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How to Choose the Right Surf Board

Updated on March 3, 2015

Surfs Up

While there are many different varieties of surfboard, there are really only two main models: Longboards and Shortboards. Which board you should choose will depend on a few variables (your skill level, height, weight, where you plan to surf, etc), but there are a few general rules you can use to help you decide.

When it comes to surfing, there really aren't a whole lot of requirements; you need a place to surf, and surfboard. Places to surf is easy, just find an ocean/sea and paddle out, choosing the right surfboard on the other hand, well that's a little more complicated.

In this article, we'll talk about the different types of surfboards and how to find one that's right for you.

To Set The Mood: Surfing With Stephanie Gilmore


Surfing with a Longboard
Surfing with a Longboard | Source

Longboards: A Surfer's Best Friend

For beginners, the longboard is your best friend. Although they can be a little cumbersome on land, in the water they are remarkably easy to handle.

The wide surface area is more accommodating for beginners who are still learning how to navigate their way around.

The increased size and weight also make it possible for longboards to catch waves that others can't. For beginners, this means that there will be more waves to practice on, for more experience riders, this means more waves period (which is always a good thing).


Shredding with a shortboard
Shredding with a shortboard | Source

Shortboards: Faster Is Better

Shortboards are the sports cars of surfing: they are small, sleek, extremely fast, and they handle like a dream; they're also useless if you don't know how to "drive" one.

While it is possible to learn on a shortboard, I wouldn't recommend it; shortboards aren't nearly as forgiving as longboards and even getting up on one takes plenty of practice.

It's much better to learn on a longboard and then transition to a shortboard when your ready; once you make the transition to a shortboard however, you'll never want to go back. The ability to catch insane air, and to absolutely shred the waves is pretty big draw for most people; once you've had a taste, nothing else will really compare I'm afraid.

Choosing The Right Board

Sizing: There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the right board, the first of which is your size; you need to pick a board that can support your weight in the water. Generally, you'll want to find a board that's at least 1 - 1½ feet taller than you.

Location: The general rule is: the smaller the waves, the bigger the board. If you're not sure what type of waves you can expect, a quick check of the surf report can help. is an awesome resource for finding a surf report for almost any location on the planet.

Frequency of Use: If you plan on surfing on a regular basis (and trust me, once you start, you'll want to), then you'll want to go with a longboard, as they're the most versatile when it comes to surf conditions. You can always pick up a shortboard later if you want to, but start with the one that will give you the most opportunities to surf.


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