Choosing the right surfboard has everything to do with the kind of experience you are looking for. Do you want the ride of your life in the surfboard equivalent of a Ferrari or a pleasant, leisurely Sunday jaunt in a Cadillac?
Here are some tips to help you find the right board:
Size matters. There once was a time when there were two sizes: long and short. Nowadays, there are hundreds of sizes and styles that fall in between. And, it all matters. it’s not just about the length. If you are a beginner, start with a long board (9 feet or longer) until you find your balance and build up your strength. A common mistake for beginning surfers is to ride boards that are too small only to be frustrated by their inability to catch waves and balance on the board. You may not catch “big air” with larger boards, but you will catch more waves and paddle circles around the guy on the shortboard in two-foot surf. The number of choices we have now allow you to choose what suits you.
Volume matters too. With size, comes volume… And with volume, you get a board that paddles and floats easier. If you find yourself having trouble catching waves, a larger board with more volume may help (especially when surf is small). If you find yourself having trouble balancing on your board, (again) a larger board with more volume may help. The tradeoff: a larger board is more difficult to maneuver. Whatever floats your board.
Don’t forget board design. Surfboard shapers all over the world are designing surfboards with different shapes, different number of fins, different materials, and other stuff… They are pushing the limits of surfboard design to new limits. Despite this, the one thing to remember is: not all surfboard shapes and designs will work with your “style” of surfing.
So… try out different shapes and designs until you find one or more boards that work for you and your “style”.
What’s in your quiver? You will probably need a range of boards for each type of wave you encounter. A long board for those small relaxing days. A shorter board for large wave days. For those pounding double overhead days, you might need a 6’+ gun. Having a large variety of boards in your quiver will increase your chances of using the correct board at the right time for the right surf. (I travel with two boards at all times… surf is like a box of chocolates, You never know what you’re gonna get… so, it’s best to be prepared for all conditions).
Don’t worry about finding the perfect board. There isn’t one. There is only the perfect board for you. If you’re not sure (and you will be if you stick with surfing for a while) keep looking for that “magic” board. Keep trying new boards with different designs, lengths, and shapes. If you’re one of the select few, the elite in the line-up, who have a shaper, tell your shaper to make something different. If you can’t afford a shaper or a “new” board (like me), buy the board from the “kook” down the street who can’t even swim. That’s what OrphanBoards is about (finding “good” homes for neglected, “bad” boards). Happy Surfboard Hunting! We wish you well in your search for a “magical” board.
Fish designs (have more volume and paddle easy, fast, loose, good for smaller surf)
Gun Designs (larger design with narrow noses and tails, designed for stability in big waves)
Longboard Designs (good choice for beginners, decreased maneuverability, good for small surf)
Shortboard Designs (great for riding vertically, best for more experienced surfers)