily if not ridden carefully. Make sure to always protect your head when you fall down from the board and try not to ditch your board around others.
- Design – Long, Round and Heavy
- Rocker – Flat Rocker
- Volume – 60+ Litres
- Dimensions – 8 ft
Best Surfboards for Advanced Surfers
Once you have master riding the previous boards, there’s only one type left that’ll fulfill your needs on the good surf. The black belt in surfing.
Shortboard enables you to ride those nice powerful waves provided by heavy swells. Those boards have the least amount foam in them in order to dive smoothly under the waves and narrow design to allow sharp turns. Due to the narrow design, a shortboard can be surfed on steep, fast and hollow waves. They are very maneuverable!
The shortboard is built for performance where there’s no more to give or take. To know if the board is perfect for you, it must be about your height and float enough. How much is enough volume on a shortboard?
The board has got the right volume for you – when you are sitting on your board and the water level is around your chest area. If the board water level is around your belly – your board might have too much volume in it.
- Design – Narrow
- Rocker – Heavy Rocker
- Volume – 25-35 Litres
- Dimensions – Around 6 ft