By Robb Bailey
If you’re just learning to surf, the kind of board you use is second to learning the ins and outs of the sport. At South Coast Surf Shops we get a lot of beginners looking to purchase the right surfboard straight away, with no real experience in the water. The best approach is to get your feet wet before you pull out your credit card, using as many surfboard types as you can in order to learn what your style preference is.
If you can ride a handful of demo boards or borrowed boards before you buy, all the better. Once you’ve gotten a handle on the sport and the handling abilities of different surfboards on a wave, you will come to understand the art of choosing your perfect surfboard. Then you can make the investment of buying a surfboard that you can be happy riding every day.
First things first: be sure to start learning with a bigger board. Most beginners learn how to surf on a long board, a board that is at least nine feet long. Any board longer than nine feet will be much easier to learn on because it will be much more comfortable to lie down on, much faster to paddle out to the break, and much easier to catch a wave. With time, practice, and patience, you will be standing up on your long board and catching waves in no time. At that point, you may consider a smaller board.
Let’s talk a bit more about the advantages of the long board. The factors that allow you to catch a wave are the size of the wave, the velocity of the wave, and the quality of your board. The key for beginners is to not get a board that is too short or too narrow. You will be much happier starting out on a long, wide board, as you will catch more waves and get more practice standing up. You’ll have far less inclination to lug a heavy board around with you, so find a board that is light enough to carry around. The thickness of the board doesn’t matter as much, but try to get a board that will fit comfortably under your arm or one that you can actually carry for at least two blocks. [click to continue…]