BY RYAN CABEAZAS (@Ryanshapes)
So you decided that you love surfing. Enough to want your very own surfboard, or maybe even a few. With so many options nowadays, things can get confusing. Let this guide help you pick the right board so that you stay stoked.
Persistence and picking the right surfboard is key
Surfing is hard. Once you have taken a few lessons, you realize that that huge barrel you imagined yourself standing inside of, is going to take more time to accomplish than you might have imagined. Being persistent and picking the right board to suit your ability, can be key to getting the most out of surfing.
If you’re a beginner – Go soft
Soft surfboards are the perfect beginner board. They let you get away with a lot of mistakes that you make as a beginner, without causing injuries to yourself or others. Until you have learned to fully control your board, keep it soft for your own safety, as well as the other surfers in the water. Some people prefer to stay on the soft board because they are a safe, easy and cheap way to just catch a couple of waves without taking things too seriously. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you want to get the most out of surfing, your equipment needs to progress with your ability.
”Your next board choice is an important one. It can make the difference between lots of fun, or total frustration”
After a whole summer on the softboard you’re feeling in control. You’re beginning to ride waves and the softy feels well…… sluggish. It may be time to move on to something more interesting. Your next board choice is an important one. It can make the difference between lots of fun, or total frustration. It’s important to be realistic about your current abilities and your surfing goals.
Longboards and Mini-mal’s
Longboards are fun! Especially in small, weaker waves. Beginner surfers do best in these kinds of waves because they allow you to make mistakes without consequences. This accelerates the learning curve and keeps it fun. A longboard is the ideal board for the transition from soft, to hard boards and a good board to keep around for the smaller days, even if you move on to something shorter. If a longboard feels hard to control, try out a mini-mal’s (mini-longboard). They are just as stable and floaty as a longboard but a little easier to manage. A true longboard starts at 9’0 feet. Mini-mal’s are typically between 7’0 and 9’0 feet in length.
Performance hybrid shapes
If longboarding isn’t for you, the performance hybrid shape may be what you’re looking for. Picking a performance hybrid shape is easy. It should be only slightly longer than you are tall, and be at least 20 inches wide, and a minimum of 2 ½ inches thick. It gives most of the benefits of a shortboard such as maneuverability and agility, but with only slightly less wave catching ability than a longboard. For many surfers, especially those who started surfing later in life, this is the ideal everyday board. You aren’t going to win a surfing championship on it but that’s not your cup of tea anyway. Another cool thing about these boards is that you can ride a smaller version of the same board once your surfing progresses.
Twin fin fish and retro mid-lengths
A twin fin fish, or maybe a retro mid length single fin is also a good option for those looking to keep it groovy. If you keep your longboard you already have a nice little quiver to surf anywhere. Personally, I enjoy the more performance-oriented surfboard designs, but I do enjoy riding a single fin or twinnie from time to time. It’s a totally different feeling of glide, and it’s fun to go out and just cruise.
Not having fun? Try changing it up
Whatever your choice is, just remember, if you’ve put in the time, and you’re not having fun, it may be time to change it up. Try that pill shaped mini hybrid, or go retro with a twin fin fish, or get cruisy with a mid-length single fin. The more boards you try, the more you know what you’re looking for.
Support your local shaper
Getting a custom-made surfboard from your local shaper may be the best way to get a board that suits your abilities and the local conditions. Getting a custom-built surfboard is as old as surfing itself. Building a relationship with your local shaper is the fastest way to get to your ideal board – and at the same time supporting your local economy and keeping this traditional art form alive. Research local shapers in your area and turn that dream board that’s in your mind into a reality.