By Kent Senatore
Tore Surfboards, North Shore, Oahu - Hawaii
What Type of Board Should
You Start With?
I just started surfing. What kind of board should I ride?
If you're a beginner, choosing the right board is easy.
You really only need to consider catching waves at this
point, so don't worry about complex design elements. Instead,
concentrate on getting the correct size (length, width,
thickness) and type of board. Most people will tell you
to get a longboard, which
is good advice, but it's not your only option.
If your goal is to maneuver you should try a mid size
funboard surfboard or egg
shape. You'll learn to turn much sooner on a board that's
a little shorter, and with the right amount of width and
thickness it will allow you to catch waves as easily as
you would on a long board. Having less length will also
help you to spin around when you start paddling to catch
a wave. I see lots of beginners having problems getting
into position with long boards and if they're not in good
paddling condition, all that board can be a disadvantage.
Conversely, a very good skateboarder might be able to
learn on a shortboard surfboard
but you're better off working your way down from a fun
board or an egg.
On the other hand, if your goal is to stand up and ride
a wave as soon as possible, the long board will usually
get you up and riding within the first few hours. I wouldn't
suggest a shortboard surfboard
for a beginner unless you're a parent who surfs and wants
to teach your child, in which case you'll probably be
pushing them into the waves from close to the shore. If
you're the parent, you probably already know that a board
small enough to fit a young child will most likely have
to be custom made. Talk to your local surfboard
The next thing to consider is the dimension of your
surfboard and as a beginner you'll only need to consider
length, width and thickness. Once you get more advanced
there are other dimensions and design elements to learn
about including outline, rocker, vee, concave, fin placement,
fin template, and rail shape. But for now let's stick
to the basics.
In order to maximize your surfing potential and fun,
your board must fit you. For example, buying the wrong
size shoes will cause all types of problems. The same
is true for your surfboard.
A basic scale to help you find the right dimensions
Here's a basic size scale to go by. A small surfer
would be someone between 50 - 100 lbs, medium would
be 100 - 175 lbs, large would be 175 - 250 lbs, and
someone over 250 lbs would be an x-large surfer.
If you're considering a longboard,
mediums, larges, and x-larges should be riding
something in the 9'0 to 9'6 range. Anything longer than
this is really not necessary for most beginners. A light
medium or small surfer should consider a mini tanker
with a length between 8'0 and 8'6.
On the other hand, if you're considering a fun board
or an egg, something between 6'8 and 7'6 (in the correct
thickness range) should do well for the small, medium,
and large sized rider. An x-large rider would do well
on an 8'0.
Thickness is the most important dimension of a beginner's
surfboard because it determines how easily paddling
and catching waves are. Long boards for riders in the
small to medium range should be between 2 ½ - 2 ¾ ,
for large riders 2 ¾ - 3 , and for the x-large riders
3 - 3 ¼. You can use the same thickness scale for mini
For funboards and eggs, the
small to medium rider should look for something in the
2 ¼ - 2 ½ range, for the large riders 2 ½ - 2 ¾, and for
the x-large surfer 2 ¾ - 3 will suffice.
At the beginner level, the width of your surfboard
will be the least important dimension. The best advice
I can give you is to gauge your width by how well the
board fits under your arm. To gauge this, carry the
board under your arm by putting one rail under your
arm pit and grabbing the other rail with your hand.
You should feel comfortable carrying it thought this
might not work as well for very short people as you'll
have shorter arms than average.
The idea is to be able to carry the board comfortably.
Once you advance in skill, the width will become more
important to you as it affects the amount of curve in
your outline. But for now, you should concentrate on
catching waves and not worry about detailed design elements
like your board's outline curve.
Trust your surfboard shaper
to take care of design elements until you feel your
ability has risen above the beginner level and keep
in mind that the measurements I have suggested above
are only a guideline. You'll get tons of different advice
from fellow surfers, shapers, surfboard sales people,
and anyone else who knows a little about board design.
In the end, you'll eventually figure out what works
best for you by trying different shapes, boards, and
surfing a variety of waves.
Looking for a shaper who will personally work with you
and shape you a custom
surfboard? Tore Surfboards
Hawaii will help you reach YOUR potential.
Related articles: Board design for advanced
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