Surfboard & Gear Buyers Guide
When it comes to buying your first surfboard there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. Especially for beginners, knowing the characteristics of a particular surfboard is important to aid in choosing the right one. There are two main types of surfboards: longboards and shortboards. Each of these models offers something different to the rider. Beginner surfers are free to use either type of board, but the longer and larger ones are generally considered to be easier to use.
Longboards - the original, and very first variety of board used in surfing. Typically 9 to 10 feet, the longboard is ideal for novices and experienced surfers alike. Longboards are much more stable in the water, they are easier to paddle and great for catching waves.
Shortboards - appropriate for the more experienced surfer. Shortboards range in length from 5 to 7 feet, with a pointed nose and a rounded or squarish tail. They have less float, harder to paddle than all the other board types and are suitable for fast, steep waves.
Aside from these two basic types there is quite a number of surfboard variations that have also become popular nowadays. These are designed for more specific uses in surfing. With the development of new modern surfboards, more choices have become available for surfing enthusiasts to try. Some of them include the following:
Fun boards - are a good cross between a long and short board. They are easier to turn than a long board but are much more buoyant than a short board making it fairly easy to catch a wave. The performance of fun boards is improved by having a three fin combination with down rails and edges giving them greater carving capability.
Hybrid boards - shaped somewhere in between a short and longboard, but closer to a shortboard in the tail and fin configuration. It is wider in the middle and nose for more floatation and ease of paddling.
Retro/Egg - similar to a hybrid, normally thicker, flatter and wider than a shortboard. Typically, it has a rounded nose and tail which gives extra floatation, awesome fun for smaller waves.
Fish Surfboards - gets its name from its fish-like profile. These are shortboards created for small wave fun, although generally not as wide and thick as Retro/Egg surfboards. Generally between 4 feet 8 inches and 6' feet, fish surfboards still maintain the maneuverability in small waves
Gun - long, narrow and pointy at the nose and tail (pin tail) for maximum rail contact. They range from 6 to 10 feet or more. They are ideal for big wave surfing, or for powerful, steep waves. Because of their shape they are easier to paddle out further to the big waves and easier to control on the steeper waves.
Tow Boards - used for the most extreme waves which are too large to paddle into. Tow surfing is when the surfer is towed into the wave typically behind a jet ski. Unlike the Guns which are designed as longer boards to allow the surfers to paddle into the big waves, Tow boards can be as short as shortboards, with footstaps to keep the surfer attached to the board.
Bodyboards - also known as a "boogie board." They are small (under 5ft), more rectangular boards you lay on rather than standing. Used by a variety of age groups, these are ideal for beginners, especially young people, to learn the art of riding waves. Bodyboards are one of the safest options for families in small waves, yet also capable of stunning performance in the hands of experts.
After you have decided which particular surfboard is appropriate for you. The next step is to know the basic surfing accessories that will make your hobby a fun and safe experience.
Board Bags- convenient for travel, they keep your board safe while it is being stored or transported. Board bags are divided into two types: day bags which are lighter and suitable for general day to day use and home board storage, and travel bags which are heavier with more padding but offers more protection and ideal for travel.
Surfboard Wax - used to create traction on the deck of the surfboard.
Boardshorts - made from lightweight, quick drying material, these are the alternative wear for those surfing in warmer water.
Wetsuits - suitable to be worn when the water temperature is too cold for wearing just boardshorts.
Surfboard Fins - are attached to the bottom of the surfboard and help hold the board on the wave. Fins make the board go straight and enable you to turn.
DeckPads - are to keep your back foot on the tail of your board when performing more radical maneuvers. These are only really essential for the more competent surfers.
Leashes - used to attach your board to your leg, so after falling off you do not have to go swimming back to the beach to retrieve your board.