Before you hit the waves important decision you need to make is what surfboard to use. Unfortunately, while expert surfers have the experience to know how to figure out which board is best, most beginners (and many intermediate surfers) don’t have any idea where to start.
While there are many factors that you need to weigh, the four that play the biggest role are:
- Level of skill
It is best if beginners use soft-top boards that have good volume and stability. The foam on soft-top boards will make them more buoyant, and the volume will make it easier to balance. On the other hand, intermediate or advanced surfers can try a wider selection of boards based on their ability and favored wave types. However intermediate surfers may not want to venture into ‘high performance’ surfboards until they’re more skilled.
- Level of fitness
Aside from skill level, fitness is also an important factor. Even if a surfer is skilled it may be better for them to use a wider or thicker board that has less drag if they’re older or their fitness level is not that high. The lesser drag will make it easier for them to paddle when catching waves.
By that same token, a similarly skilled surfer who does have good fitness levels won’t worry as much about tiring themselves out when paddling. As such they may choose a thinner or slimmer board to get more performance while on the wave.
- Height and weight
Both height and weight are important when figuring out what board to get. Heavier and taller surfers may benefit from a wider board with more volume that is stable and easier to control.
- Wave type
Most avid surfers own a selection of surfboards simply because different types of boards work better on different wave types. For big waves, you’ll normally want to choose between tow-ins, pintails, or guns – whereas for medium waves you can use a shortboard, fish, evolutionary, retro, Malibu, longboard, or round-tail. As for small waves, a longboard works fine – as would a square tail or swallowtail.
Starting to have a rough idea of what factors affect your choice of surfboard? Don’t worry too much if you feel a bit confused – if you’re a beginner that’s really quite normal. In fact, at first, you should keep it simple and stick to a soft-top with high volume until you master your basic skills and are more familiar with the waves.
Even then, before you actually buy your next surfboard try to ask an expert at the Newquay surf school for recommendations. At the very least they can advise you on what to look for based on your size, skill level, and the types of waves you intend to surf.
Of course, that personal preference is also at play when choosing a surfboard. The ‘best’ surfboard you can choose is one that is suitable and feels like a good fit while letting you enjoy the waves.