For starters, taking a surf lesson at the closest beach will give you a great idea of the type of surfboard you should be riding as you building your surfing skills. Another good hint is to pay attention to the surfers who frequent your home break and keep a mental note of the boards they have strapped to their car racks. The guys who rip are likely to have wafer-thin, high-performance thrusters, while the less-skilled surfers will probably have much longer, wider boards. As with all things, there are always exceptions to the rule, and sometimes even top-notch surfers will elect to ride something other than a high-performance short board. In general, however, it is recommended that beginning surfers choose longer, wider, thicker boards to provide a stable platform for learning the proper techniques and fundamentals of surfing. Below are four types of surfboards that are great for those just getting their feet wet in the sport of surfing.
SOFT TOP SURFBOARDS. These boards are sometimes called ‘foamies’ or ‘soft tops,’ and they are the primary type of board used by surf schools and instructors when teaching new students the fundamentals of surfing. As the name of the board implies, the primary characteristic of soft top surfboards is the soft foam core, which not only makes them safer for beginning surfers who are more prone to falling, but also extremely buoyant and stable. Another benefit of foamies is their durability, which is also why they are popular with surf schools that need boards that will stand up to a lot of punishment and collisions in the water.
LONGBOARDS. In the earliest days of surfing, surfboards were big – really big. The solid wood surfboards of the early 1900s could range in size from 10-12ft and weigh upwards of 100 pounds. Today, board construction materials have improved to make longboards much more user-friendly, while still maintaining the ease of paddling and stability levels that make them popular options for beginners. The combination of length and thickness that longboards possess allow them to catch even the smallest waves, which means more opportunities to practice paddling, standing, and riding.
Funboards usually range in size from 6-8 feet and are ideal boards for beginning surfers who are ready to advance past soft top boards. Basically, a funboard has the same general dimensions as foamies or soft tops, but are made using traditional foam and fiberglass materials. As such, funboards are normally the best option when it comes to beginning surfers looking to buy their very first surfboard. Funboards are known for their versatility, as well as being good transitional boards for longboarders wanting to try shortboarding. Conversely, some beginners choose to progress from funboards to longboards – it really all depends on the style of surfing they want to emulate.
FISH. As your skills progress, a good option before jumping to a high-performance short board is the fish. Designed in San Diego in the 1970’s, the fish quickly gained a following for its speed and looseness, particular in small, mushy surf. For beginners, the fish provides a wide, solid platform to help make paddling and catching waves much easier. It is also significantly shorter than the other boards mentioned above, opening up the possibility to try out more short board-like maneuvers.