Select A Surfboard



Buying a new surf board is one of life’s great pleasures!  However, with such a range of styles and constructions it can be a daunting task.  This guide provides some of the basics covering board types, board design, construction and fin set up.

This information will help you make a more informed choice with your first board.  We recommend heading to a surf shop and chatting with the staff, they tend to be highly knowledge about the board’s they stock and it give you a chance to see and feel and variety of possible options.

Board Types

Longboards are a classic surfboard with a length of 9ft or longer. These boards are ideal for beginners, offering great stability, paddling power, and glide on small waves.  As you progress a wide range of manoeuvres can be performed on a long board, include the iconic nose ride or hang ten.

Shortboard are higher performance surfboards that range in length from 5ft to 7ft.  Designed for experienced surfers who want to ride faster in steeper waves and perform more critical manoeuvres.

Funboards is the collective name for a wide variety of surfboards, typically around 7 to 8tf long with more volume than a traditional shortboard.  They are great for newer and intermediate surfers, work well in UK waves and can be a huge amount of fun.

Fish style surfboards are short and wide with a swallow tail design (that gives them their name). These boards are primarily used for smaller waves and are ideal for intermediate to advanced surfers. They offer plenty of speed which is great to getting past flat sections or dealing with slightly mushy UK waves,

Guns are long and narrow surfboards designed for experienced surfers who want to tackle big wave surfing.  These boards range from 7ft to 10ft and offer lots of paddle speed to help surfers get into large waves that are moving at pace.


Design characteristics

When talking about surf boards there are 4 key design characteristics that will keep cropping up.  We’ve been through the board shapes or types, and now we’re going to get into Rocker, Rails, Volume and Tails.  Understanding what this lot means will really help when chatting to others about board design and choosing what’s right for you.

The rocker of a surfboard refers to the curvature of the board from nose to tail.  If you lay a board on the ground, the more rocker it has, the more it’s nose and tail will curve upward.  More rocker generally means better turning and manoeuvrability, but harder to generate speed.  As such, boards with a steeper rocker tend to be suited to steeper waves, and flatter rockers to smaller, less steep waves where you need to generate more speed and glide.

Rails are the edges that run along the length of the board. They come in two categories; hard rails and soft rails. Hard rails have a more defined edge, better for digging into a wave when making sharp turns.  Softer, round rails don’t have so much bite making them suitable for more fun and cruisy types of board.

Volume is the amount of space the board occupies, a result of it’s length, width and thickness.  Volume is essential to the buoyancy of the board and directly affects how easy it is to paddle and catch waves. Generally, the more volume a surfboard has, the easier it is to catch waves and paddle.

The Tail of the surfboard has a big impact on how it surfs.   As rule of thumb, wider thicker tails carry more volume helping with stability and float, but are less manurable.  Narrower tails grip the wave better, but come at the cost of less stability.    The squash tail is the go to shape for most boards, combining some width for stability with a shape that still allows for good turning ability.  Fish or swallow tails are also very popular, especially in small waves where their extra volume helps with stability and speed generation.  In bigger waves when grip on the wave face becomes more important, the round tail is perfect, graduating to the pin tail in the biggest of conditions where grip and straight line speed are all that matters.

Fin Set Ups

Surfboard fin set-up can significantly impact your surfing experience.  Many surf boards now have 5 fin box set ups, so you can vary your fin set up depending on conditions and your style of surfing.

Single Fin was the only option for surfers back in the day, and they are still a favourite for many longboarders.  They allow for an elegant and smooth surfing style well suited to the grace of longboarding.

Twin Fin set ups can really enhance your boards speed and glide.  Another classic fins style they work really well on wider, fish style boards.

Thruster is the most commonly used fin set up and is comprised of three fins, one central fin and two smaller fins at the back. The thruster set up provides the best balance of stability, speed, and manoeuvrability making them the go to choice for performance surfing and the widest range of wave conditions.  They’re also great for novices or intermediate surfers.

Quad Fin Setup consists of four fins, two slightly smaller fins on either side at the tail of the board, and a slightly larger set in front of them.   These fins provide extra speed and stability, which is excellent for big open carves and for greater acceleration in a wider range of wave types.

Hopefully this guide has given you the fundamentals on board design and you can now go and chat to your local surf shop or shaper with a bit more confidence.    Take your time and enjoy!

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