Knowing what to look for when buying a surfboard is important for beginner and advanced surfers alike. Whether buying a surfboard new off the rack, picking up a used board, or ordering a custom board, there are a few common qualities that need to be checked out.
- Length: Shortboards are generally under six feet five inches and longboards are typically longer than nine feet (or three feet over the riders head). Boards that fall in the middle include funboards, hybrids, step-ups, and semi-guns. Beginner surfers should look for a board between seven feet and nine feet.
- Width: Wider boards are better for beginners and small waves. Buying a surfboard with narrower template will perform better in larger and steeper waves, but will not generate as much speed.
- Rocker: The curve of the board is called the rocker. More curve in the rocker is generally best for steeper waves with more critical drops. Surfers looking for a good small wave surfboard should consider buying a surfboard with a low rocker and a wide template.
- Tail shape: There are a handful of different tail templates around today. The most popular designs include the squash tail, the thumb tail, round tail, pin tail, fish tail, swallow tail, and bat tail. Each design has its own set of subtle nuances, but generally speaking, wide tails are better for producing speed in small waves and narrow tails are good for holding in a line in steep waves. Like most every aspect of board design, tail choice when buying a surfboard is largely based on the type of waves the board will be used to surf.
- Dings: It is always a good idea to check for dings before buying a surfboard. This is especially important for surfers looking to buy a used surfboard, but applies to buying new surfboards as well. Any crack in the glass of the board is considered a ding. Open dings will take on water and decrease the boards performance and strength. Pressure dings (dents that do not crack the glass) will also take a toll over time, but are not an immediate worry. Any discoloration around a ding indicates that the board is waterlogged.
- Delaminating: Any bubbles on the surface of the board indicate that the glass is delaminating. This is the beginning of the end for a surfboard. Don’t buy a board that is delaminating.
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