This post is for the new surfers out there. Choosing a surfboard at the beginning can be confusing. I remember it took a lot of rentals and second hand surfboards before I knew what kind of board would be best for me. There are so many different shapes and sizes to choose from, not to mention the options you have in the fin-department!
It’s best to be completely honest about your surfing level when you talk to the person you want to buy your board from. Even the most experienced surfers started out with a soft top – also called a spongy. Each surfboard is shaped for a particular purpose, depending on what type of break you’ll be riding, what your aim is in surfing, and of course, what feels right for you. You should also take into account your height and body weight. You’ll be missing out on a lot of waves if your board isn’t the right size for your build. The more you surf, the more you’ll discover your surfing style. It’s like walking, every person does it differently.
As a good friend once told me: “You need to find a board which allows you to catch the most waves. That’s how you improve, and that’s how you enjoy it.”
Length: 9 ft or longer – round nose – round tale – a lot of volume.
This one is great on the smaller waves, and will become more challenging when the swell gets bigger. There are different opinions wether a longboard is a good board for beginners. Personally I don’t think it’s the easiest board to start with, but why not? Practice makes art. I consider longboarding more a discipline on it’s own, it’s a totally unique style. Longboarding is a smooth, ‘cruise-ish’ way of surfing, but once you know how to handle a longboard, it can be powerful when you’re riding heavier waves. For more speed you walk towards the nose and to slow down you step back to the tail. This is called cross-stepping and it’s not as easy as it looks!
Nowadays some of the longboards are shaped with more rocker and less volume, which allows you to get more speed and turn strongly. Rocker is the vertical curve of the board between nose and tail. The rocker can be steeply curved (heavy) or less curved (relaxed), it can be continuous, which means it’s a single curve between the tip of the nose and tail, or staged, which means there is a flat section in the middle of the board.
The Mini malibu or fun board
Length: 7″0 to 8″0 ft – wide, round nose – wide tail
A perfect board for beginners. Because the Mini Malibu has more buoyancy, it offers a lot of stability in the water. It’s smaller than a longboard, and so is easier to paddle out trough the brake, but bigger than a shortboard so your take-offs are easier too. All this makes practicing your technique, while catching lots of waves much more achievable, and tonnes of fun. That’s why it’s been affectionately nicknamed the Funboard. Its guaranteed that this size of board will allow you to surf a wider range of swell-conditions.
Even when your surfing-abillity has improved and you want to graduate to a smaller shape, a Mini Malibu is always a good one to have in your board collection.
Length: 5″0 to 6″0 ft. – Round nose – swallow or fish tail shape – wide with a lot of volume.
The fish has a wider outline through the nose, centre and tail and is mostly recognized by it’s swallow-tail shape. This board has a low rocker profile and a lot of buoyancy, making it very stable, easy to paddle out through the break, and ideal for speed on smaller, softer waves.
Because of the shape of the tail water can flow past easily, which in turn increases speed. This might feel a bit too fast at the beginning, but don’t give up, this board will help you catch lots of waves.
Length: 5″0-7″0 ft – more pointy nose – less wider tail.
Shortboards tend to be smaller and thinner, with more rocker. This gives it more manoeuvrability and, after it was introduced in the late 60’s, it opened up a whole new style of explosive surfing.
It has less floatability than wider, bigger boards, which makes it harder for beginners – you need to have the more paddle-strength and technique, and to be faster on your feet while taking off. What’s good about its size is that it’s easier to duck dive, which saves a lot of energy getting through the break!
The gun – big wave board
length: 7″0 to 9″0 ft. – pointy, sharp nose and tail.
The gun is specifically designed for big wave charging. It’s longer with a sharp nose and tail for stability, and has a thicker volume so it’s easier to paddle out. This board isn’t made for taking sharp, radical turns, but more for keeping a straight line while dropping in from an incredible height.
Whenever you feel you want to become a big wave surfer, keep in mind that this is a big challenge and requires a lot of experience, technique, physical and mental training – and nerve! On the upside, you will experience your life and the sea on a whole other level when dropping a +30ft wave.
Also known as ‘spongies’, they are mostly used by surf schools and beginners. These boards are strong enough to survive a rough handling, and not as painful as other boards when you get cracked on the head. Catching waves and keeping your balance is already challenging without having to keep an eye on your board and your surrounding. As a newbie I was happy with my sponge. It got me through the beginning days and beginning waves.
Usually made out of a polyurethane foam, and solidified with one or more stringers down the middle of the board. A stringer – usually made of wood – is the line drawn from nose to tail to increase a surfboard’s strength. The foam comes in a sort of blank, rough shape of a surfboard, then to be cut, planed, and sanded to it’s required shape. Afterwards they cover it up with fiberglass cloth and resin. Another material they use is polystyrene foam or, as in the old days, wood.
Did you know ancient hawaiians used Koa-wood to make the first surfboards? Can’t beat the oldschool!
When you’re at a good surfing level and you tried out different boards, you will probably even think about buying a custom shaped board. Together with your shaper you can create a surfboard that will fit your desires, and style the most. These days shapers have been having a difficult time since mass-production offers ready made surfboards, for a more affordable price. Shaping a surfboard can cost more, and take a longer time to produce. But, when you buy with a shaper you know there will be lot of dedication and hard work put into your shaping your board exactly how you want it. Your board will be handcrafted, unique and perfectly matching your style.
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