How To Choose The Right Size Surfboard?
To match your skillset and types of waves on your local surf break – picking the right SIZE and TYPE of surfboard is a crucial step to maximize your time in the surf.
PS! Already have a surfboard, but don’t know the Volume in liters?
Check out the Slide-Bar Surfboard Volume Calculator
Which Type Of Surfboard Is Right For Me?
Unfortunately, there is NO “size Small, Medium or Large.”
The rule of thumb when choosing a surfboard comes down to:
1. DESIGN (TYPE OF THE BOARD)
2. VOLUME (SIZE OF THE BOARD)
3. DIMENSIONS (HOW LONG & WIDE IS THE BOARD)
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 designed to perform on more powerful waves and better conditions.
Beginner surfers are better off starting with a surfboard that’s round so that they could get the touch of balance. Generally, rounder surfboards are also larger for easy paddling and take-offs and forgive the mistakes many beginners tend to make when surfing.
The most known types of surfboards are:
- Shortboard – narrow
- Fish – narrow nad round (volumic)
- Hybrid – round < narrow
- Fun/Mal – round
- Soft-Top Foamboard – round shape
- Longboard – round shape
+ Cruisy and smooth
+ Great for small and slow waves
+ Flatter rocker = easy and fast paddling, early take offs
– Difficult for sharp turns
– Usually, more volume which makes it hard to duck-dive
+ Good for turns and deep sections – manuverability
+ Great for fast waves and late take-offs
– Needs steeper wave for speed
– More rocker = Hard to paddle, more drag
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 riding the waves.
MORE ROCKER = STRONGER ROCKER
Most shortboards are designed with heavy rocker for late takeoffs late from a steep waves without nose-diving the board. A right amount of rocker is also suitable for riding on hollow waves – where you have to adjust riding the line quite often and fast.
Heavy rocker creates more drag and is harder to paddle.
LESS ROCKER = FLATTER ROCKER
Longboards, Soft-top foam boards, and mal boards are designed with a relaxed rocker, other times called flat rocker. Ideal for small waves 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 the board – the easier it will be to move forward, but it can limit the riding on more demanding conditions.
Nose rocker vs. Tail rocker
Some hybrids have a mixture of bottom curvatures. Performance-orientated hyrid surfboards generally have flatter tail rocker and a “lifted” nose. This is good since there’s still plenty of flat curvature on the bottom for easy paddling and power and the lifted nose prevents any nose-diving.
Why it isn’t good to have rocker? When the surfboard is not entirely flat like most longboards – it still creates more drag. More drag = slower paddle speed.
What is the surfboard volume? Volume is the amount of space (foam) the surfboard occupies – 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 important when choosing a surfboard? The sweet spot for every rider is +/- 5 liters. It’s better to have the right size dimensions and type of surfboard than having a wrong kind of board with the correct amount of liters.
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 type and volume, not just by the length of the board.
Larger/Longer/Wider Size Board
+ Easy to paddle due to large floating area
+ Easy to ride on small to medium and weak waves
– Not as maneuverable
– Hard and inconvenient to duck-dive
Short 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
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′
The widest part measures thickness. 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 critical factor since the board will be sliding down the wave. The longer the board – the thicker it has to be 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 it will be harder to duck dive under the waves.
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 entirely 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 large board. The touch of balance is entirely different since the moving and unpredictable shape of the wave behind and under your feet. The long and wide soft board will forgive on beginner’s mistakes 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. Twenty-two 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 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 that’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 more massive 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 always to protect your head when you fall from the board and try not to ditch your board around others.
- Design – Long, Round and Heavy
- Rocker – Flat Rocker
- Volume – 60+ Litres
- Dimensions – 8-10 ft
Read more about the longboard size guide from HERE
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 beautiful, powerful waves provided by heavy swells. Those boards have the least amount foam in them 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