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Surfboards Buying Guides for men and women

Oneill Surfer runs on the Beach with a Surfboard with a Tailpad
Dive into the Sea, catch the first Wave! Photo: David Cohen de Lara

Surfboards – Boards which mean the World to Us.

Is the most beautiful place in the world for you the ocean? Do you enjoy nothing more than gliding smoothly from the crest of a wave to the end? Well, then it sounds like it’s about time you get yourself a new surfboard.

  • Beginner: The amazing feeling of catching your first wave is best experienced on a high volume Mini Malibu or a Funboard.
  • Intermediate: You have the surfing bug and can stand up longer and have mastered the first maneuvers. In this case, it is time for a Fish or Hybrid-Shape
  • Advanced: Experienced surfers with plenty of paddle power can transition to a Shortboard from an easier Fish or Hybrid. Can also go for a Longboard
There are some things to consider before you rush off to buy a new surfboard and dive straight into the water. Here we a guide to the main shapes.

Mini Malibus and Funboards: The Boards for Beginners

As a beginner, to be on the safe side it's always good to start with a rounder, higher volume surfboard for your first waves. These shapes have high stability, are easy to paddle out and glide well. These boards have a length between 6’11” and 8’11”, and will be made from soft materials, polyester and epoxy constructions work really well. For beginner and intermediate surfers to catch their first waves these surfboards are really easy to handle. Due to their high volume, they can take even the smallest wave to the beach. These boards are good for waves up to a height of one and a half metres.

For Newcomers Mini Malibus or Funboards offer the following advantages:

• More stability through the round nose
• Easier planing because of the round nose
• Easy to paddle due to the high volume
• Less effort to surf

Small Disadvantages for more experienced surfers due to the bulk

• Less Agile
• Duckdiving is very difficult
• Due to the length and weight travel can be inconvenient

Hybrid Fish and Egg Surfboards for more Experienced surfers.

With a length of between 5’2” and 6’9”, Fish, Egg and Hybrid shapes are on the shorter side. However because of their high volume, the lack of length is offset. After you have started on funboards, these shorter style boards are great for a transition to shortboards. This shape is also perfectly suited to surf smaller less powerful waves. Surfers of all abilities from Intermediates up to professionals can enjoy surfing these shapes, some people never move on from them! The difference between a modern fish and a hybrid is due to the fin setup. A modern fish is usually surfed with a quad setup of four fins, whereas hybrid shapes often use the thruster setup of three fins on the board. The quad setup is slightly faster, but you have greater maneuverability with the thruster setup. Egg shapes are quickly gaining in popularity. They come in at a similar volume to hybrid or fish, but are a little bit short, so are great for less powerful waves. These egg shaped boards are very maneuverable, respond quickly and can provide a boost. They work brilliantly in waves up to 1.5 metres.

Benefits of Fish or Hybrid shapes for intermediates

• Ideal Transition shape to take you from Funboards to Shortboards
• High Volume means easy paddling
• More Maneuverable than Funboards
• More forgiving and stable than Shortboards
• Duckdiving (diving under the wave), is possible

Disadvantages for Advanced surfer

• Less rapid reactions than a Shortboard

Shortboards for Pros

You can look really cool and casual at the beach with a light Shortboard under your arms. However, should you want to make a good impression in the surf with such a board, you should really be an experienced surfer. A good paddling strength and a lot of experience with funboards and fish shapes is indispensable for riding these boards. Shortboards usually have a length of between, 5’6” and 6’9”, and their volume is usually considerably less than less advanced shapes. The pointed nose and smaller thickness give unparalleled quickness, a lot of speed and maneuverability. It also should be noted that because of the significantly reduced volume these boards are considerably more difficult to paddle with. The stability of the board will decrease with every litre of volume lost as the sensitivity to small defects increases.

Advanced surfers will enjoy this shape because of:

• Maneuverability
• High Speed
• Quickness
• Simple Duck Diving

Disadvantages compared to higher volume shapes:

• More difficult to paddle
• Unstable in Take off
• Not much Lift
• Difficult to surf weaker waves

Longboards: the Boards for Artists

A Longboard has massive volume but is highly unsuitable for inexperienced riders. The huge size of a longboard is very difficult to move and even getting over waves becomes a major challenge. Experts can have a great deal of fun with longboards, by trying tricks such as Cross-Steps and Hang-Tens.

Soft Surfboards: For Beginners Young and Old

Soft Surfboards are perfect for complete novices and children because the risk of injury is significantly reduced because of the protection of soft foam. The materials act a damper for the body and flexible fins are less likely to cut you.

The major drawback with soft surfboards, however, is that compared to an epoxy or polyester of the same shape they are considerably heavier. Plus due to the higher weight travelling is also more difficult.

Epoxy Surfboards

The materials used in Epoxy Surfboards are much lighter, more environmentally friendly and more robust than conventional polyester surfboards. The manufacturing can be more difficult and the raw materials are often more expensive.

The main differences can be:

• The core
• The lamination

High-performance boards from brands like Lost and Firewire have a light and water-resistant cores. The Laminate of such boards is much lighter than a polyester equivalent with only one-third of the weight. They are still really robust and have a water repellent core despite, the thinner lamination. Again this all saves the manufacturer and you, the surfer weight.

Cheaper models which are more aimed at beginners are slightly heavier because of their construction. The EPS core consists of compressed components and is not completely waterproof. Plus the lamination of the board is relatively thicker and slightly heavier. However due to their construction, these boards are still extremely rugged and durable.

The advantages of an Epoxy Surfboard:

  • Lighter
  • Robust
  • High Speed
  • Environmentally Friendly
Disadvantages compared to Polyester Boards:
  • Struggles with Unevenness in smaller waves
  • Expensive

Polyester Surfboards

The traditional materials, a polyurethane core and polyester surface are the most common on the market. They are tried and tested and are very popular with shapers thanks to their ease of manufacturing.

The advantages over epoxy snowboards:

• Cheaper
• Can negotiate uneven small waves better

Disadvantages of Polyester Boards

• Heavier
• More repair intensive
• Core Draws water

Length, Width and Thickness

The length of the board, the width of the board at the widest point and the thickness in the middle of the surfboard are given in feet and inches. You can usually find these dimensions at the bottom of the board, they are usually given similarly to this: 6’4” (length) x 18 ¾” (width) x 2 7/8” (thickness). From these figures, you can get an idea of the volume.

Dimensions of a Surfboard, length, width and thickness


A Golden Rule

The Heavier, more inexperienced and less fit you are, then more volume you should have on your board. Experience and calculations can be very accurate when finding which volume is suitable for which surfer. Amongst other things, fitness plays a massive role."

Surf – Fitness

Naturally, training on the surf spot (best on a dream beach), is the most effective. Here you can practice canoeing and takeoff under ‘real’ conditions. The better you adapt your training regime to your new board, the more waves you’ll catch and the more you’ll progress. A brief overview of the body parts used for surfing will give you an idea about your surf fitness.

Bastien Justin paddling out to the open sea on a surfboard
When paddling you need Strength, just like Justin Bastien



Tip: your Fitness

The fitter that you are the more you can paddle out and the more fun you can have surfing!"

Areas under a lot of strain when paddling

  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Chest 
  • Neck
The other side of surfing is explosive takeoffs, for this, you’ll need
  • Strong Midsection
  • Strong arms
  • Explosive Strength
  • Balance
  • Good Core Strength
Below are some definitions for you to determine your fitness level for surfing. Be careful to be honest about your own fitness so you don’t get caught out in the surf! With your fitness level, weight and surfing ability you can work out the volume of your board.

Average fitness

You go at least 1 to 2 times a year to surf and generally spend about 2-3 weeks in the water. Your general health is good and endurance sports are something you enjoy. However, sport is not necessarily at the top of things which you like to do and you also enjoy some time in the pub.

  • Surfing at least 1 or two times a year
  • 2 – 3 weeks in a year
  • Good general Fitness

Above Average Fitness

Your surf trips take place at least 2 to 3 times a year or more than four weeks in a year. At least a few nights a week and the weekend you dedicate to sport. You have a good mixture of endurance, strength, balance and speed are part of your fitness schedule which you enjoy greatly. Sport is very important for you and creates a balance in your life.

  • 2 to 3 three times a year surfing
  • 4 weeks or more in the water
  • High level of fitness
  • Paddling in preparation for you next trip 

Excellent Fitness

Surfing is integrated into your everyday life and you enjoy regular surfing sessions all through the year. Training and health are a major part of your life. Endurance, strength and speed combine perfectly with you and you have a perfect training plan for your fitness.

  • Regular surfing throughout the year
  • Very high level of fitness
  • Endurance, strength and speed are all trained

Volume and Shape Perfectly Adapted to your Riding

With a board with the right volume and shape, you will enjoy each session in the water twice as much. Not enough foam under your feet makes the board sink and it is pretty difficult to catch a wave.

A round shape, especially in the nose area, facilitates takeoffs much easier and gives you stability.

Check using these tables for a suitable volume and adjust your Surfboard selection on it. Fitness level, skill level and body weight are crucial. Here are some categories to help your selection.



Ripcurl Surfergirls at the beach wit their Surfboards
With the right volume for your riding level, you can develop faster - this is true for boys and girls. Photo: Ripcurl

Beginner

  •  Catch Green waves left and right
  •  Mini Malibu and Funboards are good shapes

Beginner-Intermediate

  • First turns
  • Moving from a Mini Malibu or Funboard to a Hybrid or Fish Shape

Intermediate

  •  Bottom and top turns
  • First roundhouse turns 
  • A Shortboard with matching volume is suitable for powerful waves
  •  For weaker waves, more comfortable on a Fish or Hybrid shape 

Advanced

  • You can perform all the moves mentioned above with power and speed
  • Snaps, cutbacks and floaters are not a problem
  • A Shortboard is your choice for everything

Volume of Surfboards for Average Fitness

Bodyweight Beginner
Beginner/
Intermediate
Intermediate Advanced
50kg to 55kg 44 to 52 33 to 40 26 to 32 20 to 24
55kg to 60kg 48 to 56 37 to 44 28 to 34 22 to 26
60kg to 65kg 53 to 61 40 to 47 30 to 36 24 to 28
65kg to 70kg 58 to 66 43 to 50 33 to 39 26 to 31
70kg to 75 kg 63 to 71 47 to 54 35 to 42 28 to 33
75kg to 80kg 67 to 75 51 to 58 38 to 44 30 to 35
80kg to 85kg 71 to 80 54 to 63 41 to 47 32 to 37
85kg to 90kg 75 to 84 57 to 66 44 to 50 35 to 40
90kg to 95kg 79 to 89 61 to 70 46 to 52 38 to 44

Volume of Surfboards for Above Average Fitness

Bodyweight Beginner
Beginner/
Intermediate
Intermediate Advanced
50kg to 55kg 38 to 46 28 to 35 21 to 27 18 to 22
55kg to 60kg 43 to 51 31 to 38 23 to 29 19 to 23
60kg to 65kg 48 to 56 34 to 41 25 to 31 20 to 25
65kg to 70kg 53 to 61 37 to 44 27 to 33 22 to 27
70kg to 75 kg 56 to 64 40 to 47 29 to 35 24 to 29
75kg to 80kg 60 to 68 43 to 50 32 to 38 26 to 31
80kg to 85kg 64 to 72 46 to 53 34 to 40 28 to 33
85kg to 90kg 68 to 76 49 to 57 37 to 43 30 to 35
90kg to 95kg 72 to 81 52 to 60 40 to 47 33 to 38

Volume of Surfboards for Excellent Fitness

Bodyweight Beginner
Beginner/
Intermediate
Intermediate Advanced
50kg to 55kg 37 to 45 26 to 33 20 to 26 17 to 21
55kg to 60kg 41 to 49 29 to 36 21 to 27 18 to 22
60kg to 65kg 45 to 53 32 to 39 23 to 29 19 to 23
65kg to 70kg 49 to 57 34 to 41 25 to 30 20 to 25
70kg to 75kg 53 to 61 36 to 43 27 to 32 22 to 27
75kg to 80kg 57 to 65 40 to 47 29 to 34 24 to 29
80kg to 85kg 61 to 69 43 to 51 32 to 37 26 to 31
85kg to 90kg 65 to 73 46 to 53 35 to 41 29 to 34
90kg to 95kg 69 to 78 49 to 57 38 to 44 32 to 38

It's not, however, just volume which is important to your selection. As mentioned above, it is very much shape as well. A round nose, such as found on a funboard, behaves very differently to a pointed nose. Similarly, significant differences can be found in the tail. The more space, or volume the easier it is for beginners or intermediates to control the board.

The Nose: the Tip of your Board

The shape of the board affects the behavior of surfboards considerably. The main factor is whether the board has a round or pointed nose. Generally speaking, the two shapes have different applications.

  • The rounder, the easier to handle
  • The more pointed, the more demanding
A round nose can be generally found on Mini Malibu, funboards, longboards and Stand Up Paddle Boards. However, the last two mentioned shapes are an exception, when it comes to ease of use. Longboards and SUP are special shapes which are used by experienced riders.

With a round nose you’ll get:
  • More lift
  • Fast Planing
  • Easier Paddling
  • More stability
Shortboards and Guns are equipped with a pointy nose and are thus unstable. They offer less buoyancy when paddling, but are far more agile. Especially for super fast and radical moves this Nose is perfect

A pointed nose gives you:
  • Maneuverability
  • Speed during Maneuvers

Surfboard Nose Shapes from Round to Pointed

Tail: the end of the board

The different options for a tail bring different properties. A single shaped surfboard can behave very differently when equipped with different tail shapes. Here are some of the most common shapes and their properties.

Surfboard Tails from Pin to Squash to Fish Tail

Round and Pin Tail

  • Suitable for fast, steep waves and tubes
  • Good Maneuverability
  • Less Stability

Squash Tail

  • Very Common shape for Shortboards
  • Enables rapid radical maneuvers
  • More speed through the broader area
  • Rounded edges offer grip and rollover stability

Swallow Tail

  • Good grip
  • Control through turns
  • Lots of Speed
  • Good lift
  • Good in small, less powerful waves

Fins and Fin Systems

Depending on board design, the fin setup can vary. The versatile Thruster Setup is mainly used on shortboards and hybrid setups. Longboards will come with one large fin, to make the largest turns possible. The playful Fish often has a fast Quad-Setup.

Here are the data and facts:


Thruster

  • 3 fins
  • Very diverse application
  • Mainly on shortboards and hybrid boards
  • Great setup for beginners, because individual fins can be exchanged with little effort

Quad

  • Very Fast
  • Good stability even on wide rails
  • Less Maneuverable than a thruster

Single

  • Typical Fin for Longboards
  • Very long turns

The two most common systems are FCS and Future fins.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each system.

Surfboard Fin Control System - Short FCS- and Future Fins

FCS (Fin Control System)

The advantages of the FCS:

  • Very Widespread
  • Large Selection
  • Quick Change
  • Fast Widely Available
  • Easy to Repair
  • Old FCS fins are also compatible with the FCS 2 system 
  • Easy to use
Disadvantages of the FCS:
  • Expensive
  • Vulnerable to damage to the fin box

Future Fins

The advantages of the system:

  • Basic Fins are cheap
  • Good flow behavior by finbox
  • Good workmanship
The disadvantages of future fins
  • Top models are more expensive
  • Fin box is very difficult to repair
  • Often hard to find

Leash

Surfboard Leahes from Dakine, FCS and Oneballjay

The leash is the connection between you and your surfboard. It ensures that if you fall, you’re not going to find your board surfing all the way back to the beach! Basically, the length of the leash = the length of your surfboards. Competition models are not suitable because the tear easily and the Velcro can very easily absorbed by the small width for free surfing sessions.

Wax

Surfboard Wax for Shortboards, Longboards and Mini Malibu

The wax gives surf surfboard the necessary grip. In order get the right wax, you should find out about the water temperature where you are going. The warmer the conditions are the harder composition of the wax. From icy cold waters to tropical heat, you will find the right wax in our online shop.

Tail Pad

Tail-Pads and Grip-Pads for Boards fron Dakine

When you are choosing a tail pad, the right model will depend on the width and your own personal preferences. The purpose of the tail pad is to keep your feet firmly on the board and to support your moves, For wider board such as fish, it's recommended that you use a multi-part pad to use so that you can cover the entire surface.

Boardbags

Boardbags for Shortboards from Dakine, FCS and Pro-Lite

Boardbags provide a safe transport for your board and ensure that they arrive undamaged at the beach of your dreams. For travelling far padded models with their own fin pockets and straps are ideal. For a short route between the camp or hotel to the beach, a surf sock can be sufficient. The sleeve protects your surfboard against UV rays and small dings.

Repair

Reparaturkit für Surfboards

If something breaks on your board, you can often quickly remedy the issue with repair kits and simple pastes. These pastes are easy to use, for small dings you can just smear the paste to the affected area, then it can dry in the sun, and when it's dry you can carry on surfing. Caution is advised with epoxy surfboards. Do not try to repair them with polyester paste, which will just eat into your surfboard. However, epoxy paste with polyester is not a problem.