Adventure, curiosity, and experimentation come naturally to most people. As the summer season starts, you want to know all about surfboards. But if you don’t know how to surf, the first step itself (acquiring a board) is intimidating. Of course, you can visit the beach with your friends and practice on their board, but chances are, you won’t make much progress. That’s because you don’t have the right equipment.
Surfing equipment needs to be extensively individualised to the user. Just as your friend’s wetsuit might not fit you, their board probably does not. How do you get a board that’s perfect for you? Read on and find out.
Things to Consider
Don’t be overconfident in how much you know. Surfing is one of those things that looks easy because you see many people doing it, but it is the opposite of a cakewalk. Consider how good you are: Can you handle a high tide? Or unsteady waters? Do you know any complicated tricks? Different skill levels require different boards.
How Often Do You Surf?
This is probably closely related to your skill level. You don’t surf very often if you’re not skilled. Nevertheless, if surfing is only a summer activity you do a few times a year, there’s no point buying a board that is very advanced and expensive. Estimate your skill level depending on how many chances you’ll get to practise, and buy accordingly.
Consider your height and weight, but also your size. Anyone in fitness can tell you that while these are linked, they do not share a strictly linear relationship. You can look skinny but have comparatively higher weight if you have heavy bones. Consider these three independently before choosing a board that best suits your unique combination of all three.
Apart from the three above-mentioned personal features, the following aspects vary between boards when you’re at the shop.
Surfboards come in different materials: the decision is hardboard vs softboard. If you’re a beginner, choose a softboard. If you’ve taken swimming lessons, you might have some experience with ‘foamies’. They pose a decreased risk of injury and are easier to control. They’re usually bigger, though. If you don’t have a truck or a big car or live close to the beach, carrying it might be a problem.
Get a hardboard only once you’re confident about surfing and have built good balance and paddling power.
Volume and Buoyancy
These two are closely linked, but if you practise at different beaches, you’ll realise that your board behaves differently in different waters. The density of the water matters a lot in how buoyant your board is. It shouldn’t easily sink you, but it isn’t uncooperative.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you might want to try new things. Do some research on fins. You can try out a friend’s first if you like. For beginners, leashes are important: you don’t want your brand-new board to be lost forever at sea. Leashes go around your leg so you can stay attached to your board even if you lose balance. Wax can also help you perform better if you’re a beginner. Board wax can improve your grip and prevent you from falling off.
When buying a board, browse the (online) store to see if you can purchase these accessories. Without them, you might not be able to master the skill, no matter how expensive or high-end your board is.
And finally, remember to buy an attractive one. Purchasing a design you like is better than refurbishing your board and potentially spoiling it.