6 Jul 2016
Choosing the Best Surf Board for You
The board you ride makes all the difference to your surfing. Choosing the right board for the waves and your experience can affect whether you have a great ride or a frustrating time in the surf.
There is a different board to suit every type of surfer.
One of the most common mistakes that new surfers make in choosing a board is that they want to start off riding short boards similar to the ones they see professional surfers ride. Short boards usually have a very pulled in or pointy nose, are not very thick in the body and are usually 6 foot or under in length.
The problem with a beginner or inexperienced surfer riding a short board is that these boards are designed to be very responsive in the water, their reduced surface size makes them turn easily to do ‘cut backs’ and other manoeuvres; but what this means for the new surfer is that they are really hard to balance on for both lying on the board and also for standing up and riding a wave!
Also, because they are light and thin, when they are paddled in the water, the surfer’s body is half immersed in the ocean rather than lying on top of it, so it creates a lot more drag and they need a lot of upper body strength to get up the speed to paddle onto most waves.
So what happens to inexperienced surfers who ride short boards is that they struggle to catch unbroken (or ’green’) waves because they can’t paddle fast enough and when they do get up they find it hard to stand up to ride the wave and fall off very easily….not much fun really!
The best boards to ride when you are first learning are long boards which are also commonly known as Malibu boards (named after the famous long boarding surf break of Malibu in California).
A Malibu Style Board
Long boards are generally wide overall having a full nose area, are long, starting from around 8 + feet, and are 2” to 3” thick. They are perfect for learning as the board is very stable for riding and because they float high in the water it makes them very easy to paddle onto waves. I think of them as the ‘instant gratification’ surfboard as its is so easy to catch waves and have a fun ride in most conditions. They are great for learning the basic skills of surfing because you get lots of practice when you can paddle successfully on to waves and also once you catch the wave you can work on improving your skills instead of having to put all your focus on just trying standing up on the board!
After mastering your balance on a long board and developing the basic skills, many surfers often move onto Fun boards, Mini Mals or Hybrids. These are either a shorter version of a long board or a hybrid / combo of long board and short board features. They are most often between 7ft to 8ft long and are still quite thick (around 2” ).
There is a reason they are often referred to as ‘fun boards’ as they are ideal for most recreational surfers as they have a high degree of manoeuvrability on the wave, while still being stable to balance on and floaty enough to keep it fairly easy in paddling onto waves…so your pretty much going to have a good time when you go out surfing!
The important thing to remember when choosing a board is start BIG and move your way down in size as your skills improve. Even for experienced surfers, smaller doesn’t always mean better, there are many surfers who love to ride only Malibu boards and skilled wave riders turn surfing these boards into an art form with graceful dance like moves that require amazing balance and timing.
The main thing is to have fun and the simplest way to do this is to ride boards and waves that are suitable to your surfing level, fitness and experience.
Live Well, Laugh Lots and Surf with a Smile!