Before you choose a surfboard, there are many points you will need to consider.
Different surfboards suit different surfing levels.
If you are a total beginner you are best off starting on a soft surfboard or longboard. This way you will have a surfboard that will provide you with the stability you will need as paddling, catching waves and balance will all be new to you.
Intermediate surfers on the other hand have a much broader range to choose from including shortboards and fish surfboards. As your level of surfing is now beyond that of a beginner yet below that of a professional, you can start to experiment a bit with the type of surfboards you choose to ride.
Your age will play a huge factor in determining the right surfboard for you.
Smaller kids and teens will need smaller surfboards. This is for a number of reasons.
Firstly they are very short. This means that they won’t need as much foam to keep them a float and can opt for a shorter surfboard.
They also need to be able to handle the surfboard in the water. If the surfboard they use is for the average surfer, 6’0 and up, they won’t be able to turn the surfboard as well or maybe even duck dive under the crashing waves.
Lastly they need to be able to physically carry their surfboard under their arm; otherwise you will be the one lugging it around for them!
Teens and fit young adults also generally weigh less than the average person and so they too can get away with smaller, thinner boards.
However they may need to choose a surfboard with a little bit more thickness to add more volume to their surfboard. This is due to the fact that as kids grow up they start to weigh more, or get heavier. Therefore they need a surfboard that will continue to keep them afloat!
If you are getting on in age and can no longer throw the tail at the lip like you used to, you may want to consider choosing a surfboard such as a longboard for you next surfboard purchase. This will allow you to paddle easier and cruise across the face of the wave.
The more you weigh the wider and thicker the surfboard you ride will have to be to keep you a float. So you must keep this in mind when you choose a surfboard.
Width describes the length of the surfboard across from one side to the other, while thickness describes the surfboard distance from the deck through to the bottom, measured at the centre of the surfboard.
As you add more width and thickness to a surfboard outline you add more foam producing a more stable, floaty ride. The reason this is so good for the larger riders is that it causes your body weight to produce less drag as your surfboard tries to glide across the face of the wave.
When you choose a surfboard your height will determine the length of the surfboard you need.
Generally the taller you are, the longer the surfboard will need to be. For a beginner a very basic rule of thumb is to go for a surfboard that is about 1 foot longer than your height.
Therefore if you are 6 feet tall, a 7 foot long surfboard will be tall enough to ensure that the nose of the surfboard does not get buried in the face of the wave as you attempt to catch waves.
Where are you planning on riding your surfboard? You will need to check out your local surf break and find out what sorts of surfboards are best for those particular wave conditions and wave size.
If you live where the waves are consistently small then you will be better off choosing a longboard. This will allow you to catch waves easier and ride small waves with minimal effort.
If you live where the waves are sloppy and mushy you will probably be wanting to work your way up to a fish surfboard. Fish surfboards are shorter and wider providing you with added speed needed to get by those annoying flat spots.
If you are lucky enough to live where they waves are always firing double overhead it would be best to choose a surfboard with some extra length with a pintail tail design. But these are best suited for the experienced surfers.
Your last option is a Flatwater SUP. This isn't to say the only time you can SUP is when it is flat, there are talented watermen that ride stand up boards in all conditions, but when it is flat, a Flatwater SUP is your best bet for having fun in the water. It will allow you to travel long distances. Flatwater SUPs can also be used on lakes and rivers.
If you are just starting out, are you planning on hitting the waves only on the weekends, or every day?
The more time you spend in the water the faster you will improve.
If you are planning on spending plenty of time in the water can probably choose a surfboard that is a bit smaller than what is recommended for a beginner. You will most likely get the hang of things faster and outgrow a beginner longboard or soft surfboard too quickly.
This way you save money and excel quickly.
If surfing is only going to be a past time and you won’t be paddling out more than once or twice a month, I would recommend you choose a surfboard like a longboard. You most likely won’t improve fast enough to be requiring a new surfboard within a year.
Remember - Not all surfboards are created equal, and what looks great and works well for your mate, won’t necessarily be the best surfboard for you!