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Everything You Wanted to Know About Surfboards



Choosing a Surfboard

You can learn to surf on any board you like, and many times it is tempting to select the board that appears really cool, however some surfboards are more appropriate than others for beginners.  Remember that the first board is to teach you how to surf a wave not to make you look cool.  To maximize your surfing progress, you must start on the right board.

Your first surfboard will help you master the basics of paddling, getting into the waves, standing up and getting down the line. Use it until you feel ready to move on to a board that will give you more performance.

Buying a surfboard for the first time and finding the right board to fit your individual needs may seem a little confusing. There are several important factors to consider when buying a surfboard, including: your height & weight, your level of experience and the type of waves you’ll be surfing in. 

Information About Surfboards
Compliments of

Here is a look at what the essential parts of a surfboard are called.



Deck The Deck is the top side of the surfboard and is where the surfer stands to surf and lays to paddle. Wax is applied to this top surface for grip. Often surfers will use deck grip for extra traction. If you look at the deck of a surfboard you will usually see a slight camber from the rail to the middle then back to the rail. This is know as a Domed Deck and helps promote easy rail to rail movements. The other type of deck is the Flat Deck - no prizes for guessing what this type looks like.
Nose The nose of the surboard sits out of the water. On shortboards, fish and guns the Nose is normally pointed and on funboards / minimals and longboards the Nose is usually rounded. This is by no means set in stone. Some surfers use a surfboard nose guard which can protect the surfboard from dings and also protect the surfer from a good poke from a disgruntled board!
Tail The tail is at the back of the board. There are quite a few different tail shapes with each shape providing different board performance.  As pointed out in the above diagram, the tail will have a Leash Plug. This plug is where the leash is attached to the surfboards. The plug is set into the deck and the leash is looped through.
Rails The rails are the 'edge' of the surfboard and run from the tail to the nose and are where the deck and the bottom meet. Like the tail shapes, different rail rail shapes provide different surfboard performance. It may not be something you have thought about but take a look at the different shapes next time you are in a surf shop.
Stringer The Stringer is a strip of strengthening material (typically wood) that runs the whole length of a foam surfboard. It is already present in the surfboard blank before it is shaped. Epoxy, Soft and Carbon Fibre surfboards will not often have stringer.

The modern surfboard is hand shaped by professional shapers out of foam, and finished with a fibreglass coat. They are light and strong. The leading edge of surfboard design changes quickly. Here are the basic elements you will need to know;

Length :
The length is the most influential aspect of a board's design and is a good place to start when considering what dimensions your first surfboard should be. For beginners looking to learn as quickly and as easily as possible, bigger usually means better. A longer board will offer easier paddling and more stability under it's rider's feet. Many first time surfboard buyer's, will find a board that is 18-24 inches taller than it's rider to be the easiest to learn on. However this may vary, depending on the weight of the surfer too.

Width :
The width of your first surfboard will determine how stable it feels, and how easy it is to control. A wider board will offer beginning surfers a definite advantage in smaller conditions, and is best for learning on. For this reason the width of a first board should be at least 19 inches or greater.

Thickness :
The thickness of a surfboard directly affects how well it floats. More floatation means a smoother ride once standing and less fatigue from paddling. For most surfers a thickness of 2.5 inches is sufficient in a first board. However, since the proper thickness is mostly determined by the surfer´s weight, heavier surfers may benefit from a thicker board.

Template :
The term template refers to a board´s overall outline. A board with a template that is wide throughout the nose, center, and tail of the board is best for the beginner. This will offer the rider a more forgiving feel and better overall balance. A fuller template will also make paddling much less difficult

The Beginner Surfer

For the beginning or novice surfer, purchasing a soft surfboard, called foamies, is the most practical decision. Good quality soft surfboards are comparatively inexpensive and are highly durable. For stability and ride quality, soft surfboards should have a wooden stringer down the center of the board, rails on the edges, and a sturdy deck.  A board that bends is extremely difficult to ride.  Good soft surfboards are padded, have flexible fins and come with a safety leash.  Being soft, these boards are less dangerous than conventional fiberglass boards; the rider won’t suffer a serious injury if the board hits their head or face.  The soft foam construction means the boards are incredibly buoyant, enabling the beginner to catch waves easily and their dimensions make it very stable and easy for the novice to stand. 

Once a surfer has graduated from or wants to skip the soft board, the next board is made of fiberglass.  A longboard should be the type of board you purchase for your first real surfboard.  A longboard is a large buoyant board so it will allow you to easily paddle to catch a wave and help with timing and balance.  Longboards are made for cruising on small waves, so you can stand up and get the feel for riding in relatively calm conditions.

The Intermediate Surfer

Once you become comfortable riding the waves, the next step is to learn to turn and maneuver.  The shape of surfboard that gives you a balance between agility and stability is the funboard shape.  This type of board is good for turning, maneuvering as well as general wave riding.  It is an all purpose surfboard that is good for recreational surfing.  The fun board is ideal for a beginner who wants to catch small waves, yet learn some turns and tricks.  In addition, it will work on medium sized waves as surfing skills improve.

The Experienced Surfer

The shortboards are most agile and best suited for performing tricks.  Shortboards are short, narrow and thin.  To get used to the short style, your first shortboard should be on the thicker side, for buoyancy.   When you are ready for advanced tricks, smaller in every aspect is better.

Purchasing For a Teenager...

At this age you have to consider how often and how aggressive they will surf as well as what type of board their friends use.  The beginner board rule of the more stable the board  the better still applies.  However, for a beginner in this age group that has friends who surf ‘short boards’ \ and who can get to the beach on a regular basis the ‘right board’ will be totally different than for somebody who goes to the beach occasionally in the summer and who’s friends are just beginners too.  A fun board is definitely easier to learn on but if the beginner is aggressive to learn and the people they surf with ride shorter boards, a fun board probably would get ‘old’ pretty quick. Talk to the experts at your local surf shop for advise.

Surfboards for Women...

There are now surfboard manufacturers that design boards specifically for women.  They are designing boards that are easy to turn but yet stable. The take into consideration arm length, and board weight so that a women can easily carry it to the beach.  Lastly, the boards are in-tune with a women's body. 

Choosing a Surfboard:


Shortboard is also known as the Thruster and is the most popular type of surfboard.  It is  used to perform quick maneuvers on waves and the size of these boards are generally from around 5'8'' to 6'10''



Longboards are also known as Malibu boards and range eight to fourteen feet long.  Longboards are universally common among both beginners and skilled surfers alike. The main reason why longboards are more suitable for beginners is because of the board's size and frequency of catching waves. Longboards are less aggressive than shortboards and are made for cruising small to medium sized waves. The main difference in design between a long board and a shortboard is that the nose of the Longboard is rounded.



The Mini-Malibu is one step short of the traditional longboard. It is a fun-board and allows an easy paddle into waves. It is a very common board in the line-up in small, playful summer surf.



The Fish is very similar to a Shortboard but is smaller in length. The lack of length is made up by an increase in the width of the board, giving it a slightly more rounded shape. Fish are generally between 4'8'' and 6'0''.  A fish is great for fast surfing with quick direction changes in small surf.  



The Gun is a bigger version of the Shortboard and is used in the big wave arena. The increased length of the board makes it possible to paddle into bigger waves. The Gun can be anywhere from 7'2'' in length to over 12' for the really big waves


Surfboard Care

The wax on a surfboard goes on the top of the board and it is used to help prevent the surfer from sliding on the board.  Apply wax from the edge of the bar, dragging it across the surface of the board.   As you continue to apply your wax it will build into bumps all over the riding surface of your board

If you want to clean old wax off, leave your board in the sun for a while or use a hair dryer to get it soften and then use a wax comb or plastic scraper. A citrus based cleaner on a cloth will clean up the rest.

To protect your board keep it out of direct sunlight, UV rays will deteriorate the fiberglass skin and cause discoloring. 

A boardbag helps to protect the board when transporting it. Most damage to surfboards is caused in transport and in storage.

Ding Repair

Sooner or later you are going to ding your surfboard. It is important to get it fixed immediately.   There are websites that cover ding repair in detail, and ready-to-go repair-kits are available for purchase.  Most surf shops sell permanent resin patch kits with full instructions starting at about $20.  If you do not know what you are doing bring it to the surf shop to get it repaired.  Whatever direction you choose remember that it is important to keep the board looking good and working correctly.

Board Wax

A pioneer in the development of wax, Mr. Zogs Sex Wax has been around for over 35 years. His unique formula provides exceptional traction in all conditions.  It is important for you to get the proper wax for your surf conditions.  Talk to the local surf shop they will normally carry the wax needed for their area.

Wax Temperature Guide:

  • Basecoat - Use as your first layer of wax
  • Cold - 60F & Below / 15C & Below
  • Cool/Cold - 69F & Below / 21C & Below
  • Cool - 58-68F / 14-19C
  • Warm - 64-74F / 19-28C
  • Warm/Trop - Above 75F / 24C
  • Tropical - 75F & Above / 24C & Above