Sofa to Surf: Buying a surfboard
Buying the right equipment is essential to being a surfer.
Your surfboard and wetsuit are your ticket to ride, so don’t make the wrong choices as it will make your surfing experience a misery instead of a joy. It’s your money, time and sanity at stake so get it right with these top tips. After the learner stage you need to decide if you would prefer to be a longboarder or a shortboarder. You can then progressively up or downsize your boards, however don’t jump straight to one of the extremes, as you will find it very difficult to paddle, handle new speeds and even catch waves. For example if you want to ride shorter boards, downsize from a mini-mal to a fish before hitting your shortboard goal.
As you progress upwards from your lonely struggles in the white water and onto the green faces you’re going to want a new board. The fastest way to learn is by gradually reducing the length of your board as your skill and strength increases. Remember jumping straight onto a shortboard is just like jumping into a Formula One car without taking any lessons. Not only will you not be able to handle the speed and manoeuvrability, but you won’t be able to paddle it or catch any waves. Here’s a guide to the boards you need for your ability. After the initial ‘foamy’ learning period, progression should be made onto a minimal or fun board, then a large thruster and finally onto the modern high performance shortboard. Give yourself time to get used to each board before moving onto a shorter model.
Types of board
You have to be honest with yourself about your surfing ability for this one, as that will play the main part in the type of board you should go for.
Whether you’re buying your first board or progressing on to a higher performance board, it can be confusing. Surf shops are full of colourful sleek designs but at this stage it’s vitally important and that you choose your stick sensibly and allow your surfing to develop. It’s no good having a shiny new all singing, dancing board if you sink every time you sit on it! So here are some tips to get you through the murky waters of making a surfboard purchase.
Make sure your new board is the right size.
Let’s assume the board you learnt to surf on was a second-hand funboard or minimal. It’s important not to make too big a jump down in size. Sure you want something more responsive and easier to duck-dive, but if you buy a board with insufficient volume you simply won’t be able paddle into the waves early enough. In other words don’t buy a sexy 6’1” just because it looks cool. (Do you want to be a poser, or do you want to ride waves?) If you’re an average sized girl go for something around 6’6” to 6’8” long, by 19” wide, by 2-3/8” thick. When you’re ready to move onto a super-short high performance board you’ll know it.
Avoid extreme design features.
Simple, clean shapes work in a greater range of conditions than boards with extreme design features such as channels, concaves, wings and so on.
Go surf ya brains out!
At first you’ll probably feel pretty wobbly on your new board, since it’ll be a lot less stable than your old plank. But what you lose in stability, you gain in manoeuvrability. Once you get your feet in the right place and find the ‘sweet spot’, you’ll know you’ve made the right move. Work at your new relationship – it’ll take time to adjust to the new pace of life!
This is an extract from The SurfGirl Handbook. For more info on equipment get a copy of the book here.