How To: Choose the Right Surfboard
Choosing the right surfboard is a large part of what will make your early surfing sessions an epic success or a frustrating, stationary, experience in the ocean. The most important rule when it comes to choosing a surf board is this:
It is all about catching waves, and catching as many waves as possible.
Looking cool carrying a shortboard down from the car to the beach feels good. Getting into the water and missing wave after wave is quite possibly the worst feeling, ever.
The first step in choosing the right board is to know where you want to get to in the future. Sit back, close your eyes and imagine yourself surfing in the future. What do you see?
The image that you see will help you determine what kind of board you want to end up riding and will help determine where to start in order to make that a reality.
If you imagined yourself ripping up and down a wave, you are most likely going to end up on a shortboard, some variation thereof. This is awesome, BUT, it will require substantially more practice and more patience/progression to get proficient at riding waves with this kind of board.
If you see yourself hanging 10 and walking up and down the length of your board while riding for ages, you’re probably going to end up long boarding. This is awesome too, BUT, using a long board brings its own set of challenges as it relates to paddling out into the lineup and being mobile.
In either case, your first board should do a few things:
For those new to surfing, and regardless of what kind of board you ultimately want to ride, it is hard to wrong with a foamie. A foamie is a board that is made with packed foam and resin as opposed to fiberglass or epoxy. They are inexpensive, durable and make it easy to catch waves.
1. Buoyancy is the core concept of catching a wave. If you aren’t floaty enough, the wave won’t pick you up for a ride. Surfboard volume = buoyancy. In general foamies have a high volume that helps you paddle into waves easier and provides great stability as you get up.
2. Foamies come in all shapes and sizes. Using foamies does not require that you start with a 10’0 long board. Since all foamies have a great deal of volume, if you want to rip on a shortboard, you can start with a 7’0 foamie that will progress you toward that gnarly 5’11 that you so badly want to paddle out on.
3. Foamies cost around $300.00. If you break it (which is likely) they are easy to replace. New glass boards start around $650 and other more progressive materials, even more. Remember, you are going to beat the heck out of this board, don’t make your wallet take a beating at the same time.
4. It comes with everything you need. You don’t need to wax a foamie, they come with a leash and they come with fins. All it takes is you picking it up and walking to the water.
You will never forget your first surfboard. Making the right choice as you start to get into the water will make the learning process infinitely easier. Start with a foamie and think about the kind of board you want to end up riding. Your search for the right board will never end. As you get better, you will need better equipment. The best place to start any journey is at the beginning. Set yourself up for success on the right board and you have no choice but to get better!