It is not easy to pick a board that fits you, so here are a few tips so you choose the right one!
First you want to ask yourself what type of surfer you are, and what you enjoy the most: smooth longboard riding, or more radical moves? Do you surf on a regular basis, or just a few times a year? Which size and type of waves do you usually surf? What board will be the most suited to your height and weight?
When people ask me which surf board they should buy, unless they are already at an advanced level I always recommend longboards, evolutive / mini-malibu or fish/egg type boards, with a length of between 9 foot and 6.4 foot. The thickness of the board is equally as important: the more volume, the more flotation, the easier it will be to paddle, catch waves, and stand up on the board before the drop gets too vertical – especially if you do not surf very often. Make sure you also take your height and weight into account: a board that fits your tiny girlfriend perfectly may not be adequate for you if you are twice as big as her, as the flotation will not be the same.
Be careful about what you are being sold: surf shops will often advise you to buy a short board, but this is only because there are many more available on the market than other types of boards – so it is in the shop’s interest to sell those, but another type of board may be a better match for you.
I know – short boards are easier to carry and look cool under your arm… But is it really the most important thing about a board? At the end of the day surfing is all about having a good time: what you really want is to be happy and safe, and progress so that you come out of the water satisfied after each surf session. Remember the best surfer in the water is not the guy pulling the most ipressive manoeuvres, it is the guy having the most fun!
To those worrying about passing through the waves, getting to the line-up and making manoeuvres with a bigger board, I would just suggest you check Jamie O’Brien riding Jaws (famous massive wave in Hawaii) on his 9-foot soft-top board, or Kelly Slater riding a wooden… door! Quite inspiring indeed! If you have the skills you can surf in all conditions and do all the maneuvers you want, no matter which board you are riding – so you may as well learn to do that on a board that will let you off a few mistakes at the beginning.
You also want to take the material into consideration: Fiberglass? Wood? Epoxy? Bamboo? Foam? Each of these have different characteristics when it comes to durability, flexibility, weight and safety. Surfboards are very fragile so if you are beginning you want to go for the toughest and most forgiving board possible as it will allow you a few hiccups.
I recommend you consider buying second-hand: there are plenty of good second-hand boards on the market, and they will be at least 30% cheaper than a new board, which will lose its value the moment you wax it for the first time. When buying second-hand it is important to look out for existing damages on the board. Check the nose, tail, rails, fin box… Lots of paint and / or stickers may indicate that the seller is trying to hide something! A board that is unusually heavy may be filled with water due to a crack. If you are buying from a friend he/she will most likely let you try the board first, which is the best way to check if it works for you – the condition being that you do not damage it, but if you follow our advice on how to behave outside and inside the water this will not be a problem!
If you are really set on buying a new board rather than second hand, keep in mind that many shapers can actually tailor make it for you so that it fits your height, weight, level and surfing style perfectly, and it will almost be the same price as a standard board. In Lanzarote we are blessed with a few excellent shapers of both fiberglass and wooden boards at unbeatable prices.
Lastly, if you do not surf very often, remember that nowadays you can rent all types of surfboards pretty much all over the globe – this will save you board bag fees and damages on the plane, and your shoulder will be grateful for it! In Famara you will be able to rent pretty much anything you want, from short boards to stand-up-paddles.
See you soon in the water, on a new, second-hand or rental board – or on whatever else that floats and can be ridden!
Evandro – Lanzasurf