Choosing the right board for you.
If you are just getting started in surfing then it is important to buy the right board for your skills. Surfboards that are suitable for learners are always in demand, so even though you may only use the board for a few months they are well worth the investment. Provided they are kept in good condition they should hold their price well. Buying a board to learn on will make your time in the water more enjoyable and the progression to a more advanced board quicker and easier.
Now that you are ready to start looking at beginner surfboards, here are a few guidelines to help make you sense of the information provided by the surfboard manufactures.
Choosing you first surfboards length can be determined sometimes by what's available in a budget price. Try and go for something in the range of 16- 20 inches longer than yourself. It's a strange thing but the more length of board you have in the water, within reason, the easier it is to paddle. This is because their is more foam underneath you but also you are more balanced on the board making for less dead weight. When starting your on your surfing lessons you don't want to be hindered by a lack of flotation , you want to be catching as many waves as you can, and until your arms develop their paddling strength, you need all the flotation you can get, and help to keep you motivated.
Like the length, width thickness means flotation. For thickness this means a surfboard with about 2 and a half inches of foam. Its thickest point should be near the halfway point of your surfboard.
Most modern surfboard widths these days are around the 18 to 19 inches. Choose something more towards 19 inches. It'll give more stability and will be a lot easier to sit on while waiting for a wave, and like the extra length it too will aid in the paddling department. The waves you'll be practicing in initially will be fairly small, most likely in the one to three foot range, and as a beginner you'll stand heavy on your board, so a bit of width will give you more feeling under foot.
The widest point of a surfboard is usually found just forward of the centre point and then running back towards the tail for about 3 inches. By increasing the width of the nose of a surfboard you will aid it in paddling. Shapers use this trick to hide a little extra foam in a surfboard. This has the effect of drawing the plan shape or outline out, so the widest point will be a little longer. Measure back from the tip of the nose 12 inches or 300 mm and if the measurement is around eleven and a half inces to twelve inches then this is quite a good width nose and should paddle easy. For the beginner a board whose nose seems a little wide is better. Now measure 12 inches back up from the tail along the centre. Measure across the surfboard at right angles. If it reads something around 14 inches that'll be good. At this stage dont worry too much about the actual shape of the tail but a rounded square or round tail is probably the most suitable.
Short Boards (For the more advanced)
Short boards tend to be the most popular type of surfboard. Short boards handle more conditions, ride tighter in the pocket, are more maneuverable, and go faster than any other board. Short boards are not the easiest boards to ride, but once you have spent time on them, they become easy to ride.
Short boards are generally defined as high performance shapes that run anywhere from 5'6" up to around 7'0" and are between 17" and 20" wide. The dimensions vary depending on the rider's size and experience, as well as personal preference. Thicknesses vary from under 2" to about 3". Nose widths usually vary between 10" and 12" while tails are usually between 12" and 15" although lately there has been a lot of variation in the nose and tail widths. Almost all current short boards are tri-fins although there are also 5 fin models.
What else do I need to go Surfing?
Leg ropes attach to your board and to your leg, usually just above the ankle, and help prevent your board going astray or washing away from you when you come off. When you are learning the waves will usually be smallish and you will not be too far away from the beach so choose an appropriate leg rope, you will not need the toughest one available. What you will need is one that has a swivel, can be easily attached or detached from your board.
Surf Wax helps add traction to your board when you start to stand up. There are numerous types of wax available but as a guide when you are learning look for a wax that can be used all year round. Never over wax your board and keep it clean. A wax comb is also a good investment. These can be used to clean off excess wax or to roughen up the existing wax, helping to add traction.
Definitely a good idea. When you are learning you will spend a lot of time in and under the water. A wetsuit will help keep you warm and allow you to enjoy surfing rather than shivering. If your budget can afford it then a steamer with full arms and legs is recommended. See our wetsuit selection for more information about how to choose the correct wetsuit.
Body boards are a great alternative to a surfboard. Smaller and easier to pack away they can be used by all members of your family.
Choosing the right Body Board for you.
When sizing a body board that's right for you, a general rule of thumb is to pick a board that comes to your belly button. A smaller board is easy to handle while a larger board will be more stable.
Board width is measured at the widest point on the board and is critical because it is directly related to overall curve of the template. A board with a large difference between the nose width and mid width will be very "curvy". This type of board will turn very quickly. Having a small difference between the nose and width will keep a "straight" template, normally used in larger waves for long drawn out turns.
The board core is the inside of the body board and determines the strength and flexibility of the board. Polyethylene (PE) is the most common core used in body boards and it works well in most conditions. It has a good memory and flex for turning.
Safety Warning: Never venture in the surf on a body board without fins!