25 Jun Surfboard Buying Guide
There is a big chance you are reading this after you had an awesome week filled with surfing in the warm Portuguese sun. The momentum of surfing every day combined with the skilled instructing paid off and you are starting to get the hang of riding waves.
Now you might be back home wondering how you could keep the momentum going and not lose your surf skills. Investing in your own first surf board will be your best decision.
This way you can spend as much time in the water as possible, without losing time on organising rentals and waiting for shops to open, because the tides won’t wait either.
Buying your first board can be tricky, many mistakes have been made in the past, so let us guide you to guaranteed success and many happy surf sessions.
1. What kind of surfer are you?
Are you extremely energetic and ready to carve up the wave? Or are you an elegant dancer, gently sliding across the water? Not sure? It doesn’t really matter yet at this point, as for now the most important thing to remember is ‘wave count’. Want to improve quickly?
Catch as many waves as you possibly can. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t always the cleanest or greenest waves. The more waves you’ll catch, the quicker your pop up will become engraved in your muscle memory and you won’t even realise you’re doing it.
So, what board will help you catch the most waves?
2. What type of board do you need?
A board with enough volume and size! There are a few main surf board categories. Soft tops, Mini Mals, Fish/Funboards, Shortboards and Longboards.
We suggest sticking to the soft tops for a while. The days are long gone that soft tops were seen solely as beginner boards. I suggest you have a look at Jamie O’Brien’s antics on Youtube. These boards now come in all shapes and sizes, made to last and with proper fins.
No one ever regrets buying a soft top, they are just so much fun. You don’t have to worry about dinging it (easily done with fiberglass boards) or dinging yourself, and they will give you (and your friends) years of fun. Some days they might even be the only boards that will catch waves! Your wave count will be through the roof and once you can manoeuvre a soft top across the face of a wave, you’ll easily adapt to any other board.
You’ve owned a soft top for a while? The next step could be a Mini Mal.
Your Mini Mal could be the same size as your soft top (7’-8’), or slightly smaller, but the volume will be less. Just make sure you still have plenty of volume left under your chest as it will make for easier paddling and catching more waves as a result.
Remember: Longer, wider boards will glide better, making it easier to catch waves, but they will take longer and require more effort to turn once on the wave. Shorter, thinner boards will lay lower in the water, meaning more paddle power will be needed to catch waves, once on the wave they will be easier and quicker to turn.
Don’t be tempted to go straight to a shortboard. It’s one of the most common mistakes in surfing. Your wave count will go down significantly, and you will get frustrated, wondering where your surfing ability has disappeared to. Slowly build down in board size and type.
To make the step down from a Mini Mal to a shortboard, it’s always a great idea to go for a fish or funboard first. These are shorter boards but will be thick and wide enough to give you lots of volume and float. Meaning they will catch waves easier than shortboards and also give you more stability for the pop-up and riding the wave but being shorter they will give you more playfulness with quicker turns than an average Mini Mal.Fun boards are also great when the waves aren’t that big and powerful.
Shortboards. The advanced boards with least volume. We all see the pro’s shredding up the waves on them but for a first board it’s simply a NO GO. Don’t be tempted. You’ll regret it!
Last but not least, longboards. There are many different longboards out there. Some really thick, offering tons of volume. No wonder they are often called ‘logs’. While amazing at catching waves, they are slow to turn and require a specific skill to turn along the face of the wave. There are also performance longboards, thinner and more manoeuvrable.
If you know dancing along the waves is what you want to do, you could step straight from your soft top to a long board, once you nail that pop up on every single wave.
3. What about size?
The size of your board is quite specific to the type of board you choose from above and your body length and weight. Surfboard sizes are in feet and inches.
Soft tops around the 8’ (foot) mark are great allrounders.
As mentioned above, Mini Mals could be a foot shorter and will be thinner than a soft top.
Funboards and Fish Boards tend to be ‘fat’ (wide and thick) so can be surfed a lot shorter than your Mini Mal as the thickness will offer you enough volume.
Whatever board type you choose to go for, it really pays off to visit your local surf shop.
(Not the one with the fancy clothes, but the one filled from top to bottom with boards.)
As we are all so different, size is a very personal thing and no better way to get advise then face to face with an experienced surfer.
We hope you find yourself an awesome board that will help you catch lots of waves every session, helping you progress quicker than you would have imagined. Remember: wave count is everything! Good luck and see you in the water!