So, you’ve had a few surf lessons and you’ve caught the bug, you’re ready to take on surfing the big blue alone and want to buy yourself your first surfboard!
Full of excitement, you hop on the net to pick a board and soon realise that there are just so many options from sizes and shapes to brands and price brackets. Without any guidance it can be overwhelming and you could end up buying an overpriced board that is completely wrong for you. Here’s where Westcountry surf school comes to the rescue with our ultimate surfboard guide!
Below we will give you the low down on our favourite brands that we’ve tried and tested, a rough size guide and the right time to change boards.
Foam boards are a perfect entry level board and the composition of the foam body and flexi plastic fins make it a lot safer than fiberglass or epoxy surfboards. Foamies are also usually wider and thicker than hardboards which give them maximum stability and float to get you up and riding nice and quick, STOKED.
We would recommend staying on a foam board until you have perfected your pop up and wave catching technique. A foam board will always be a little more forgiving when catching waves and paddling perfect for solidifying the basics.
At Westcountry we use boards with a high-density foam top and a slick plastic bottom. This gives you a smooth fast ride and allow you more control than a full foam surfboard such as a swell board.
The size of the board needed will depend on your weight and ability so for the guides purpose we will base all these suggestions on a beginner surfer who has had a few or no lessons.
Here’s a basic guide for what board size you should be looking at:
Good for larger, heavier adults and people who need more stability usually down to flexibility/balance issues, these boards give you plenty of stability and time to get to your feet.
8ft Foamie -
Good for smaller build adults, women and teens
7’ft 6 Foamie-
Good for pre-teens
Good for young children up to around 8/9 years old
Here’s a few of our favourite beginner foam board brands and shapes (they all come in a variety of sizes from 6ft-9ft):
So that’s all our basic shapes for beginner surfers... but what about the surfer who is in between stages and needs a little more out of their board. You want to start performing basic manoeuvres and turning but not sacrifice the paddle power and stability of a foam board… no worries we got you covered..this is the perfect time to jump on a foam board that is slightly more refined.
These boards will be the same length as entry level foamboards (6ft+) but not as wide and not as thick. This will mean the boards are much more responsive to weight distribution. More foam equals more stability and less manoeuvrability.Less foam equals less stability, more responsive.
So to sum it up when you start out bigger more floaty boards are your friend and as you progress you can scale down to slightly less foam ultimately giving you more control.
Here are a few of our favourite progressive foam boards:
The pivotal point in any surfer’s journey, buying your first hardboard. Endless choices of pristine gleaming boards crying out for a drop of salty water.
One of the most important things to bare in mind is that you should only purchase a hardboard when you are confident in paddling out into a lineup safely, catching waves and popping up successfully every single time… well almost every time, even the best surfers fall it’s all part of the fun!
Jokes aside, when riding hardboards, you are dealing with something that could injure you or someone else with and therefore it should betaken seriously. You need to be confident in controlling your surfboard in waves that match your ability.
Hardboards, like foam boards can come in an endless selection of shapes and sizes. If you are transitioning from a foam board to a hardboard length is still going to be your friend. They wont usually be as thick or as buoyant as a foamy therefore the length is still beneficial.
We usually tell people to stick around the 8ft mark give or take a few inches depending on your size/ weight. If you are a heavier surfer hard boards 8ft to 9ft will be perfect usually known as longboards/mini mals.
Smaller surfers should go for something between 6ft and 8ft.The same rule of thumb as foam boards except hardboards are much more refined and will enable you to really perfect your skills and push your surfing to the next level.
Remember not to go too small too quick, a common sight at WatergateBay in the summer is people attempting to surf on boards way too advanced for them leading to incredible frustration. You didn’t have a bad surf you had the wrong equipment!
Unless you are riding a hardboard 8ft+ you will notice alack of stability and buoyancy compared to the foam boards which is why we strongly advise staying on a foam board until you are competent.
Board choice will ultimately come down to which way you’d like to take your surfing to start with, there’s no right or wrong. You can stay on a big board and go down the longboarding route or you decrease your board size and shape to something more manoeuvrable and performance orientated and there’s a board for just about everything in between.
We say try everything and as long as you are having fun... you're doing it right!