As a surf instructor, a question I get asked on a daily basis is “What should I get for my first surfboard?” If this is you, then look no further my dear friend.
As a beginner, choosing your first surfboard can be a daunting experience. Surfboards come in many different shapes and sizes and it’s not a “one fits all” scenario. That’s why we have to put together a list of the key things to look for, so you can spend less time searching and more time in the water.
Buoyancy and the surfer’s weight
When choosing your first surfboard the buoyancy is one of the most important things to consider. The Buoyancy of a surfboard is determined by its shape and its dimensions i.e length, width and thickness.
The combination of the shape and dimensions result in the buoyancy measured in Volume (litres) which resolves its flotation considering the surfer’s weight.
Now if a child with a weight of 35 Kg jumps on a board with a volume of 90 litres the board will sit nice and high on the water, while a grown man of 90 Kg will drop much lower on the very same board. The more you float on top of the water the less resistance you experience while paddling. This means you will be able to paddle faster and catch waves with less effort. This demonstrates how important it is to consider your weight when purchasing a surfboard. As a rule of thumb: Do NOT be afraid of too much volume! Rather pick a board with more floatation!!!
This is a volume chart of the Gnaraloo Soft Surfboards that we use at Go Surf Perth. It gives you a good indication of the dimensions and volume of a surfboard that would suit your weight.
The shape of the board is related very closely to its buoyancy. A wider outline gives the board more speed and stability, allowing the surfer better balance. Boards with a wider nose provide a major advantage in small and gutless waves by helping to paddle quicker and enter green/unbroken waves earlier, which gives us more time to stand up.
The surfer’s height and board size
When it comes to your height the flotation of your board is not as important anymore. But the length of the board might be. Depending on their take-off technique many people find it easier to stand up on a board when their toes don’t reach over the edge of the tail. So before deciding what length you want to go for ask your friends or your local surf school if you can try a few different boards. See if your toes can be rested on the tail while lying in the right spot.
Surfboards are made from many different materials these days. Most mainstream surfboards are made of polyester or epoxy resin, fiberglass and foam. Some have an additional soft foam cover on top. These boards are called soft bards and are generally less fragile than most hard boards without this cover. Soft boards are typically a better choice for busy beaches in summer. Many beaches in Perth are patrolled in summer and also enforce rules that don’t permit the use of hard boards between the flags of the swimming area. Soft boards are much safer for busy summers with the added benefit of being kid friendly.
What does such a board look like? Here’s an example:
How often will you be surfing?
Do you prefer to surf when going on a family vacation for a few weeks a year? Or can’t you wait till the week of work is over and you can surf all weekend? Or are you even that committed that you want to paddle out every morning before work?
You’re best off to be honest with yourself when answering this question, because surfing means practice. A lot of practice. The more time you spend in the water the faster you will see progress. If you cannot jump into the ocean that often you’d be well advised to stick with a board that is suitable for a beginning or intermediate surfer instead of trying your luck on a short and thin pro board.
What is your budget?
The price of a new surfboard depends on where and how it is produced and what materials have been used. In general a brand new board can be purchased for 500-800$. At the same time most boards are very fragile, which is why a lot of surfers choose to buy a second hand board. Local surf shops, websites like “gumtree” or facebook groups like “Perth Surfboard Buy and Sell”, “WA Surfboard Buy & Sell” or “W.O.F.”. Alternatively, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We often have second hand soft surfboards for sale and can provide advice on your purchase.
Considering all the points mentioned above a suitable first surfboard for a beginning or intermediate surfer would be a “mini-malibu (minimal)”, which has the following features:
- Similar shape to a traditional longboard but shorter and usually found in the 7 – 8 foot range
- Generous outline gives the surfer enough speed and stability to start surfing in foam waves while the wider nose provides good flotation in the front of the board to enter green waves early when progressing further
- Shorter length makes it easier to control than a classic longboard
- So overall the minimal is the perfect board to start surfing and progress. Many good surfers still have their minimal in their quiver since it is a very versatile board. The Material of choice depends on who surfs the board where and on your budget.
If you’re after a beginner friendly board for Perth conditions you might be interested in having a look at Catch Surf Boards, who offer a very good range of boards at very high quality
If you’re still not sure what‘s right for you, get in the water with some lessons. Our beginner lessons use boards suitable to Perth conditions and our instructors will set you up with the board for you.
With summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to find your first board so you can get out there faster!