Choosing the right surfboard for you can be rather daunting especially when you consider the wide array of choices available. From the types of surfboards to tail design and everything else in between, it can be easy for new surfers to drown amidst the plethora of information they need to digest while looking for the perfect surfboard for them. That’s why we have this surfboard buying guide right here to provide you with all the information you need on how to buy a surfboard, covering everything you need to know from how your physical attributes and personal fitness influences your choice of surfboard and to the actual parts of the surfboard and more.
Considerations When Choosing a Surfboard
Before you start checking out the different surfboard styles and designs and other surf gear and gadgets you’d like to buy, you first need to consider those factors pertaining to you and the environment where you will be surfing.
- Skill Level. Those who are new to surfing can opt for a beginner type surfboard like a foam surfboard or soft top board with a wide, round nose and a wider tail. These surfboards will have plenty of volume and offer better stability in the water. These features will make it easier for the surfer to paddle across the water and make it easier for them to stand up when riding the waves.
- Fitness Level. You should also consider your fitness level when choosing a board. For instance, surfers with weaker stamina and endurance should consider getting a surfboard that is a little thicker and slightly wider. This will provide them with more paddling power and at the same time offer enough performance for an enjoyable time in the water.
- Height and Weight. A person’s height and weight should also be taken into account when choosing a surfboard. Needless to say, the bigger you are, the bigger your surfboard should be. There are some calculators around the net that can help you determine the perfect surfboard size and volume that is most suitable for your height and weight. However, use these calculators only as a guide since they don’t always take other elements into consideration when doing the calculation.
- Type of Wave. Finally, think about the type of waves that you will be surfing in. For instance, if you’ll be surfing in medium-sized waves then you can do with a good all-around shortboard. Take note though that waves will differ from beach to beach, and this is one reason why many surfers have a quiver or a selection of surfboards ready. The idea of having to cancel a surfing adventure simply because their surfboard is not suitable for the type of wave in the area doesn’t sit well with them. If you identify as part of that group, then you’ll want to invest in your own quiver.
Types of Surfboards
Surfboards are available in a variety of styles and types, and listed below are some of the most common ones that you’ll see around. There may be other types of surfboards available, but they’re usually an off-shoot or merely a modified version of the ones below.
- The shortboard is the most widely used type of surfboard everywhere. Majority of the surfers you see on the beach will be using these. However, these are not the best type of surfboards for beginners since they are small, difficult to paddle and less volume. This means that they have less flotation, and this can make it difficult for beginners to manage. However, they are very popular among regular surfers since it allows them to perform tricks like airs, off the lips, barrels and others. Shortboards are also easier to turn, do duck dives, and respond fairly quickly to critical sections of the waves.
- Longboards, as the name suggests, are longer typically reaching over nine feet in length and have a rounded or blunt nose, plenty of forward width, and wide tails. Unlike shortboards, longboards are easier to paddle and enter any wave quickly. For beginners, this is the surfboard of choice since it planes very well and quite stable because they have lots of buoyancy.
- Fish surfboards are basically shortboards but they tend to be wider from nose to tail. These are most suitable for use in small to medium waves where they plane better and generate significant amounts of speed. Many beginning surfers who have enough experience with longboards usually go for fish surfboards before moving onto actual shortboards.
- Guns are larger versions of the shortboard and are used primarily for extreme surfing conditions like big and fast waves that only extreme sports athletes would brave. They are quite easy to paddle and will enter waves with no problem, but because of their size they are more difficult to turn. Guns are not very popular because the wave conditions where they perform best aren’t very numerous.
- Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP). Stand up paddleboards are larger than longboards, thus providing more volume and stability for the rider. However, SUPs are propelled forward by using a paddle, which is why some purists have trouble considering this as an actual surfboard. Nonetheless, the use of SUPs, especially inflatable stand up paddleboards, is very popular and you can see them on lakes and large rivers aside from the beach. Some enthusiasts even bring their dogs along with them while paddleboarding.
Surfboard Tail Design
Another important part of the surfboard is the tail as it influences the surfboard’s hold and release on the surface of the wave, and their designs also evolved as different types of surfboards came about.
- Square Tail. The square tail has pointed corners as can be gleaned from the name. These pointed corners create more square turns with less release and more bite.
- The roundtails follows the surfboard’s contour and comes to a rounded end. This design gives it more surface area, which in turn provides the surfboard with more lift in the rear and makes it easier to turn. Mostly seen in shortboards where maneuverability is essential, roundtails help to direct water around the end of the surfboard and provides for better stability.
- Pintails. The pintail has minimal surface area and come to a point at the end with a little curve. This design provides for maximum control and surface hold, and the minimal surface area decreases the lift on the tail and allows the point to dig into the face of the wave. That said, pintails aren’t easy to maneuver but it does allow the board to track or maintain direction while riding a wave instead of swerving or snaking.
- Roundpin Tail. The roundpin is a variation of the pintail and is wider and has a bit more curve. They can be seen in many shortboards, longboards, and some other types of surfboards. The roundpin’s design have less release and creates a smoother and more drawn out turn, making it ideal for medium size waves.
- Squash Tail. Like roundtails, squash tails are common among many shortboards because of their responsiveness. It provides all the surface and planning area of a roundtail while providing a bit more bite and control thanks to the rounded corners. The overall design contributes to speed, lift, and allows for more pivotal, abrupt turns.
- Swallow Tail. The swallow tail design is commonly seen in fish type surfboards and provides more surface area from rail to rail allowing for planing speed and lift. It has two soft points due to the ‘V’ cutout giving it decreased surface area. However, the decreased surface area gives the board more bite and control when doing critical maneuvers or when going in and out of turns.
There are several other tail designs available out there, and we can only expect more to come as surfers and manufacturers continuously look to better their surfboards. It can be easy to get confused when looking at tail designs and choosing which one suits you best. Nonetheless, you simply need to remember that more angular tails (like the square tail) creates more angular turns, whereas rounded tails (like the roundtail and roundpin tails) creates smoother turns. Also, a narrower tail will hold waves much better but have poorer turning ability and speed than a wider one.
Many beginning surfers often forget about the surfboard fins simply because they’re not always visible unless you turn the surfboard upside down to apply surf wax or hold it up vertically. However, the fins are actually crucial to the overall performance of the surfboard. There are different types of surfboard fins, each of which has their own pros and cons.
- Single Fin. Single fins are the most traditional fin configuration and is usually seen in longboards. They offer great stability and control and are best used in fast and straight line surfing since turning abilities are limited with this type of fin configuration. Single fins can be moved forward or backward in the fin box (slots where the fins are installed). Moving it forward gives your board a looser feel while moving it backward gives it better control.
- Dual Whereas single fins are common in longboards, dual or twin fins are more suited for shortboards. Dual fin configurations give the surfboard a looser feel making it more maneuverable and playful. It also enhances the shortboard’s speed and provide longer and more drawn out turns.
- Tri Fin. Tri fin or thruster configurations are perhaps the most popular fin configuration nowadays and can be seen in various types of surfboards. Here, the two outer fins are installed closer to the middle of the board and the third center fin is installed closer to the tail. This type of fin configuration adds stability, control and maneuverability to the board which makes it great for beginning surfers.
- Quad Fin. Quad fins are generally used in smaller surfs since they enhance speed by channeling water to the end of the surfboard and out the tail. The two fins installed near the rails also provides stability and gives more hold when surfing in big waves.
- 5-Fin. First off, a five fin configuration doesn’t mean that you’ll be surfing with all fie fins at a single time. Instead, it is meant to be modified into single fin, dual fins, or other fin configurations to suit the surfer’s preferences and match the wave conditions.
- 2+1 Fin. 2+1 fin configurations are not the same as a tri fin configuration. With 2+1 fin configurations, you have a longboard fin box in the middle and 2 regular thruster fin boxes on the sides. This configuration allows you to move the center fin forward or backward depending on your preference. They are not very popular just yet, but they can be seen in many stand up paddleboards.
The rails refer to the edge of the surfboard and run from the nose all the way down to the tail of the surfboard. Like other parts of the surfboard, rails also play a crucial role in the overall performance of the surfboard since the shape of the rails determine how the water flows over them while the surfboard is planing or turning. Needless say, different rail shapes are suitable for different conditions.
- Hard Rails. Hard rails to give the surfboard’s edges a more angular design which makes it more capable of cutting through the water’s edges better. This in turn makes the surfboard plane easier and turn quicker. The angular edges on the tail also helps improve maneuverability and speed. However, hard rails also make it difficult to perform pivotal turns. That said, this rail design is more suitable for high performance shortboards.
- Soft Rails. Soft rails are nice and rounded, forming a smooth semi-circle from the bottom to the surface of the surfboard. This rail design can be seen in longboards and comes with plenty of advantages. For one, a fuller and softer rail will help you paddle into more waves and help you maintain speed in the flats of the wave. Second, they provide excellent stability and plenty of drive. Despite these advantages, soft rails do have their drawbacks such as they produce too much drag and don’t turn as easily as hard rails.
Globo Surf Overview
The surfboard buying guide above and all the points and information is shares on how to buy a surfboard is a good starting point for those who are still planning to get into surfing. When it comes to buying a surfboard, you need to make sure that you are familiar with the different parts of the surfboard and how they contribute to its overall performance since this in turn will be critical to how much you’ll enjoy surfing.
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- Intermediate Surfing Tips
- Surfing Wipeout