Surfboards - Buying Guide

Surfboards - Buying Guide

So you want to buy yourself a new surfboard, you quickly search online for a surfboard to use as soon as possible, only ending up puzzled by the variations available to purchase. What one do you buy? No need to panic. That is where Kites & More come in. Surfing is personal to everyone, and with today's ever-increasing variety in choice of boards, styles and materials, it can be challenging to find that board that is perfect for you.

At the dawn of surfing, there weren't a ton of options in the surfboard department. Rather, you were stuck between having an obtrusively large piece of wood. Luckily now for all of us, surfboards come in all shapes, sizes and materials that offer a chance to find a board for you. Modern surfboards have been influenced by nearly a century of surfboard designs. Whenever you're buying a new board, it is always good to keep in mind three key principles that will make a big difference to your surfing success.

ROCKER

A higher or increased nose rocker is usually attributed to boards designed for bigger, more hollow waves. More rocker in the nose allows for a shape that will not "pearl" or plunge into a large wave face when you're dropping in whereas a flatter, more relaxed rocker will aid the board to plane quicker and more efficiently, howbeit, will reduce manoeuvrability and increase chances of pearling on take off. An increased tail rocker can be found in boards shaped for optimal manoeuvrability. A tail that bends off of the water's surface provides more lift and sensitivity in the tail for driving through radical turns. Traditionally speaking, on your standard surfboard, having a less overall centre rocker means the board will be able to glide and paddle better, which is perfect for those looking to start in the world of surfing. Having more rocker will accommodate intermediate and experienced surfers who are looking to utilise every area of the board to generate speed and turning power. Those experienced riders looking to go further may seek more rocker in their larger wave boards as the curvature of the nose allows for late drops on consequential waves.

VOLUME

The volume is the amount of space a surfboard occupies, usually expressed in litres (e.g. 35 litres). The surfboard's length, width and thickness will yield the volume of a surfboard however the key to the placement of the volume will affect the overall volume of a surfboard greatly.

Volume at its fundamentals can be displaced in a variety of ways in a surfboard, and knowing the right volume for you will be based on a combination of personal preference, body weight, experience, age, fitness, skill level and riding style.

Having too little volume on your board will mean that you won't catch as many waves and will have trouble generating speed; this will be because of increasing resistance/drag. Too much volume will result in the board feeling bulky, hard to transition and turn however will experience less drag and will be easier to paddle and catch waves and achieving planning speeds with less velocity. The more drag you have, the less acceleration you'll have.

DIMENSIONS

Length can be critical to a surfer's progression as many beginners would more often than not purchase a board that is too short for them; this results in a limit in their progression and success in surfing.

  • Length - This is a pretty important choice, choose a length depending on your height. Try to keep it about 1'0"-1'5" taller than you however this is also dependant on the skill, so more the skilled surfer will often vary in size depending on their skill and preference.
  • Width - For newer surfers, the wider the better. Having a wider surfboard will ultimately make the board more stable and easier to ride and stand.
  • Thickness - This is important because the thicker the surfboard, the more buoyant it is and it will be easier to paddle. This will also be affected by weight to find the right thickness for you. A smaller rider would generally go for a board at 2"-2.5" thick whereas a larger rider would go around the 3" mark.

SURF BOARDS

Beginner Boards

A traditional beginner board are large, wide and thick. This makes it easier to catch waves and stand up and gain confidence over the course of your time in the water. They usually have a round nose shape, which makes paddling easier and the board more stable when attempting to stand up. On top of that will help you keep out of the water and ensures that you can maximise your time on the board to gain confidence faster.

The design of these boards is all about getting you to catch as many waves as possible and get you up on your feet. They're super buoyant and forgiving to ride. They are designed to be ridden on slower-moving, smaller waves where a shortboard would not be propelled. This makes them perfect for learning to surf on. For a lot of cases, it is better to stick to your beginner board for a long period before switching; this will ensure that you can maximise your confidence. This is best before switching to a smaller board where it'll be much less forgiving and harder to catch those waves.

FOAM BOARDS / FOAMIES

Foam boards are generally used by surf schools for beginners to learn with. They are hard-wearing, safer to fall on and have a lot of floatation to make it easier to catch small waves. They are a great way of getting an introduction to surfing at a much lower cost before investing in a specialised surfboard. A foam board is essential for any surfing family. The kids can use them to learn, and the grown-ups can use them to brush up on their basic surf skills.

MINI MALS

Mini Mals, as the name suggests, resembles a smaller version of a Mal or a longboard. They pack a lot of volume which provides paddling power, easy wave catching and stability. They also offer slight tail refinements, which means that you can start to turn. They will range from 7'0" to 8'0" in length.

Mini Mals are more manoeuvrable than a longboard due to the shorter length. They ensure you keep catching lots of waves and maintain some of the stability because the shape is still very full and there is plenty of volume. This type of board will always help you pick up lots of waves, particularly in small and weak surf. When thinking of moving to a funboard, keep a Mini Mal in the quiver.

FUNBOARDS

Funboards fall between Mini Mals and Shortboards in size. The reduced size makes the board more manoeuvrable but they still have enough buoyancy to let you catch lots of waves. These boards have pointier noses than Mini Mals; you'll need this as you will now duck diving under oncoming waves.

They work in a wide range of waves so if you're learning you can start testing yourself in more demanding conditions. If you're more experienced, they are a great all-rounder to have in the quiver. Don't be scared to keep the volume in your funboard. It's far worse to have too little than too much. If you have too much, it might take the edge off some of your turns. However, if there's not enough you might struggle to catch a wave in the first place.

FISH SURFBOARD

Fishes are wide and full, they have plenty of volume, which means you can paddle fast to catch weak waves. They also generate more speed when up and riding. This all means you can go shorter. Fishes will be around 2-4 inches shorter than a traditional shortboard. This will make them even more manoeuvrable and reactive.

The vast majority of Fish boards have a swallowtail. This helps widen the tail which loosens the board up and gives you two pivot points to turn on. This helps to keep the board nice and loose to manoeuvre and enables it to pick up speed.

SHORTBOARDS

Shortboards typically range from 5'0"-7'0" (which you can find on our new Kites & More website, with the ability to also choose the length board you want to go for). Shortboards will typically be for those who are more confident in their ability and for those who want to go to the next step from beginner-friendly boards. They provide great manoeuvrability on the wave compared to larger boards such as Longboards.

Due to the lower surface area and buoyancy, they are typically harder to ride and require larger, steeper and more powerful waves to surf on. Numerous shortboard shapes are ideal for different types of waves, such as slower peeling waves, beach breaks and fast barrelling waves. These Shortboards will have a pointed nose and either a round or square tail, although several tail-shape variations do exist. They also usually include a thruster fin setup which can also change depending on your fin size and shape preference.

LONGBOARDS

Longboards offer the most traditional style of surfing. Starting at 8'0", they offer the opportunity to cruise more and some are constructed to let you hang ten or five toes over the nose. Nose riders have more volume in the front of the board to support this. Performance longboards are more refined for shortboard style surfing and let you perform more critical turns.

Longboards are more about style, choice and the waves you want to ride and less about agility. They are equally used by experienced surfers in small wave conditions. Longboarders often look to ride on the nose of the board.

STAND UP PADDLEBOARD

Stand up Paddleboarding is a very popular sport that has blasted in popularity over the last few years. SUP offers a range of uses such as touring, race, white water, surf and more. SUP Surf is slightly different to regular surf in the way that instead of lying down on the surfboard and paddling with your arms, you instead will be stood on the board at all times with your paddle replacing your arms to propel yourself onto waves.

They are a great introduction to board sports and can be used on lakes, rivers and calm seas. Using Paddleboards to surf is a great way to start into small waves, offering heaps of stability which allows those to stay on the board for as long as possible.

SKIMBOARDS

Innovative, fun and easily picked up, Skimboarding is quite a new style of surf, perfect for those looking to go into shallow cruising or catching waves on a big shore break.

The method is simple. Throw the board out in front of you in shallow waters then proceed to run, jump and mount with two feet. From there, just let the board carry you along at peach break speeds.

ACCESSORIES

WAX

Wax is used for grip on the deck of the surfboard. They ensure you stay in place when paddling and makes sure that your feet don't slide off the board while surfing.

There are large variations of wax available, which are mainly dependent on water temperature. Coldwater wax, warm water wax, tropical water wax can all be applied over a base coat wax.

Use a base coat wax or wax for a cooler temperature first, this will generate good bumps for you to apply your regular wax on top of.

DECK PADS

Grip, tail pad, tail grip are a series of Raised Deck Pads that are stuck usually at the tail end of your board. They come in a range of designs from complete deck pads with multiple sections to a tail kick pad to help you improve your skills with the tail.

FINS

Most boards come will removable fins (please check before purchasing on Kites & More, not every board will include fins with the board. We list in the description if the fins are included or not).

  • Single - Having a single fin will make you rely more on your rails to put a turn in. They're great for training your surfing if you want to go back to the basics.
  • Twin - These will loosen up your board and give you heaps of release off the tail. Mostly found on fish surfboards.
  • Thrusters (3 Fin Setup) - The most common setup. The thruster fin setup offers drive and stability and works for most people in most conditions.
  • Quad - Offers great drive and direction, and a good tail release in turns. A great down the line fin setup that will help hold that line in heavier waves.

LEASHES

Leashes play a vital role in your safety and also stops your boards from floating away after falling off or hitting other boards. A good recommendation is to use a straight leash that is around the same length of your board up to around 10'0". It allows you to be attached to your board without it being too short or it being a coiled leash and risk the board bouncing back to you and causing any injuries. Do not underestimate the importance of a leash as it can make all the difference in your safety.

CONSIDERATIONS

  • Durability - It is key in most aspects to buy kit that will be durable, especially in surfing when you may hit things or fall on it, that is when having a durable board will make all the difference to ensure you keep your kit for as long as possible.
  • Practicality - It is important to think about how you will be transporting your kit and also storing your kit. You'll need to ensure that you have a location in which you can store your board safely. You'll also need to ensure, at least to those who are not as fortunate to live on the coast, how you'll be transporting your board to the coast.
  • Manoeuvrability - Getting a board that provides a great amount of manoeuvrability for your preference is key. Not only when on the water, but it is also important to ensure that you can take your board in and out of the water with ease.
  • Progression - If you are lucky enough on planning to surf, it is important to choose a board that will help you progress your skill and aids you to develop your confidence. If you're planning to surf a lot less often, it may be an option to choose a board that packs a lot of fun to surf in the times that you can use it for every day.

Last but not least, finding a wetsuit that is right for you is key. We do happen to have a Buyer's Guide on Wetsuits so if you'd like more information to find the wetsuit for you then please go check that out here.