The Balancing Act: Choosing The Right Surfboard For A Novice Surfer

Recreation & Sports Blog

When it comes down to it, surfing essentially consists of trying to balance on a slippery plastic board while the sea desperately tries to throw you off; for novice surfers, this is exactly as difficult as sounds. As such, most novice surfers like to pick out a forgiving surfboard designed for beginners, but with the vast array of surfboard types and configurations on offer it can be hard to tell which board is actually best for the novice surfer. Here are a few pointers on what to look out for when purchasing your first board:

Go big or go home

The sleek, highly maneuverable shortboards used by surfing pros have obvious appeal, but their relatively small size means they can be very unstable for an unsteady novice. As such, you might want to choose a longboard; the increased length of these boards provides excellent stability, and enables you to catch much smaller waves while practicing on less hectic beaches.

However, a conventional longboard may also be unsuitable for the rank novice, as they can be difficult to store and transport and their increased mass can make paddling a longboard an arduous endeavour. A good compromise is the funboard, which is longer than a shortboard but shorter than a longboard, and generally a few inches wider than either type of board. These intermediate configuration provides a nice balance between stability and portability, and will still be fun to ride once you find your feet.

Hard or soft?

Surfboards designed for the experienced surfer are generally made of hard epoxy materials, which make for excellent maneuverability and speed. However, hard boards can also be very slippery (especially if insufficiently waxed), and can cause serious injuries to other surfers and swimmers if you lose control of your board.

Novice surfers should therefore opt for 'soft top' boards, which are made from forgiving and highly buoyant plastic foams. These boards are slower and more difficult to steer, but the air trapped in the foam makes for a supremely buoyant and stable board that won't cause severe damage if it crashes into anything (or anyone). If you do choose one of these boards, however, you should bear in mind that the fins beneath your board are still stiff and capable of causing injury.

Paying the price

If you're just starting out surfing, it's probably a safe bet that you won't want to spend too much on your first board -- after all, you might be terrible at it even after months of practice. This generally tends to rule out the custom, handmade boards prized by the serious surfer, but a tight budget doesn't mean choosing an inferior board. The aforementioned soft top boards are generally quite inexpensive and ideal for novices, although their increased size and thickness can make transporting them rather pricey. 

If you're after an inexpensive beginner board that retains the looks (and style) of a traditional board, consider choosing a mass-produced board. These boards are often called 'pop-outs', and while they resemble handmade boards the automated manufacturing processes involved mean they are usually considerably heavier. While this is not a desirable trait for the serious surfer, it can actually be a boon for the novice -- increased weight means decreased speed, and also gives you more sturdy footing with little tendency to flex. 

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11 October 2016

Heading to the gym

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