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How To Pick The Right Surfboard

By Lucas Coleman

Owner @CalibungaSurfLessons


1. Never pick a board because it looks cool.

Having been a surf instructor for over a decade, I’ve heard countless times from clients that they “Took one look at this board and HAD to have it”. And while I think it’s awesome when people get crazy excited to buy their first real board, don’t mistake amazing graphics for functionality.

First off, your board isn’t going to be looked upon as much as you think. Most of the time it spends outside of the garage is going to be in the water, if not underwater, away from admiring eyes. You are also going to have to conceal that amazing color pattern with #StickyBumps or #Sexwax.

Secondly, and more important, is to understand the shape of the board you are buying and why it is shaped that way. It may be subtle, but every single board out their (at least ones that are not the same make/model number) have subtle to severe differences that make them float, paddle, and turn in completely different waves.

Very small, narrow boards with extremely pointed noses are intended for large, steep, and heavy waves. Those boards and small, arched, and sharp looking in order to make sharp turns and drop into what looks like the face of a cliff. If you try and learn on a board like this, you will most likely give up before you are ever able to catch that first perfect wave, and that awesome board design of yours will be forgotten in the rafters of your garage.

On the flip side, flat, long, and wider boards are intended for small little bump waves that almost never break. If you are a total beginner, having a board like this is almost necessity. You will be able to learn more quickly because the board has a wider, more stable shape.

Now obviously there is about a thousand variations of different types and styles of “long boards” so let’s talk about that.

2. Learn about your local wave before you buy the board.

These days, surfboards are mostly mass produced by mega brands like #ChannelIslands #FirewireSurfboards or #Torq. But back in the day, if you wanted to buy a board, you would have to go to either a local #SurfboardShaper or a local shop that worked with a local shaper. This local shaper would design all of there surfboards to fit perfectly into the local wave.

Think of it like this. If you lived in the Rocky Mountains where it snows most of the year, and you went to your local car dealership, they would probably have a lot of AWD SUV’s on the lot, and probably not have a ton of convertibles. It was the same with surf shops. The boards in them are mostly designed to fit the wave perfectly.

It’s a little different these days. Now many major players shape board to work pretty well in a lot of different conditions, but none so perfect for one particular wave.

It will always pay off to choose the beach you want to surf at BEFORE you choose the board.

3. Peeps who work at surfboard shops usually don’t know what they are talking about.

This doesn’t mean they don’t surf really well. Quite the opposite. Mostly, they’ve spent more time on their surfing than they did an education. Hint’s the job. But these guys are not surfing instructors and many of them haven’t felt what it was like to be a beginner surfer since they were kids. They can’t relate to a person in their mid thirties who hasn’t had the luxury of spending ever morning for the last decade getting hammered on by waves.

They could spend twenty minutes talking about how amazing the #RobMachadoSeaside is and how unbelievable the turns are in smaller waves, but what they don’t mention is that without months of experience, you won’t stand a chance in popping up.

If you want good advice on what board to buy, my recommendation would be to either consult a local surf lesson company like #CalibungaSurfLessons or to check out our article of 5 Excellent Surfboard For Beginners.

This one seems like a no brainer but it the most common factor that people forget. If you are 6’2 and weight 190lbs, the board will ride a little different for you than someone who is 5’1 and 90lbs. Same board + different body types = Different board performance.

I’m 6’6 and about 190Lbs, so a short board for me is a little longer than what most would consider. If you are a smaller person, don’t get something that is so big it will carry you away, and if you are a big person, don’t get something so short that it won’t support your weight.

If you are a beginner, yes it’s important that you get something big enough to be ridable, but don’t get something that you will be the master of within a week. Surfboards are expensive. If you are dropping $700 on a board and are wishing you had something just a little more narrow and shorter a month later, you’ll regret not getting something that was more challenging to start out on but became more fun down the road. And remember, challenges are good, impossibilities are bad. Surf life is about balance.

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