Softlite Softboards are a great way to start your surfing. If you’re a Beginner you get an easy and safe start with quick progression. If you’re already a surfer they’re a great way to go crazy and mix it up. On a Softlite softboard you’ll get the best of any surf conditions. When it’s small and junky you can go to a whole new level of surfing fun. When the waves are good you can charge.
Softlite are especially good softboards as they’re designed and made by top Shapers and Surfers. From their construction through to board design and model range you’ll get a surfing experience you won’t find from any other softboard.
Let’s check out Softlite softboards.
The deck of the Softlite softboard is clean of any protruding plugs or fin screws. You can see the fins on the bottom of the board but there’s no fin screws on the deck. This greatly reduces rash and toe discomfort. Note the leash plug, for the same reason, is inset in the deck
Softboards, by their nature, are soft. This is good as if you get a bump you won’t get hurt. They’re also comfortable to surf as having a soft deck you don’t get sore ribs and rash as with a hard fibreglass surfboard. However one of the biggest problems with softboards for Beginner and all surfers is their softness.
With Softlite you can carve with all the power of a normal surfboard without having your softboard flex and flop
Without high quality construction and materials softboards degrade very quickly. It could be one big hit from a wave that does it. Or just the constant wear of getting out through the break or standing on the board. Low quality softboards quickly become too flexi to surf properly, bending on the wave, even breaking.
Softlite Quality Core
One of the biggest advantages of a Softboard is that you can surf it anywhere there’s waves even in the flags & among swimmers with minimal risk
Softlite put a lot of focus on construction quality. They use premium quality EPS foam in the core. This type of foam is strong and resilient specially chosen to take wave impact while retaining its integrity. The EPS is 100% waterproof. So in the event that you get a ding your Softlite will not take on water. The core gets its shape in a special moulding process and this adds a tough outer layer adding strength.
This is a pic at Pipeline Hawaii, one of the heaviest waves in the world. Check how the Softlite softboard is holding its line and shape taking on the power
Internal of the board Softlite include stringers embedded in the foam. These are reinforcements that run the length of the board similar to what you see in normal surfboards. This gives the board strength while helping retain its shape. Softlite has designed their own unique stringer system. Eco super-material bamboo is used to provide strength and the right amount of flex. If a board is too brittle it will break easily. Fibreglass and epoxy are added to the bamboo giving strength and recoil.
It’s not just about being stiff. Recoil is a key component that manages the flex of a softboard, giving you an energy boost as you go out of turns enhancing your surfing
Recoil is an important part of softboard surfing. It means that as you go into a turn your board will flex storing up the wave energy then release it giving you a boost out of the turn.
So Softlite’s stringer system will give you a performance boost and keep your board surfing great while protecting against breakage and loss of shape.
Fast Bottom Slick
No wiggling or pumping needed to get speed. The Softlite quality slick gives you speed so you can cruise
The bottom of the Softboard has a slick similar to that on a bodyboard. This is a heavy duty plastic-like layer that protects the board while not being hard enough to harm if you get a bump. This slick though gives your board speed. It helps you catch waves and once on the wave the slick glides helping you turn and carve.
Fins & No Deck Bumps
Above, using a fin system you can swap out your fins to change your board performance. Below, there’s a range of accessories from Softlite including fins, so you can get the best out of your softboard
So you get safety Softlite softboards come with soft fins. There’s thruster 3 fin and Quad 4 fin setups, so your surfing will progress with the mainstream. However rather than as on low quality boards where the fins are just screwed in, Softlite use a proven Bones and Shanks fin box that allows you to quickly install and remove your fins. This is also super handy for transport.
You can also upgrade your fins to stiff fins as you progress, radically improving the performance of your softboard. Stiff fins will allow you to carve harder turns, giving you greater control to do what you want on the wave face.
The slick, core and the entire board are put together with a high quality lamination process. Checking the board you can see it’s super well bonded together.
Above, Softlite softboards really surf. Below, when the waves aren’t so great you can mix it up too
The design of the surfboard is key to how it will surf for you. Softlite has used the expertise of Shapers and Surfers to give you designs that work.
Fun Forgiving Rails
Check how tiny this wave is. The rails and whole board design work to give you the best surfing experience. Even in small waves you aren’t limited to just going straight, you can surf, you can have a heap of fun
Quality of design is immediately noticeable on the rails. These are the thin sides of the board. Most softboards have square clunky rails that catch in the wave keeping you stuck going straight. You’ll notice Softlite’s rails slope from the deck into a nice rounded curve. This is very important as it reduces the feeling that you’re surfing on the wave to being in the wave. You have to feel that you are in the wave to control your board and progress your surfing.
Manly Surf Hire has a full range of softboards including Softlite boards so you can try a board for yourself
The rail shape also helps with forgiveness. As a Beginner as you start to turn you won’t catch and be constantly falling off. The rails will help you stay on making your turns. As a good surfer you can go hard just like surfing on your normal board getting maximum performance and fun.
Full Range of Models
Above, there’s a wide range of Softlite softboards. Some are specifically for Groms but you can pretty much surf whatever you like. Below, a Grom loving his Softlite
There’s a wide range of Softlite softboard models to choose from.
For Beginner surfing it’s best to go with a softboard that’s long, big and thick with lots of volume. This will get you paddling easily out through the waves. It will get you catching waves, what you need to progress. On a big softboard you’ll get plenty of flotation so you can surf, not getting bogged down on the wave.
You can also charge on your Softlite
For Intermediate and Advanced surfers you get a selection of shortboard and fish boards that will allow you to really mix it up. You’ll catch waves you can’t catch on your normal board and still be performing all your surfing moves.
There’s generous good volume Softlites ideal for Beginners
In fact a Softlite Softboard can open up new levels and areas of your surfing. For example you could use a softboard to take on aerials. The risk of this high risk manoeuvre will be greatly reduced as a bad landing won’t break you or your board.
Using a Softlite softboard to get your aerial surfing going is a great low risk idea
As a Beginner surfer, a Softlite Softboard is a great way to start. If you’re a competent surfer and want to surf and get fun out of junky waves then the Softlite Softboard is the perfect answer. Go get some fun on your Softlite!
FK Surf accessories, also known as FarKing, are great value and fully functional additions to your surfing. You get products that are great value, robust, reliable and that work.
For daily fun surfs to when it’s pumping, from your local break to the World Surf League, FK Surf has what you need to get the best from your surfing.
FK Surf Team riders, up to World Surf League championship level rely upon FK Surf for their high end performance. So let’s check what FK Surf has for you.
FK Surf Product Range
A full range of traction for every foot, including your front foot
Wade Carmichael displaying one of his Finals trophies and FK Surf signature grip. Just one of his multi Final appearances in his first year on the WSL championship tour. It’s clear Wade’ ability and his FK Surf equipment are working. Below, FK traction comes in the 2 piece like the Psycho, 3 piece like the Mad Hueys, and front grip
There’s a full range of traction in the FK range. Everything from single, to two piece and three piece grips. Features including arch bars, no arch bars, and a range of kicks. For example check the Psycho tail pad. It gives you a massive 31mm kick to jam your back foot against to get hold. With this height you can easily feel the kick with your knee helping the placement of you back foot on takeoff.
The Psycho pad is also only 2 pieces. This is a great setup for narrow tail boards where you can separate the 2 pieces for a perfect fit but don’t need to cover too wide an area.
High speed blur, Mikala Jones charging with his Fk Surf gear
Another FK tail pad, the Wade Carmichael’s signature grip looks to be working pretty well. Wade is the only Aussie to make it to the World Surf League championship tour in 2018, and he’s continued charging. Being through to Finals in multi WSL events in his first year on tour gives a good indication as to Wade’s ability and the performance of his FK gear.
FK Surf Leashes
Competition through to heavy wave and longboard leashes. FK Surf’s range is comprehensive
Very few items of surf gear are as essential as a good leash.
Manly Surf Hire use FK Surf accessories with their gear due to its durability. You can try out some of the FK gear at Manly Surf Hire
You take your leash out of its wrapping, and without testing, trust it to keep your board with you through everything from small fun surf to life threatening killer waves. Separated from your board through a broken leash could mean the loss of a heat to something much more serious.
Out in the middle of nowhere with razor sharp reef in front of you. FK leashes keeping your board & you, safe and sound
There’s also the technology that’s needed for the leash to return your board to you in exactly the right way. If your leash stretches too much your board will be trapped in the impact zone and you caught too awaiting its release.
If your leash doesn’t stretch enough and is too responsive it can sling your board back at you. FK Suf has mastered the art of urethane technology to give you the perfect stretch characteristics.
Surf Accessories & Essentials
From the key lock to roof racks to wet caps, bike racks and day covers to wheelie travel coffins, your surf essentials are covered by FK Surf
For anything you need to follow your surfing pursuit, FK has a great range of products and solutions.
When travelling you’ve got your soft stretch board cover, to day trip bag, to super heavy duty 6 board travel cover. If you’re travelling eco on your bicycle or scooter FK has great bike racks.
FK Surf Team Mikala Jones putting his leash, wax and grip to the test under a heavy lip
In terms of surf hats you get variety with the long bill cap that keeps the sun out of your eyes while flipping out of the way, to the floppy cap giving 360 degree protection to head, neck and shoulders.
If you want to stick to your board, there’s a full wax range for the variety of water temperatures you surf.
FK Surf Team
FK Surf Team includes iconic Indo charger Oney Anwar, and Grom Search champ Liam O’Brien
We’ve already mentioned WSL Top 10 surfer Wade Carmichael, and there’s other great surfers on the FK Surf Team. So you’re in great company.
Indonesian charger and great competitive surf in his own right Oney Anwar uses his FK gear in the warmer tropical waters. Liam O’Brien, hailing from Burleigh brings Grom Search winning energy as he uses FK Surf accessories in his World Qualifying Series surfing.
Having surfers of this competitive calibre on their Team attests to the quality nature of FK Surf gear. It works and works well.
FK – Your Surf Essentials
When you setup your next new board or are planning travel or just needing to update your surf gear, check out FK Surf accessories.
NSP Surfboards has a great range of models, to take you all the way from a Beginner board to an Advanced board. Their range of models makes it easy to pick the right board to take your surfing where you want it to go.
Matched to their proven designs are a range of advanced construction technologies. So if you’re a Beginner wanting durability, an Intermediate wanting a balance of performance and fun, through to a higher end Advanced surfer, NSP has a board and construction technology for you.
A focus on constantly improving designs and technologies ensures you get the best surfing experience. Let’s check the NSP range.
NSP Surfboards – Beginner Board
A softboard with soft deck and rails with a special Beginner board design makes for great way to start surfing. NSP’s P2 construction offers exceptional durability
A softboard is a great board on which to start your surfing. You get the ideal Beginner board where the deck and rails are covered in soft foam. So if you get a bump there’s minimum consequence, compared to a hardboard. Soft fins likewise reduce the risk of any harm, while still giving you a proper thruster three fin surfing experience. The bottom of the softboard has a plastic slick so you get speed and fun on the wave.
The NSP P2 Beginner Board softboard range feature full noses, extra width and good thickness ideal to get you surfing
NSP bring all these features to their P2 range of Beginner boards but with a major difference.
While the Beginner board exterior has a soft outer covering, the interior is not like a softboard at all. The interior has its foam core wrapped in solid fibreglass and epoxy. This type of core is super strong while being relatively light.
A key difference of NSP P2 softboards over other softboards is the internal core. It’s not just foam. Its foam core is wrapped with epoxy and fibreglass giving you a super durable surfboard overcoming the problems faced by many Beginner boards
This P2 construction overcomes the biggest problem faced by Beginners on a softboard. The softboard, by its nature of being soft does not last in the surf.
Whether it’s one heavy wave that hits, or constant rider weight and wave pressure, softboards wear, bend and break. Once your softboard starts to overflex or flop it will no longer be very helpful to your surfing.
NSP P2 Beginner Board models also have a design purpose-made for Beginners. The boards have a wider outline so you get stability making it easier to get to your feet. The nose is wider so you get easier wave catching and once on the wave you get momentum to get you out of the foam and surfing on the wave face.
Board thickness is important as you progress your surfing. at the beginning you need to get good flotation for paddling, wave catching and riding. As you progress NSP refines your volume
The P2 Beginner board is thicker so you’ll float easily. You won’t be bogged down. Lastly you get your choice of length and board design to match where you want your surfing to go. Whether it’s to progress in shortboard surfing, cruise on a longboard, or just to get going and progress as fast as possible, there’s an NSP P2 Beginner board with exactly the right length and style for you.
NSP Surfboards – Intermediate Progression
At the Intermediate level NSP Surfboards offers a depth of great designs. You have a choice of longboard, shortboard, to fish and hybrid models
If you’re progressing from the Beginner stage staying on the longboard path, there’s long wide boards to keep your progress going, increasing performance while still being easy to ride. There’s still width in the nose, but more refined. The thickness of the board is likewise refined with special rails to balance speed and manoeuvrability with forgiveness. So you can progress your moves while still having fun. Overall you can easily get on these Intermediate boards and surf.
The NSP Elements Fish is a great board able to perform as far you can take it. Below, hanging ten on an Elements Longboard
If you’re progressing from the Beginner stage to a shortboard then there’s ideal transition boards. There’s oversize fish boards that give you width, thickness, refined rails and speed in a shorter board size. There’s a hybrid, that looks like a shortboard but bigger. They give you the benefits of the full nose and width, but with a tucked in tail. This tail helps you start to do carving turns, progressing from the flatter turns of a longboard.
Intermediate Construction Options
NSP’s E+ construction includes military grade materials. The board maintains its shape so performs as it was intended
Construction options cover super robust durable epoxy with multi fibreglass laminates. So the NSP Intermediate surfboards are durable, much more durable than a normal surfboard. There’s even a military grade laminate used that’s super strong in their E+ construction.
The decks of these NSP Coco Mat boards clearly show the coco nut fibre. Along with the use of bio resins you get a great eco surfing option
A great construction option is the environmentally friendly use of coconut husk fibres and eco friendly bio resins in the Coco Mat range. What a great idea to use an island style natural fibre to surf the waves.
At this Intermediate level you can also get high performance construction options with NSP’s Protech. This includes carbon fibre inserts that give you light weight. Board weight is a big factor in performance. It’s often a case of the lighter your board, the greater your performance potential.
An NSP Elements Longboard carving off the bottom
So NSP give you the option of performance or durability. You can also match the construction to the style of board you want. For example a stronger yet heavier construction will suit a carving longboard style. The lighweight performance construction suits a shortboard model. You can make your own choice.
NSP Surfboards – Advanced Boards
You can surf great on NSP boards. This is the NSP Protech Fish
At the Advanced level you can surf any of the NSP Surfboard models. The Protech construction giving you lightweight.
Why is this important?
NSP’s Protech range is light. This gives you added performance. The Protech boards are still super strong and durable with carbon inlays
Lightweight allows you to surf a board with less volume. It can be thinner with still giving you the same flotation as a thicker board. This reduction in thickness makes the board more responsive, something you need for quick performance turns on longboards and shortboards. So this is an aid to high performance surfing.
Being lightweight the boards also pickup the swell so helping you get more waves and more speed on the wave.
NSP PU Surfboards – Performance Option
Do these boards look the same as other NSPs? Check the stringer running down the middle. The PU range features traditional surfboard construction to give a different feel to your surfing
Beyond Protech, NSP has an even more advanced set of models, their PU range. This is an entirely different construction to any of the other NSP surfboards.
It’s the same construction as traditional surfboards. It’s a polyurethane core with polyster resin, compared to EPS core and epoxy resin as used in the other NSP models. The weight is similar, slightly heavier than the Protech construction but the boards are nowhere near as strong.
You can advance your surfing and really perform on NSP Surfboards
So why have a model of boards that’s only as light as an existing model but not as strong?
Note the stringer in the PU Series. This, and different foam and resin gives a different feel to your surfing
The PU boards give you the feel of traditional surfboards. There is a totally different surfing feel between epoxy and PU boards.
Manly Surf Hire has NSP Surfboards and a range of epoxy and PU boards you can try to determine your surfboard preference
This is best described as the feeling of your board being in the wave rather than on the wave. The PU lets you carve in the wave opening up a whole new level of manoeuvres. The difference is noticeable across longboards and shortboards.
With their outstanding durability NSP is a great investment
One key factor about NSP that sets it apart from almost every other brand, is that its board have a high finish and are super durable.
All their models, apart from the PU, do often not show any foot dents despite being surfed hard as hire boards. If reasonably well looked after, most marks will wipe off. In some cases second hand boards look as new. The wax wipes off with no trace of dents.
This means if you want to keep and hold onto your board, it will stay looking and surfing great. Alternatively, if you want to progress and move on with your surfing you can get a great trade. NSP is known as a great brand.
NSP Surfboards – Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Beginner, Intermediate to Advanced, NSP has a great range of boards to take you on your surfing adventure
From Beginner, to Intermediate, to Advanced, NSP has not only the designs but construction to give you a great surf experience. You’ve even got the choice across different surfing styles of longboard and shortboard, epoxy and PU boards, to expand your surfing skill, experience and fun.
Whether you’re happy to just enjoy your surfing, or want to progress to an advanced level, there’s a proven NSP Surfboard model for you.
As a Beginner out to find a surfboard, you’ve got a wide range of Beginner board options. Everything from a softboard to a high performance board is available to you.
Something to consider if you’re a Beginner is that most boards are fragile. A bump can cause a fracture in the fibreglass, dislodge a fin, or put a dent in your deck.
If you want a great Beginner experience while safeguarding your investment, there’s only one board that’s pretty much indestructible. That’s BIC.
A great Beginner board, easy to surf and pretty much indestructible, a BIC Dura-Tec will also give you great performance
While fun and easy to ride, BIC give you a board that will last through everything you can dish up in and out of the surf.
The BIC Brand
BIC, the same company that does other plastic products, is claimed to be the world’s biggest selling surfboard brand. So this indicates they’ve got surfboards that work
The BIC brand is claimed to be the biggest selling surfboard brand in the world. So this gives you an indication that BIC boards work.
This BIC brand is the same that makes a range of other products like pens. Their mastery of extruded plastics has carried through to their surfboards.
While not the first material you’d think a super successful surfboard would be made of, indeed BIC Dura-Tec boards are plastic and work great.
The BIC boards come out of a mould. Their characteristics are consistent and quality assured
The BIC Beginner Dura-Tec boards are made in a mould and mass produced. So the moulds that are used represent surfboard designs that are proven to work and refined to help you surf.
All BIC’s Beginner boards are under 9′ in length. This is an ideal Beginner board size range. Boards this size are easy to carry and transport in or on your car. In the surf they’re also not unwieldy so you can navigate through the waves without being swamped.
Great Surfing Shapes
A snapshot of BIC’s Dura-Tec mini-mal range with boards up to just under 9′ in size. Perfect to learn on and progress
BIC’s Beginner boards are mini-mal shapes with a full nose. As a Beginner your paddling will not be fully developed so this extra area up front in the nose makes for easier paddling. With each stroke you make you get more travel on the water.
Once you get going paddling, the fuller nose gives you momentum keeping you going down the wave face so you get a better chance of a successful take off.
Check the stability and flotation of the design. On flat water, with no wave, the design allows you to get to your feet and stand
The outline of the boards stays wide through the middle. So this gives you stability. As a Beginner you may need to take several moves to get to your feet causing your weight to shift on your board. The extra width means the board will remain stable so assisting you to stand and get going on the wave.
This sequence from a video indicates how well the boards catch waves. Note above on take-off the board nose is trimming out of the water indicating good speed. Check how stable the rider is even partway through their multi-stage stand up. Below, out on the face there’s lots of stability and control
The boards are naturally fast. You don’t need to wiggle or do any special moves. You can see this rider has gone right out on the shoulder, out of the foam, and is now carving back with his foot back towards the pulled in tail
The board is also relatively straight in its outline so you get natural speed. The board naturally cruises along the wave. This helps you get out of the foam and onto the open face and surf. The shape maintains speed without effort. So you don’t have to wiggle or know any fancy moves.
This natural speed makes surfing on your BIC fun.
The tail is pulled in closer to the end of the board. Carrying the board width this far back means that you get maximum stability and speed. As you progress you will be stepping back to put the board into a turn. So the pulled in tail helps you turn more easily.
The Egg model has a wider tail that helps for nose riding
In the range there’s BIC Dura-Tec boards to help you mix it up, to suit personal preference and surfing style.
There’s the Egg model with an extra wide tail. This helps utilise the wave power so you will go faster. If you’re a heavier surfer this gives you great weight distribution so you can still glide even on smaller waves. It’s also good if you want to walk your board up to the nose, the extra width helping the tail hold in without your weight on it.
As a Beginner starting to turn, the Beginner board characteristics are ideal, helpful. Not too constrained or too radical
At the other end of the spectrum there’s the Mini Malibu model with a more pulled in tail. So this will help you carve in the waves, the narrower tail giving bite.
With FCS Fin Control System included in every Beginner board you have access to the world’s best fins to change up the performance to match what you want, more cruising or more carving
Outside of the pure Beginner board range there’s shortboard and fish models. So once you progress BIC’s got great board options for your next-step.
Dura-Tec is an Investment
Gerard Dabbadie, the designer of many of the Dura-Tec boards demonstrates their durability. He is standing on the Dura-Tec board and bouncing on it. Don’t try this with any other board
There are BIC boards made of other materials including softboards with foam decks and epoxy boards more like traditional surfboards. So why Dura-Tec?
It’s pretty much indestructible.
As a Beginner you may not realise just how easily a surfboard is damaged. If you’re not used to the length of the board under your arm it’s easy to bang into something as you carry it around. Once down at the beach there could be a rock in the sand, or an accident with another surfer. Or you could fall on the board or the board fall on you.
Surfing with your buddies or in the crowd it’s easy to accidentally bang your board creating a ding
In anyone of these scenarios a traditional fibreglass board can crack. So once cracked it will start to leak water that will alter its performance and lead to water logging and ongoing problems. It will need to be fixed immediately and the cost is not inconsequential. So the last thing you want to do if you’re going surfing, after purchasing your first board, is to be constantly paying a repair bill. Or be spending time out of the water waiting on a repair to be finished.
Most other surfboard type constructions can ding badly and break putting a quick end to your investment
Even if you’re extra careful and accident free, most boards will dent from the process of you getting to your feet. This quickly ages your board. So your traditional fibreglass board will decrease in value with each dent reducing your chance of a good trade up.
In the worse case, as a Beginner you may not always judge the wave power. So your board could break entirely through no fault of yours. Once your board is broken it may be unrepairable. Your total investment lost.
Check this close up of the deck of the Dura-Tec board. There’s not a trace of a dent after hard core surfing. This means BIC gives you a good chance of a great trade up to your next board as you progress your surfing
The BIC Dura-Tec boards will scratch. However if you drag them on the ground, bang them into a wall, get dumped on the heaviest wave, the board will stay in one piece. Even from the constant pressure of being stood on it will not show the signs of foot dents that appear on just about all other types of surfboards.
Many of the Dura-Tec Beginner board models include additional rubber-like nose and tail bumpers giving great protection.
Softboards vs Dura-Tec
BIC also have softboards in their range. These also are a great Beginner board option but not as durable
BIC has softboards in their range. These are also a great Beginner board option.
Being soft, if you get a bang from your board it won’t cause too much harm, whereas the Dura-Tec is hard. However softboards can be damaged.
At Manly Surf Hire you can try BIC Dura-Tec and BIC softboards as well as a range of other surfboards. To check the Manly Surf Hire range click here
For example if you get run over by another board or hit a rock the soft part of the softboard can rip or be exposed. Even in these types of heavy situations the Dura-Tec will resist damage.
To progress your surfing there’s an extensive range of BIC Dura-Tec boards including Fish and Shortboard models
Outside of the Beginner board range there’s Dura-Tec boards in different styles.
There’s shortboards for modern progressive style surfing.
Also Hybrid boards giving you a good transition option between a mal and shortboard. With hybrids you get a balance between width for paddling and pulled in tail for turning.
Then there’s fun boards. These are shorter boards with more area to maximise wave speed from small waves while still being manoeuvrable.
BIC Ideal Beginner Board
If you’re a Beginner and want a Beginner board that you can surf and not have to worry about the BIC Dura-Tec is a perfect solution.
It’s construction gives you several options. You can surf it hard and know it won’t need repair, just about lasting forever. If you treat it well it will stay looking good protecting your investment and giving you the option of a great trade up to your next board as you progress.
The BIC Dura-Tec will give you as much surfing as you want in a design to help you surf.
BIC is great Beginner board that’ll help you perform too.
Surfing is the most fantastic sport and lifestyle and it’s great to become a surfer. However there’s often a big difference between what you imagine starting surfing to be like, to what it actually is like.
In this second part of our article we check what’s involved, the best gear and approach, for your surfing to progress.
To go to the first part of our Surfing article click here
Step Six – Are You a Longboarder or Shortboarder?
Once you’re competent on your softboard you can decide, do you want to go on the longboard path, above? Or the shortboard path, below?
Once you are competently getting to your feet and surfing on your softboard, the next step is to upgrade your board. Here comes another fork in the road, where you have to make a decision.
How Do You See Yourself Surfing?
Do you see yourself as a longboard surfer cruising on long rolling walls? Or as a shortboard surfer, carving up the wave, smashing sections? There are big differences involved in riding longboards and shortboards. They are two different paths.
A longboard surfs similar to a softboard doing longer drawn out turns. Until you become very proficient on a longboard you are typically going along the wave and turning in longer arcs. The longboard path is less demanding and will yield faster results.
Going on the shortboard path and taking the step of downsizing you are aiming to do short arc and more dynamic turns. The shortboard path is physically demanding. To surf like a Pro, or just to be competent on a shortboard will take a lot of commitment.
How do you see yourself? What style is your surfing? Longboard or shortboard?
Longboard Path – Board Upgrade
Several longboards that will help you rapidly progress after your softboard
On the longboard path your next step is to get a fibreglass longboard. This will be an easy transition from your softboard.
Both your softboard and longboard may be similar in size and volume. The fibreglass longboard though will paddle better and glide better on the waves. So your whole surfing experience will step up a notch without any effort.
Shortboard Path – Board Upgrade
A mini-mal, on the left, might not be seen as a shortboard but it’s what you can use in your transition to a shortboard. The other option is a hybrid board. This is a shorter full volumed board, looking more like a shortboard & giving you more turning ability
Unlike on a longboard where you can take one step from a softboard to a longboard, to transition to a shortboard requires more intermediary steps.
From your softboard you can go to a fibreglass board that is shorter. A mini-mal will give you a gradual transition. This is a board with a similar shape to a longboard, with a full nose, but it’s not as long and doesn’t have as much volume.
If you want a transition board that looks more like a shortboard, then check out a hybrid or fish surfboard.
Hybrid & Fish Boards
Compared to the mini-mal in the image above, a shortboard looking alternative is the hybrid and a fish style board. These boards have a nose that is more similar to a shortboard but it’s still full giving easier paddling and wave catching. They are wider through the middle so you get good flotation and speed. On the hyrbid the narrower tail helps with more turning
Once you are competent on a mini-mal, the shortboard path is to continue to downsize, you can progress to a shorter fibreglass board. This can be a hybrid or fish style board. Both these style boards have a more drawn in nose than a mini-mal, starting to look more like a shortboard.
Surfing on a mini-mal, hyrbid or fish becomes more dynamic than on a longboard. Note the surfer above is riding a shorter board with a full nose
These boards will still give you good paddling and wave catching and be easier to turn than a mini-mal. The reason you don’t go straight to a shortboard like the Pros ride is that these transition boards are still much easier to get around on in the surf and you will still be having fun.
Step Seven – Competency & Approach
If you’re on the longboard path and are competent on your existing longboard, try other longboards
If you’re on the longboard path then there’s not much more you need to do in this step. The more proficient you become the more you can determine your personal style on your longboard.
You may like the old school style where the board is heavy, gets momentum and cruises down the line. Alternatively there’s lightweight designs that give you speed and sensitivity for more precise carves. There’s boards designed for nose riding too so plenty to try and experience.
You can have several longboards in your quiver.
On the shortboard route we stopped at the hybrid and fish. This style board will allow you to do shorter arc turns. This style board still has volume so paddling and wave catching is easier.
However short boarding surfing diverges greatly from longboarding, not just in your board, but your approach in the water, your approach to the wave.
Check where Sebastian Zietz is catching this wave on his shortboard. This is an extreme example but shows that the wave is being caught under the lip. The wave is just about to break. The position is critical. Going down the shorboard path means a whole new approach to wave catching and riding. It’s not just riding a shorter board
Progressing in your shortboard surfing means going to shorter more manoeuvrable shortboards. On these style boards the whole wave catching equation starts to change. It’s not just that the shorter board becomes harder to paddle hence harder to get waves.
Shortboard surfing requires a different approach. It’s about catching the wave on the peak, on the steep part of the wave. Where the wave is pitching.
To do this requires a whole new level of skill.
It needs greater ability to read the wave so you know where the best position to catch the wave is. It needs greater wave catching ability to be able to paddle to the right position, at the right time, to catch the wave.
If you like where you are in your shortboarding, there’s non reason you have to continue on the performance path. You can stick with the hdybrid and fish style boards that will still give you shortboard style performance. These are two models from Greg Clough and Greg Webber, two of the world’s best shapers. Both these boards are super fun and will give you great performance beyond your level of skill
Your physical abilities and surf fitness, your balance, need to be at a high level to make this work. At the same time this shorter shortboard has less length and less volume. It is hard to paddle and inherently unstable so as to aid quick turns.
Going to a shortboard is demanding. So if you continue on the shortboard path you’ll need to start working on this type of more critical surfing approach.
Step Eight – Surf a Lot
Whether on the longboard or shortboard path make sure you surf as much as you can
This stage may sound like the easiest stage but getting into the surf, surfing a lot, can take commitment and planning. It means getting up early, or surfing late. Whether it’s sunny or rainy, whether the waves are good or not so good. Do your best to surf a lot.
If you haven’t already, at this stage whether on the longboard or shortboard, you should upgrade your wetsuit. If you’re surfing a lot, early mornings before sunrise or late afternoons onto dark you need to be comfortable and to perform.
The basic back zip suit can be upgraded to a wetsuit giving you greater comfort for early, late, and a lot of surfs. You also get performance from a more flexible neoprene construction so you can paddle easier and do bigger moves
If you’ve got to Stage Eight then a high quality wetsuit will give you greater performance with lighter more flexible neoprene construction. You also get great comfort and warmth.
Step Nine – Enjoy & Progress
Longboarding is all about enjoying yourself. You should be competent. Let your own style express itself. Try different boards. Surf different breaks
If you’ve chosen the longboard path this can be the ideal stage. You’re surfing, you’ve got good longboards. Surfing can all be about letting your personal style, your personal expression come through.
Longboard Mix It Up
Don’t let your surfing stagnate. Even if you’re happy how you’re surfing, and especially if you’re not, try more boards.
Performance longboards, above, may look like other longboards but their construction and design are high performance. These shapes are by master longboard shaper Steve O’Donnell, below
For a longboarder, there’s advanced longboards. These look like other longboards. However they’re constructed with lighter foam and lighter fibreglass. They have volume distribution and a bottom curve that makes them super responsive. It’s worthwhile if you’ve gone the longboard path to try a performance longboard.
Shortboard Stick With It
If you’ve chosen the shortboard path, it’s time to find a good shortboard design and stick with it. Don’t go changing things too much. Even though fins are changeable you want to keep the way your board feels consistent so aiding your progression.
Build up your confidence and competence so you can surf without having to think about where you are and what you’re doing. Work on your critical approach to the waves.
Refine your shortboard. Work with one board model with only slight changes. For example reducing volume to determine what works best for you. Reductions in volume will increase sensitivity, increasing your performance
For a shortboarder this step involves refining your shortboard. Try to find and work with a shaper. This is someone who should hopefully be able to see you surf. Or at a minimum understand how you surf.
Find yourself a shaper. Someone you can talk to who will understand your level of surfing and can shape you an ongoing evolution of boards to help you progress. Above is Greg Webber, one of the greatest shapers holding a piece of foam he’s crafted into a magic board
The shaper can then shape boards specifically for you on a consistent theme. Not just a board, but boards. As you progress you will get boards that are magic, that you perform great on. Others boards may not be so good. So make sure you hang on to boards that work for you.
If you’re a longboarder or shortboarder, at this stage you should be surfing everyday or as much as you can. Surfing everyday means learning to mast whatever the waves and the ocean are doing. You’ll learn to surf small and big waves, smooth and sloppy waves. You’ll be a real surfer.
Enjoy your surfing.
Step Ten – To Compete?
Have you thought of surfing competitively? There’s plenty of competitions for longboarders and shortboarders. Competition, individually or as a team brings out a lot of great characteristics in your surfing. Competitive surfing can be organised at your local beach or as the pic below indicates with Surfing Australia
At this stage, longboarder or shortboarder, you can decide if you want to match your skill among other surfers.
This could be joining your local boardriders club and competing in organised competitions trying to out-surf your peeps. Most boardriders clubs have age groups and skill divisions catering for all surfers. There’s also clubs for longboarders and shortboarders.
Be aware, competing brings a whole new vibe to your surfing.
There’s pressures in competitive surfing
If you go too hard into competition, on one side it can change your enjoyment of riding waves. Part of competition is to be able to repeat manoeuvres whenever required. So when you’re surfing you’re constantly thinking how you could have done a manoeuvre better. If the waves don’t allow you to practice and perform, because they’re too small or sloppy, this can lead to surfing frustration.
Competitive surfing can be extremely frustrating in itself as luck seems to play a big part. In a set timeframe you may just not get the waves you need to demonstrate your skill and so not get a result, after putting in no matter how many hours of practice.
Surfing competitively helps your free surfing. When a perfect wave comes you know how to handle it, how to perform the best on it. How not to waste it
On the positive side, competition teaches you to value a wave. If you think about it, how often do you see a perfect, or close to perfect wave? So competition teaches you to do your best with it.
There’s lots of great competition drills, practice routines, that help you get more out of your surfing. One great competition guide is not to paddle for a wave you don’t want or can’t catch. How often have you half-paddled for a wave only to turn around and miss an even better one that was coming behind?
If a wave’s closing out, there’s still manoeuvres you can perform to utilise the most of the wave
Competition also opens you up to understand all the different manoeuvres and how they fit together in riding a wave. For example if a wave is closing out in front of you, you can do a floater to go over it, a bottom turn to go around it, or smack it, instead of just falling off.
World Champion John John Florence. A World Champion gets started somewhere
If you do well in your local competitions there’s a whole world of surfing out there, including the World Qualifying Series and World Surf League. Who knows you could become the next World Champion.
They all started somewhere!
Whether on a longboard or shortboard, there’s nothing like surfing
When you think of starting to surf, you may have an image in mind. There’s sun, fun and excitement.
Your board is a high tech rocketship or maybe a styling cruiser. You see yourself mastering a wave, leaving your mark across a rolling wall of blue.
In your mind’s eye, before you know it you’re a surfer, cruising all the way to the beach and ready to go again.
Above, is this how you picture yourself starting to surf, leaving your mark on a wall of blue? Or below, stylishly cruising?
This mental image is purposefully abstract. It leaves out a lot of things.
For example getting out through the waves. If you’ve never surfed you might not even think about what’s involved getting out through the surf or the skill involved in actually catching an unbroken wave.
So let’s check what’s involved, the best gear and approach, for you to be having fun going surfing.
This article is the first in a two part Surfing series. To go to the second Surfing article click here
Step By Step Approach
Having the right approach to surfing is essential. For example in many things in life you can succeed through perseverance. However, no amount of perseverance will give you success if you try to start to surf in waves like these above
Many aspects of surfing involve having the right approach. One of the best overall approaches to have is an incremental approach, taking on surfing step by step. If each step you take is small, just one tenth of the way towards your goal, then it will only take 10 small steps to get there.
In this way you are much more likely to have fun as you surf. Rather than taking on, all at once, what can often be an overpowering ocean.
Step One – Find Your Spot
Manly Beach provides easy access. There’s no need to scale cliffs or cross reefs. There’s just an easy walk across golden sand to fun waves. Note the lifeguard signage and rescue board indicating help is close at hand, if needed
You want to ride a wave. That means going to a location where there’s waves.
Choose a location where the ocean is easily accessible, so you don’t have to walk down any cliffs or over reef. You want your bare feet to go from soft sand to blue water without any obstacles. You also don’t want any obstacles, like rocks, in the water.
Choose a place where the waves are small and easy. Think about a spot like Waikiki, Hawaii. This is a world renown surf spot not because it has the best waves in the world but because the waves are smaller, easy, accessible and fun.
A wave up to waist high is perfect for you to start surfing
You don’t have to go to Waikiki but here is where you may have to start adjusting your mental image.
The best wave to start surfing on is not a big wave. Not a big wall of blue. No amount of perseverance will see you master that type of wave in your first surfs. The best way to start surfing is on a small wave, a wave no bigger than your waist. There’s plenty of spots where there’s waves like that in our local area.
Keep in mind that the ocean along with tides, change. Where the surf is too big today could be perfect tomorrow or at another locale.
Step One for each surf is to find your right location, without obstacles, with waist high waves.
In your early stages of surfing make sure help is close at hand, if needed
A secluded location may have a lot of appeal offering uncrowded waves all to your self. However, having been around Beginner surfers it’s common that the unexpected happens. The board flips and causes a bang. There could be a break or a cut needing attention.
The ocean and surfing is unpredictable. So make sure at your chosen surf location help is at hand, hopefully never needed.
Step Two – Choose Your Board
You’re at the ocean ready to go. There’s no obstacles. The waves are waist high. What’s next? The surfer above has the right idea in terms of the ideal surfboard
Okay, you are at the ocean. There’s golden sand and waist high waves. What will you ride?
If you’ve seen the Pros or competent surfers you know they ride either small pointy rocket ship looking shortboards, or big styling longboards.
So here’s where another adjustment of your mental image of starting to surf is needed.
Typical high tech boards ridden by Pro and competent surfers. Pulled in nose, curved outline, minimal thickness and advanced bottom curve make this style of board unsuitable for starting to surf
It may be possible to learn to surf on almost any surfboard, but there’s a definite board type that will maximise your fun and speed your progress. Maximising your fun means increasing your chance of immediately riding a wave while reducing your risk of a bad experience.
This is a softboard. It doesn’t look like the pointy nose, high tech boards ridden by the Pros. The best size softboard to learn on is a long length, high volume size. This means it’ll float you and catch waves easily. The deck, and sides called rails, are soft. This softboard greatly increases your fun factor while reducing the risk of a bad experience from a hard bang. To check details of this board click here
So the best board to maximise your fun is a long softboard. This looks nothing like what most Pros ride and it looks much less performance oriented than most longboards. However this type of board, from a reputable brand, has been purpose made to help you quickly start to surf.
The long softboard has lots of volume, this means there’s a lot of it. So it will float you well. Its width and length give stability, making it easier to get to your feet. You may need to make several moves to get up. For example you might get up on your elbows, then to your knees, then push up to your feet. Your board length helps with these moves as when you move your weight the longboard won’t react too much. It will stay stable, helping you get to and stay on your feet.
We can help you with exactly the right board to match your size and body type.
The surf can be unpredictable and your body movements can also bring on unpredictable results on the wave. So the softboard is soft. If you fall on it, or it falls on you or bumps into you, the risk of harm is greatly reduced.
Step Three – Why Paddle When You Can Walk
Most people new to surfing underestimate the difficulty in trying to paddle and get out through breaking waves. There is a better way to progress
You’re at a nice beach where there’s waist high waves. It’s easiest to just paddle out and catch them, right?
To get to, and catch waves, you want to minimise your paddling.
Why? Paddling is something you’ve never done before. It doesn’t look that hard to do, laying on your board and swinging your arms. To do it well though requires strength in certain muscle groups and a special technique. These are things you don’t have for your first surf.
To catch your first waves you don’t have to go out farther than where you can stand. In front of these two surfers you can see the sand through the water indicating how shallow it is. Check here for a great guide on starting to surf
So to get that first wave, to have fun first surfs, look for a spot on the beach where the waist high waves are breaking in shallower water. The idea is that the more you can walk out to a wave, the less paddling you have to do, the easier it will be to catch the waves.
You don’t even have to paddle to catch a wave. If you can stand in waste deep water, you can turn your softboard toward shore, and then push yourself on to the wave as it comes. Catch it then stand and ride it.
Depending on the tide you may not be able to stand as the water may be too deep. So you may have to paddle. So paddle to a spot that’s not too far from shore. Turn your board around and wait for the wave. When the wave comes start to paddle.
Your softboard, if from a reputable brand, can catch a wave with minimal effort or even without paddling. When your board catches the wave let that initial bumpiness subside and as you feel the board cruising get to your feet.
At Manly Beach in the south end, and at Freshwater beach in the north end, are normally where you’ll find these ideal shallow easy to surf conditions.
Step Four – What to Wear
To learn to surf you can wear any suitable attire. However in most surf schools, as here at Manly Surf School, all students are fitted with a full steamer wetsuit. This makes the process much more comfortable
You can start your surfing in any water temperature. However at different times of the year the water temperature can range from warm to cool and cold.
Warm water is great as it means you don’t need any additional wetsuit to keep you warm. It’s true wetsuits do weigh you down making it marginally harder to start surfing. So feeling free could be an advantage.
If you’re not using a wetsuit and the water is warm, normally the sun will be warm too. So make sure you protect your skin from the sun.
Even if the water is warm it’s still common when starting surfing to use a wetsuit as it provides a mix of protection and comfort.
The suit coverage gives you protection from the sun. Only your face and hands are really exposed.
The suit padding gives you comfort. When you’re lying on your board the wetsuit padding gives a soft layer that you’re lying on. You get the same comfort for your legs when sitting on your board. If the board comes your way and you get a bump this padding from your wetsuit helps soften it.
Your first wetsuit can be inexpensive or as expensive as you like. The choice is yours. At this stage it doesn’t have to be expensive. The suits shown above all come with a back zip and pack lots of features into a low price. Note the surfer on the left with the longboard is a multi Australian Longboard Champion, Jason Livingstone, happy in his Adrenalin Wetsuit
So even if the water’s warm, and certainly if it’s cool or cold, it’s good to get a wetuit. The most common wetsuit is the steamer. This has a high neck with long legs and long arms. There’s all fancy models, but the simplest to get on and off, to get started with, is a back zip steamer.
Step Five – Where to Get Your Gear
You have different options on how to get started with your surfing in terms of getting a board and wetsuit. Do you borrow? Use the gear at a surf school? Buy or hire?
Step Five is our first fork in the road. Where you have to make a decision.
You’ve got your location ready to go where you can catch waves safely. You know you need a softboard and wetsuit.
Where will you get them?
You could borrow them if you know another surfer.
This is not such a good idea.
If the board specification isn’t ideal, if it’s not as big and long as it could be, you won’t have the optimal chance to start to surf. The same with the wetsuit, if the fit’s not right it won’t work properly, reducing your comfort and fun. It might even rash you, or rip.
Having the wrong gear could mar your first surfing experience because you aren’t getting the best gear and support to start your surfing. If you damage the gear it could mar your friendship too.
A surf school, in this case Manly Surf School, is a great place to try your first surf. Your board, wetsuit and guidance are all provided
You could go to a surf school. This is a great idea.
At the surf school you get your softboard and wetsuit provided, and guidance too. But lessons only last so long, and most progress is normally made outside of the lesson.
Lessons also have a cost which can quickly mount up.
There’s plenty of surfboards and wetsuits available if you want to get your own. It’s important to get the best gear ideally suited to you
You have the option to buy your gear. This has good and bad points.
The good is that if you buy your gear you can make sure at the shop you get the best fitting wetsuit and exactly the right softboard. So your gear is optimised for your success.
Also you’ll have your gear on hand to go surfing whenever you want. This can be early morning or late afternoon, anytime. You don’t have to limit your surfing to surf-school hours or when you can borrow your gear.
If you get the right gear, your wetsuit can be used beyond your beginning stage. Your softboard too, if a good brand it can easily be upgraded as you progress. At our shop you can easily trade to your next more advanced surfboard as you progress.
The bad about buying is that it’s a sign of real commitment. It may not be warranted or practical so early in your surfing. You may not know if you like surfing. You may be on holidays or only near the surf for a short time. So you don’t necessarily need to make that big purchase commitment.
This is a very cost effective way to get started at around one twentieth of the cost of buying your gear and less expensive than surf school.
Manly Surf Hire can make sure you have the right board to match your experience. Wetsuits are also available for every size and body shape. Manly Surf Hire is aligned with our shop so there’s the potential to put a part of your hire cost towards your new gear when you decide to purchase.
With the choices you have above, the main thing is don’t blow your first time surfing by getting the wrong or sub-optimal gear.
Surfing Part 2
To continue your progress in starting to surf, to continue to the second part of our article, click here
A mid season wetsuit is all about giving you more time in the surf, and maximising your performance when you do surf. In mid-range temperature water you could use your bulky winter steamer or chill in boardshorts. Some surfers do.
A mid season wetsuit is the better option to keep you surfing optimally. You get warmth and flexibility, comfort and lighter weight performance. You’ll be surfing your best in the mid season chilly mornings and blustery late afternoons.
ION Team Rider Koby Perkovich power carves on a bumpy windblown wave face. You need to be warm and limber to let loose this kind of body torque
Having multiple wetsuits may not be for everyone. If you surf everyday, if you want to get the first and the last of the day’s waves, and surf your best in them, then you know the value of having the right setup. If you have surfboards to match wave conditions- a fish or grovellor for smaller waves; a daily driver; then stepup; similarly, it makes sense to have wetsuits to match your surfing environment too.
A mid season suit gives you the edge over the environment, getting you out there, getting waves, performing optimally.
Spring suits have short legs with either short arms or long arms. They come in back zip, front zip and zipless options. They include all the features you get in other wetsuits including flatlock, GBS and taped sealed seams
A mid season suit can be a spring suit or short sleeve steamer. A spring suit comes with either short legs and either short or long arms. The other mid season wetsuit, a short sleeve steamer, comes with long legs and short arms.
Apart from the suit shape, the thickness of the neoprene is what sets a mid season suit apart from your winter steamer. The neoprene used would be 2mm or a 2mm-1mm combination. compared to 3-2mm or 4-3mm in your winter suit.
Short sleeve, or short arm, steamers are not just a winter steamer with the arms cut off. They have their own streamlined feel. A lower centre of gravity adds to your surfing performance
It may be that there’s a manufacturing sweet-spot involved but 2mm suits typically have amazing neoprene. The neoprene seems much higher quality. You get flex, warmth, more resilience when compared to your winter steamer. A mid season suit is not just a downsized steamer. They definitely have their own character and features adding to your mid season surfing.
Whether your carving or chilling, a mid season suit is a great option. C-Skins’ Womens offerings
Spring suits come in two formats, long sleeve and short sleeve. The choice between them comes down to personal preference. It’s worth giving both a try.
The long sleeve spring suit gives you that little extra comfort. Your upper body has complete coverage from the elements. This coverage protects your from cool water chill, blustery wind chill, and scorching sun.
Womens spring suits can come in a variety of shapes. Cap sleeve, bikini bottom, long sleeve. Long sleeve provides a definite advantage if UV exposure is a concern. ION’s Womens offerings
If you’re concerned about UV the long arms are a definite deciding factor. In all other features the long sleeve spring suit will be the same as its short sleeve counterpart.
The short sleeve spring suit gives you a feeling of freedom. If you’re surfing more during the day, and don’t mind the UV, then you won’t need the warmth provided by longer arms. The shorter sleeves definitely add to ease of paddling. The feeling of freedom flows through to your ability to get waves and do bigger moves.
Compared to boardshorts, with a spring suit your lower body, espcially lower back and groin, feel protected and supported. The additional warmth also acts as a safeguard against strain or injury.
Short Sleeve Steamer
On the winner’s dias. Wade Carmichael second place at J-Bay 2018. Note his short sleeves. Having been surfing in his winter steamer for most heats he switched to the his short sleeve steamer for the Final to get a performance boost. His winning suits courtesy of C-Skins
The short sleeve steamer is not just a winter steamer with short arms. There’s a very different feel to the short sleeve steamer, differing from that of a spring suit too.
In a short sleeved steamer you feel streamlined. Your lower body is fully covered. So you get warmth and comfort. You feel supported and more able to go with big torso twisting power moves. Your arms though are free to power your paddling, power your body torque.
With the neoprene extending over your lower body your centre of gravity is lowered. You feel more stable, sure footed on your board.
The short sleeve steamer is often used by Pro surfers when they want extra performance in a colder environment. When they’ve been wearing their heavier winter steamer the change to their short sleeve lighter weight suit gives a performance boost.
Mid season wetsuits have a full feature lineup. Everything you’ll find in your latest winter suit is repurposed to give you optimum performance in milder environmental conditions. This array of features is what you get from C-Skins
A rich set of features are on offer in your mid season suit.
Adrenalin’s range of mid season suits offer great value and variety in terms of suit cut, fit and function. Check the first two suits and the different ways they handle shoulder treatment. The second suit offers a super flexible bicep to bicep panel. The third suit is the Adrenalin zipless. The womens suit shows the use of the flex side panel to give great fit
Different brands and different models within a range can differ in the cut of the suit. Around the shoulders are where some of the most pronounced differences can be seen. Some have an off the shoulder cut where the seam runs close to the edge of your shoulder. A raglan cut that goes from your neck across to your bicep provides additional stretch as there’s no seam to pull against. An extension of the raglan sleeve extends the whole upper body piece from bicep to bicep providing great flexibility, aiding paddling.
Zipless suits, as with winter steamers, provide additional flexibility as there’s no plastic zip to pull against. However zipless spring suits can seem to lack form so check how each brand implements this feature. Suits can also have flex panels on the sides to aid lower back and lower body fit.
Stitching and Sealing
On the left, flatlock stitching looks like it gives a great seal. While being robust and durable, it actually leaks water. In the middle a GBS seam has stitching that doesn’t penetrate all the way through the neoprene. On the end you can see the other side of a GBS seam. It’s smooth. There’s no stitching showing, the seam held together with glue
On lower end mid season suits you get the option of flatlock stitching. This stitching is robust and durable. The drawback is, though it looks like it gives a definite sealing of the seam, it actually leaks water. If you’re surfing in warmer water this is not so much of a problem. The stitching also can rash or chafe. The trade off is that flatlock mid season wetsuits tend to be good value.
The next step up in features is seam sealing. This comes in the form of GBS, Glued Blind Seams.
Tape adds to the warmth of your suit. This may be overkill in mid season temperatures. However the tape also adds to your suit’s durability and longevity
These seams are identifiable by their smooth finish on one side. Because there’s no stitching against your skin the GBS suit will give you extra comfort. Keeping water out means your body will be warmer, less likely to overstretch and sprain.
Some or most of the GBS seams may be taped. This additionally limits water entry. In areas around the crutch this tape also adds to the strength of the thinner 2mm neoprene increasing your suit’s durability and longevity. Sealing is worthwhile as if the environment warrants wearing a suit you want it to work at its best.
A mid season suits gives freedom of movement over your winter wetsuit, instantly responsive to what you want to do
A sealed mid season suit can be very versatile. They’re great for early pre-sunrise surfs in mid season and summer. They can even be used in winter on warmer days when the sun is adding warmth.
In a sealed mid season suit in the sun you may overheat. If this is the case, just take it off.
The quality of neoprene varies between the lower and high end suits.
To give value, flatlock suits may use a lower flex, warmer neoprene on the body with high flex panels on the upper body. This gives you good paddling with only a marginal reduction in body flexibility. This mix and matching of neoprene increases the value proposition of the suit.
Flex neoprene is used throughout on the performance oriented mid season suits. Flex neoprene gives maximum freedom of movement for paddling and for big moves. These suits tend to offer better fit as the neoprene is more supple fitting to your body contours.
If you’re finding a less expensive suit doesn’t fit quite right then an identical size suit with higher quality neoprene will likely be the best option.
Mid season suits can incorporate plush linings. These are similar to their winter wetsuit counterparts though not as heavy weight
As you look at the models in the mid season wetsuit range you can see that the higher end models start to include fleece. These plush linings add to your comfort and the warmth of your suit. They’re not essential though and if the suit is sealed, the standard normal neoprene finish works great.
Mid season suits can incorporate smooth finishes on the front and back chest panels. This is a great option if you’re surfing in blustery sea breeze conditions
If you’re surfing when it’s windy, typically in the afternoons when the sea breeze rises, then a smoothie finish is worth considering. This smooth finish prevents the chest area of your suit from taking on water. So when the wind’s blowing your core body area has wind chill reduced.
Mid Season Wetsuit
If you want to maximise both your time in the surf and your performance during that time, a mid season suit is what you need. In the same way you’ve got boards for different conditions, it makes sense to have the right wetsuits to keep you surfing your best through all environment conditions too.
A winter wetsuit is one of your most important winter accessories. It’s the key piece of equipment so you can brave the cold and keep surfing. There’s key criteria your wetsuit must have. What are they? Can you prioritise them? How do you know if you’re getting good value?
Let’s look at the characteristics to help you get into the best winter wetsuit.
Inside and out. Fleecy internals – High tech body-heat reflective panels – Super flex – Wind resistance. A winter wetsuit holds the promise of warmth and great surfing
There’s wetsuits ranging from light vest tops to short-sleeve long-leg steamers. These can be used at other times of the year. Such as early summer mornings or late arvo surfs, blowy windy days, or going into mid-season.
Can you prioritise your wetsuit’s features? What is most important to you where you surf? There’s no doubt you may have different priorities surfing an uncrowded remote locale, above. Compared to city madness where you need to paddle as fast as you can just to get a wave, below
When it’s cold, the air and water temperature dropping, you need a winter steamer. This is a long-arm, long-leg wetsuit. The purpose of a steamer is to get you surfing warmly when it’s cold. If it’s not cold one of the other wetsuit types can suffice. In winter you want to be able to surf when you want, when the waves are good, regardless of how cold conditions may be.
Winter magic. If you’ve got up early to get a session like this you want to surf your best. So what if you have warmth without flexibility? Flexibility without warmth? How well will you surf if either of these are lacking?
There’s key features that make up a wetsuit. It may seem possible to prioritise these.
You could say warmth is most important. However if you’re warm but can’t paddle or get to your feet because your wetsuit is too heavy or stiff, your surfing won’t be much fun. Alternatively if you can paddle fast and are super flexible, but are freezing, your discomfort will ruin your surfing.
So you want a wetsuit that all-round works.
Trade-offs do take place though. When surfing competitively some surfers trade warmth to get flexibility. They may have a lighter or different type suit they use in their competition heat. It’s only minutes they’re spending in the water. In this way they’re trading warmth for flexibility.
Surfing competitively Professionals do trade warmth for flexibility for their heats. On the left here’s Wade Carmichael. Note his C-Skins Short sleeve steamer. His strategy to wear this more flexible suit in the final paid off. 2nd Place at J-Bay, 2018. Below, Wade in his C-Skins full steamer
Getting a balance of features is most important in your winter wetsuit. Once you’ve got the features closely balanced you can make the end decision to prioritise one. For example you may have only limited time in the mornings so only need to stay warm for a short period. If you’re paddling a lot, a flexier less-warm wetsuit may be okay. But, if you know in advance you’re going to be not-warm, perhaps cool, will you even want to get out for that early?
So what are the key features of the best winter wetsuit?
The Big 4
Fit. Warmth. Flexibility. Finish. The four key features that make up your wetsuit. Ideally you want these all at their optimum, all working for you
Fit. Warmth. Flexibility. Finish.
These key features need explanation. It may seem obvious that a thicker wetsuit will give you better insulation, better warmth. However with technology changing rapidly this is not the case. Warm high tech linings can make a thinner suit as warm as a thick one.
It’s also not just the technology. As with all things surfing, you need the right approach.
The size chart on the left gives an indication of the wide range of sizes and mid-sizes available from some brands, in this case C-Skins. However new fitting techniques such as Future Fit used by C-Skins use computer modelling to go beyond basic numbers to closely match your body shape
The first thing to approach is fit. Your suit has to fit you and fit you well. The way a wetsuit works is to allow a thin layer of water, between your body and your suit, to be warmed. With the right fit this warm water will stay with you through paddling out, duck dives and riding waves. This mechanism can keep you warm for the duration of your surf. If water is constantly moving through your suit, due to a loose poor fit, that moving water will take your body heat away.
So when you’re trying your suit on in the shop it should be very snug, tight. Having a little struggle getting it on isn’t bad. If you’re hot in the suit in the shop this is normally a good sign you’ll be warm in the water. Once in cold winter water your body will shrink a little so your suit will loosen up.
If your suit is too big you’ll have water flushing in and out, greatly reducing your warmth if you get warm at all. If it’s loose you’ll also have chaffing and rashing. Alternatively if your suit is too small you won’t be able to get into it. So it’s about getting your fit right, perfect if possible.
Wetsuits come in incremental sizes. So some brands will have a size Medium, then a Medium Small and a Medium Tall. They often have this for all the main sizes from Small to Large. There’s a size for stocky, thick in the middle, and tall skinny body shapes. So there’s no reason to not get your size and fit right. If it’s not in the shop it can be ordered in for you.
Try It On
It’s important to try your suit on to determine best fit. Why? There’s important measurements that reflect the cut of your suit that aren’t covered in size charts. Measurements like crotch-to-neck make a big difference to the warmth of vital areas like your lower back. You can only find this fit by trying the suit on
It’s important to try the suit on as different brands also have different cuts with fit implications. For example C-Skins and Quiksilver are longer in the body than say Rip Curl and ION. What this means is while the C-Skins will fit snug into your lower back, a Rip Curl might stretch across it. This may not sound like a big issue but this gap created at your lower back will quickly chill.
With the fit around your neck, most suits have a super flexi panel so they’ll all fit fine. Some suits have a smooth glide skin making your neck even more comfortable. With your arm and leg fit it’s in fact better if your suit is a little long as at your wrists you can really feel the cold. If your suit fits your body great but is long in the arms or legs you can always fold the extra length under. Or try a mid size like a MS or LS, Medium Short or Large Short.
If you’re wanting the best winter wetsuit getting fit right is the first place to start.
Warmth & Flex
Latest tech, with body heat panels, gives you warmth normally associated with thicker neoprene in a thinner performance oriented suit
It used to be said that a thicker wetsuit would be warmer. This is still true in the same model, so a 4-3mm thick Hot_Wired will be warmer than a 3-2mm Hot_Wired. Comparing across suit brands though is not so straight forward.
There are different quality and technology neoprene and linings used. So you can’t just rely on the numbers like 3-2mm, 4-3mm. Let’s look at the neoprene.
An air infusion gives insulation and makes your suit thicker. In addition C-Skins go a big step beyond incorporating special linings in their suits to reflect the cold out and the warmth in
Neoprene, referred to sometimes as ‘rubber’ is a type of foam infused with air bubbles. It’s waterproof and provides insulation. This makes up the material of your suit. High quality neoprene gives a number of benefits including warmth, flexibility, durability and low weight. The quality of the neoprene is what often determines the cost of your suit.
Air bubbles can increase the insulation and thickness of your suit without increasing weight. So you can have a thicker suit that is warmer, without extra weight. C-Skins point out that they measure their neoprene thickness to not include the lining of their suits. So in appearance the C-Skins 2-2mm looks like a 3-2mm of another brand though it’s lighter and flexier while giving great warmth.
The quality of the neoprene is important too. If high quality it will be supple and sculpt to your body aiding your fit adding to your warmth.
You can normally feel the quality of neoprene for yourself. It will be spongie, when you squeeze it between your fingers. It will stretch and be resilient. For example it should stretch to at least double length, then recoil, instantly. If you’ve got different brands side by side you can normally easily discern difference in the quality of the neoprene.
With a brand name suit one thing you should be getting is quality neoprene.
Various types of plush linings are designed to capture body heat
Many wetsuits today talk about their linings. There’s a lot of hype and imagery around quick dry and body-heat panels. The internal panels often using colours to convey heat and warmth. These new tech lining can be fleeced or fine ridged panels. They’re plush and they do add to the warmth and comfort of your suit. They add warmth as they provide an area where the trapped water can rapidly be heated by your body heat.
The bushiness or fleeciness of the lining does not necessarily equate to extra warmth. In fact a low pile like a corduroy has proven to work great while some thicker linings aren’t as effective as no lining. Quick dry linings may not equate to warmth. You need water in your suit to warm. If it quick dries while you’re surfing you’re left with just the external cold water pressing against your neoprene against your skin. This becomes uncomfortable quickly.
Reputable brands tend to have linings that work. But even so be aware of the ‘latest thing’. Having no lining, just the neoprene without any fleece as on a value suit, can still work great. Tried and proven technologies tend to give the best result.
Throwing big moves. Your wetsuit should be a help, itself being flexible, keeping you warm and flexible, and able to perform
Your movement in the suit is vital. If you are warm but find it exhausting to move your arms and paddle you won’t be able to catch waves. Similarly if you’re feeling so bulky that you can’t get your legs under you or bend your back or knees, you won’t be able to surf.
The flexibility and stretch of your suit directly affects your surfing performance.
The quality of the neoprene plays a big factor. So feel and compare the neoprene between suits. As mentioned above quality neoprene gives more flex. Flex also equates to ease of paddling so directly impacts wave catching. It also gives you freedom of movement so you can do big moves when surfing.
To provide value, lower range suits will give you less flex neoprene in the body of your suit while the underarms or entire arms and shoulders may be super flex. This mix and match works well if you’re on a budget. You get warmth in your main and lower body and performance flex in your arms and upper body.
Zip-status and the stitching and cut of your suit panels are also important to consider.
Zip or No Zip
Back zip, on the left, is the go-to option for surfers who can’t get their shoulders into other suits. The Back Zip also seems to be the catch-all for other fit problems, like being solid in the middle. Next, the Front Zip, if done well gives great flex and ease of entry and exit. Zipless, on the right, is said to be the best of all suits for performance as there’s no zip at all to inhibit paddling or flex for big moves
Wetsuits come in three zip configurations. Back zip, front zip and zipless. Zip status impacts your flexibility, hence performance. In the past zips used to let in water but the latest suits not only have close sealed zipper teeth, they also have barriers behind the zip limiting water entry.
Zipperless suits give great freedom of movement, possibly the best. This is because there’s only neoprene and stitching in your suit. There’s no hard inflexible plastic zip anywhere to impede paddling or surfing moves.
A chest zip can be almost as good depending on the way the zip is implemented. If it’s lean it can be unnoticeable. If it’s bulky or poorly integrated each paddle stroke can feel like you’re pulling against it.
A back zip is considered least performance oriented for your surfing. This is because there’s a long trip of plastic running down your back. When you go into a surfing manvoeuvre where you crouch, bend or extend you can feel the zip limiting that movement. Also with some back zips you can feel constraint in your paddling, the zip limiting the flex and stroke movement between your back shoulders.
Extra Protection – Neck & Chest
A great feature offering extra protection from the cold is the special Iris neck underneath the neck of C-Skins front zip and zipless suits. It provides a great fit for any neck size and creates an area of noticeable additional comfort and warmth
The way the under-zip area is implemented can aid your overall suit performance for front zip and zipless suits. When you’re down on your board paddling your neck and upper chest area is faced with a constant flow of cold water. The second layer closest around your neck, if implemented well, can provide an additional barrier against water entry and can greatly increase your overall comfort and warmth.
This is one of the features to check in store. When the suit is on, without the outer neck flap over your head, does the cut below your neck sit low? If yes this can create problems when paddling out and duck diving.
Extra Protection – Back Zip
A batwing is a feature of back zip suits. It’s a fine 1-2mm panel that stretches behind your zip. In the image on the right it’s the blue panel. It stretches enough so you can step into your suit. Then when zipped, it provides a barrier behind your zip. Water still enters through the zip but it doesn’t get through to your body
Some surfers find the zipperless and chest zip suits difficult to enter and exit. Especially getting the suit up over their shoulders. So traditional back zip suits give a great alternative. The back zip isn’t that flexible as you have plastic running down your back in the place of soft neoprene. The zip can also let in water. Most high end back zip suits include a batwing, a flap that effectively stretches and seals across the zip opening. This does add bulk. However if you can’t get into another style suit a back zip with a batwing is still a worthy option.
This is a view of a suit back showing that the stitching is not horizontal. Note it curves down into the middle back. This curve, ION call a Sweep_Cut, provides additional fit and flex. The curved stitching stretches out with each arm movement aiding paddling
Knee treatments, at both the back and front of the knee are specially designed to aid flexibility
The cut of the panels, directly related to stitching, also plays a part in flexibility. Having less panels, and keeping them long, aids flex and your performance. This is because stitching, that comes from more panel pieces, stretches less than the neoprene. So less panels equals less stitching that equates to more flex and greater performance.
The cut though was originally important, having more panels equated to better fit. So you would have a panel to go into your lower back, one under your arm, another over the top of your shoulder. Now with the latest tech like Future Fit the suit forms to your body. This allows panels and stitching to be reduced.
So in terms of maximising flex a suit that has less stitching and utilises a fit-technology is the best way to go.
Another new feature is sanitizing. This is a treatment that prevents the appearance of unwanted odours
The Seal_Tite finish, here shown around the neck, is also used on internal wrists and ankles, This liquid seam material is added to prevent those areas riding up and inhibits water entry
The smoothie finish over the abdomen and lower chest. C-Skins’ implementation is a fine mesh that protects against wind chill while being durable
There’s two main finishes in wetsuits. One is called smoothie. The other is just normal. A normal suit has the same neoprene finish, a nylon layer, over the exterior of the suit. A smoothie suit has parts of the wetsuit, mainly front and back chest, finished smooth. This smoothie area is meant to reduce the affect of wind and wind chill. Smooth finished it doesn’t take on any water so it doesn’t get water logged. When the wind blows there’s no extra evaporation creating a chill.
Liquid seams provide additional external seam sealing. They do add warmth but also reduce the stretch of the neoprene
Another type of smooth finish is for seams. Rather than use an external tape, similar to that used internally, a liquid seam is used. This further seals GBS seams greatly limiting water entry. A trade off is that the liquid seam does not offer as much flex as neoprene so it does reduce performance. This isn’t noticeable in your lower body where the liquid seam is most used. In the upper body it can limit performance. So liquid seams tend to be used less in the upper body of performance suits.
It All Comes Together
It’s only by trying on a suit, several suits, that you will get an idea of how it all comes together, how you’ll feel on the water before the sunrises
If you try on an ION suit you will feel how supple the neoprene is. It glides on and fits you like a second skin. You get great flexibility, hence performance. As you move your arms you can feel the ION paddling flexibility. Bending down going through the surfing motions there’s no constraint. It’s got a great high tech lining. In the high end suits you get GBS, taping and liquid seams. So water entry is minimal.
With C-Skins the suit is more substantial. It’s like you’ve got protection. When the air is crackling pre-dawn, your body is warm, snug. Once in the water you are even warmer as the trapped water layer heats up. You may feel a little heavier but you can happily wait for waves, wait for the best wave.
For fit, ION has quality form fitting neoprene with a short cut in the body. C-Skins use Bio Fit so give you a great all-round fit.
So if you want to trade for performance, the ION may be your choice giving you easier paddling. If you want to trade for warmth, C-Skins may be your choice. Both suits have great team riders demonstrating every surfing move. So both work great.
Multi Australian Longboard Champion Jason Livingstone, on the left, wears Adrenalin. Highlight colours help identify the super flex neoprene panels. Primarily on the arms, shoulders and side panels. The other panels give less flex and more warmth. Adrenalin suits are great value
Alternatively there’s Adrenalin. Their suits tick all the boxes with features. They are also extremely good value. They use high flex neoprene where it counts on your shoulders and underarms for paddling performance. The body panels use thicker less flexible neoprene. So you get warmth where needed. If you’re on a budget give Adrenalin a good look.
Accessories can give you more protection if needed. The hood is a personal preference. Booties are more popular. Gloves not so much
Depending just how cold it gets where you surf you can look at accessories. Most surfers though find any accessories problematic. For example the hood limits hearing, in fact it can create a noise in your ears. It can also limit vision. Some booties offer only marginal grip and become stiff in the water. You don’t want a slippery boot, nor one rashing your toes. Gloves need to give good grip and fit snug at your wrist under your wetsuit. You don’t want these filling with water as it creates a problem having to empty them.
So don’t just grab and accessory on the way out. Scrutinise them, give them a good check.
A Winter Wetsuit
Fit. Warmth. Flexibility. Finish. Now you now what to look for get out and start trying on a few different suits. Do they all feel the same? Hone in on what you like, what feels good. While you may think getting a suit with all the features will guarantee warmth and good surfing, it won’t. Start with your fit. Once you’ve got your fit right, next look at the other key features. If it’s hard to decide, check how hot you feel when you’re trying the suit on. This is a good indicator that the suit will be warm for you in the surf too. Next crouch down, twist, swing your arms in a paddling motion. The flex you feel will also equate to your performance in the surf.
How To choose A Surfboard for advanced surfing is different from choosing an Intermediate board. An advanced surfboard is a super refined piece of surfing gear. It may be demanding and unforgiving. It will require you to alter the way you surf. Once mastered though it will make your surfing faster, bigger, more critical.
An advanced surfboard can open up new horizons. It can push you to new levels of surfing. You may compete. This could be against other surfers to stand out at your local break. Or to progress to professional surfing and the World Surf League.
Will riding Griffin Colapinto’s board help you do manoeuvres like this? The board is like a race car. You are the engine that provides the energy to make it go. It’s not just the board. Image courtesy Creatures of Leisure
Your Advanced surfboard is like a highly tuned race car with you as the engine. So it should closely match you. Your physique, fitness, wave reading and surf intuition are what make your advanced board perform.
Pro surfers get master shapers to make their Advanced surfboards. These dimensions hand written on the board, along with ‘For Michel’ indicate this is a custom board for Pro surfer Michel Bourez, Future Fins Team rider
It will have the right volume, in the right places, with rocker, outline and bottom shape blending into a complete performance package. Most Pro surfers get custom boards where an expert shaper tailors the board, in fact a series of boards, specifically to them.
Will any board on the rack suit you? Having the most hype and highest price is not a guarantee a board is going to perform. Trusted advice in store can help you choose the right board
When you first get your Advanced board some attributes may not seem optimal. The board may feel too narrow, under volumed, over rockered, slow, hard to paddle, some or all of these things. It may seem to not go at all.
Using the race car analogy, you’re no longer in a comfortable sedan. So your approach is to make your race car perform.
Advanced Board Roadmap
The World Surf League, WSL, has the details of its Athletes available including weight and height. So you can find a surfer around your body type and check what board they’re riding. The huge number of videos the WSL has available will show you how they ride the board providing a roadmap for your Advanced surfing. Image courtesy of the WSL
The World Surf League provides great material on Pro surfers. Their physiques, weight and what they’re riding. You can see from the wealth of videos how they perform across a world of differing surf conditions.
So one approach is to find a Pro who is around your physique, whose surfing you like. Examine what they’re riding. A benefit here is that you can see almost exactly what they ride, their board dimensions, even how they set it up with fins. You can see how they surf that board in specific waves.
Check FCS Team Rider Filipe Toledo’s bottom turn. His arm is a few centimetres above the wave face. His board is on rail. He’s charging. If you’re 5’9 and 70kg you could follow Filipe’s roadmap to find the dimensions for your Advanced board
For example do they most consistently drop into a deep or shallow bottom turn. Do they get out on the face then cut back to the power or like to setup a hit on that first section. Have they an air game?
So their performance gives you a roadmap to what to expect on your similar board.
Out of Your Comfort Zone
At the Founders Cup Kelly sitting on his board in his wave pool. Sure this is freshwater so not as much float as seawater, but it’s indicative. Your Advanced board is not optimised for floating or paddling but for on-wave performance and that means being super refined
One thing to take notice of is the volume of the Pro’s Advanced boards in the context of their weight. If you can’t find an exact volume reference there’s another way to find out. Check how low they sit in the water compared to how low you sit in the water on your board.
What’s interesting is that most Pros sit up to their chest in water while most Intermediate surfers will be up to their waists. So this indicates that the Pro boards are lower volume. They are lean and refined which equates to high performance on the wave.
The top board is a Superbrand Blackout, designed specifically for the Pro tour. It’s refined, rockered. The lower board is a Superbrand Fling, a fun board. It’s thicker throughout. The difference in rocker might be hard to discern but the Blackout has much more rocker curve in the nose. This helps the board carve into steep faces but is not an aid to paddling. Look how much lower the entry of the Fling is, with more volume and thickness, making for easy paddling
Also what might be harder to discern is the rocker of their boards. The amount of curve. The more curve in the right places makes your board more carving in the wave. So you can do bigger and better manoeuvres. More rocker will have less tendency to slide out giving you a great range of control across varied wave sections. The greater rocker curve of your Advanced board fits better in the curve of the wave.
So what’s the implications?
Lower Volume High Rocker Board
Where is Kolohe Andino taking off on this wave? Out on the shoulder? No he’s taking off under the lip. By their nature Advanced boards require the most wave power to perform. So your wave setup, paddling, takeoff position and manoeuvre-timing all will need to change with your Advanced board
This type of low volume high rocker board is harder to paddle so you have to put in more paddling energy. It’s not designed for paddling out on the flatter part of the wave shoulder where it’s easy to take off. It’s designed to takeoff at the critical pitching part of the wave. So you’ll have to change your takeoff position.
It also sacrifices forgiveness to give you performance. The rails are finer. They’re designed to give a big response to your input. Push too hard and they’ll catch or sink. Miss-time your man0euvre on a section and you might stall or get pitched.
Advanced boards are designed to be super responsive so as to maximise your input. Here you can see Clay Marzo on his signature Superbrand Mad Cat Pro board going crazy
This means you have to alter your surfing. A refined Advanced board is a challenge.
Rail To Rail
World Champion Steph Gilmore. Note you can clearly see the bottom of her board indicative it’s on rail as she does her bottom turn
Rail to rail surfing is a defining feature of advanced surfing that you have to build into your repetoire.
Advanced boards are fastest with only their rail in the water. As an advanced surfer you should be constantly trying to keep your board on rail transitioning between manoeuvres. With the Pros look how often you see the bottom or deck of their boards show towards you. This is an indicator that their opposite rail is in the wave. They are on rail.
Check the trail of Owen Wright’s board on this wave. It’s carving an ‘S’ shape as it goes from the inside right rail to the outside left rail back to the inside rail to hit the lip. Going rail to rail to rail. Rob Machado in the pic below is setting up for the barrel. He not on rail, note you can’t see the bottom or deck of his board as he’s trimming flat on the wave
There are a few manoeuvres, like barrel riding where you may setup with a flat line on the wave. If you look at advanced barrel riding though you’ll see that the surfer often exits the barrel on a different line than they entered. This is indicative of them weighting their rail manoeuvring while barrelled.
So your Advanced board needs to have features that will help you go rail-to-rail. Like rocker, these features might be hard to discern so get the assistance of someone who knows.
To What Standard
The WSL sets the criteria to define advanced surfing. This is the criteria by which the World Champion is chosen. This is a good criteria you can use to judge your progression. Is your Advanced board working for you? John John Florence two time World Champion and Future Fins Team rider
How will you know if you’re surfing better, if your Advanced board is working for you? The World Surf League determines the surfing World Champion. This title is a recognition of performance. So it makes sense to model your advanced surfing on what the WSL considers the best and you can see this in the many competitive heat videos available.
However there is advanced surfing that might not be recognised or rewarded by the WSL.
For example Taj Burrow had an incredible air game before aerial manoeuvres were part of the WSL judging criteria. This was in part made possible by his boards from Greg Webber. Ahead of its time, Taj’s surfing is acknowledged as inspiration for surfers like Dane Reynolds and Kelly Slater.
This is one of Kelly Slater’s boards from around 2005. Note its narrower outline. Below is his Wizard Sleeve model, the same model he won the 2008 Pipeline Masters. Up until that point a board this small, 5’11, wide with a full nose was not considered suitable for that type of bigger powerful wave. From that point this style of board drove Advanced board innovation
Kelly has often gone on his own path with regards to his advanced boards revolutionising the board industry as a whole. First he was on longer narrower boards then changed completely to shorter wider boards. In one of his Pipeline victories he rode a board, a long board with the nose cut off. The model like this was called the Wizard’s Sleeve. This board offered a mix of longerboard rocker and drive with shortboard responsiveness and speed.
So there’s a path as you advance where you can start to optimise your own performance, tweaking or more radically changing your Advanced board design to match your style.
Making A Start
A good way to progress with an Advanced board is to transition through several versions of the same model like this Superbrand MadCat. Keep the dimensions the same but reduce the volume by reducing thickness and refining the rails. In the example above if you’re okay on a 28L+ board go for a 28L board. Then transition to a 27L board but still keep the length at 5’11 1/2″ and width at 19 1/8″. Then transition to 26.5L while maintaining the 5’11 1/2″ x 19 1/8″ dimensions
Start with a transition. Get a Pro model board around the dimensions you are riding now with slightly less volume than your Intermediate board. It should still have volume in the right places for example under your chest and in the rails so they’re fuller, still with some forgiveness. Then with your next board stick with the same model or design at the same dimensions and refine the volume this will automatically reduce the thickness and the rails.
A few iterations updating boards will see you hone in on the right volume. Your paddling will be reduced but your manoeuvrability will be greatly enhanced. Remember your Advanced board is about taking you beyond your comfort zone.
Another aspect is tail width. Kelly rode a lot of rounded pins. John John Florence likes a very tucked in squash tail. A narrower tail provides more bite and control under your back foot. So go for a narrower tail. In addition to the tail template shape there’s the thickness. You don’t want your tail too thick.
Alana Blanchard carving off the top. You can see she’s executed the start of this turn up the face in the sucky part of the wave. A thinner drawn in tail, and the right fins in this case Future Fins, give you the control you need to surf like this. A refined tail is an important part of your Advanced board
The thinner tail gives you control, bite, and responsiveness. It lets you start your turns earlier on the steeper part of the wave. You don’t feel like you’re skating out. You can start your turns without going too far down the face. Watch the Pros and see where they do their bottom turns. Bottom turns are a vital manoeuvre to get right.
Getting critical bottom turns in sooner allows you to utilise more of the wave. You aren’t racing for the shoulder but going top to bottom, rail to rail, putting in big manoeuvres. A thinner refined tail is an important part of your Advanced board.
The Pros like to mix it up with different boards. But you never see them ride a full Fish in a WSL comp even when the waves are smaller. So your Advanced board quiver should focus on not radically different board types, but boards optimised for the variety of surf conditions, small or bigger waves
Once you start to progress tradeup your boards that don’t work. Keep your boards that do. Keep your best Intermediate board too as when you have a break from surfing it’ll make it easier to get back to advanced level.
With regards to having a quiver of different board types, interestingly the Pros don’t use Fish boards on Tour even when the waves are small.
Similarly it’s common to hear that you need a StepUp, a longer board for bigger surf. But the Pros don’t really ride long guns except in the Big Wave Tour stuff. In the case of the Pros the step up in board size for bigger waves may be fractional. Riding bigger waves for them is more about the tuning of boards around the size they’re already on.
Owen Wright in Fiji in solid waves on his way to two perfect 10 scores. The waves are reef waves, solid and powerful. The type of wave you’d use a StepUp for. However Owen’s board is 6’4″ only one inch longer than his normal board. Image courtesy WSL
Owen Wright has surfed solid 8-10′ Fiji on a 6’4 1/2″. His normal board size is 6’3″. Josh Kerr, with his standard board size of 5’10”, talks of his 5’8″ as handling up to 8-10′. One aspect of Josh’s board is that it carries the width up to the nose to give good paddling and wave catching. At the tail it narrows and is thinner to hold in on the big powerful waves. Very similar to Kelly’s Wizard Sleeve.
Kolohe Andino pushing hard on his rail has the right board from his quiver to jam in the pocket
As you look at what the Pros are riding it becomes clear one of the reasons they have lots of boards is that they fine tune, finely match their boards to the conditions. So you may want to start to build your Advanced board quiver so you’ve always got a board to perform optimally in varying conditions.
Sure it’s fun to mix it up with a fix, a twin fin, or speciality board. For your Advanced board quiver it’s about building a set of boards with smaller differences matching different surf conditions.
Your Board – How To Choose a Surfboard – Advanced
All it takes is a good board and you. A good surfer on a Superbrand board
Owen Wright mentions having 80 boards he was testing in his loungeroom at one time. It’s common for the Pros to go through hundreds of boards, even in a year. So the path to an Advanced surfboard can be involved and require resource. Alternatively there’s a wealth of new boards on the shop floor you can see, touch, feel, and go through. With the right advice you can start on a Pro style board and have an easy option to tradeup instore speeding your surfing progression.
Getting on the custom-order path is an option too. You get a board specifically made for you which can often help you on the fasttrack. With our expert shapers on hand you can get several customs so you have your quiver ready, for small, daily and bigger surf. You’ll have all bases covered for your Advanced board progression.
How To Choose A Surfboard at the Intermediate level can be determined by how you want to progress. What style of surfing appeals to you? What waves will you surf? Getting this right will direct you to the right board or boards that will have you surfing your best.
Your Intermediate board will help you progress. Whether it’s a handcrafted custom longboard like those from Steve O’Donnell above or a shortboard like the proven and super durable models from NSP below. One thing is certain in how to choose a surfboard, you want to progress past kooky Beginner moves
One aspect of your approach to surfing and how to choose a surfboard is an appreciation that the ocean and waves constantly change. Whether it’s the wave size with a big or small swell, the wind making for clean or sloppy conditions, or the tide exposing or covering a break, it’s all about change.
Above and below. The same corner break. One day flat the other about as big as it gets and still surfable. The ocean is all about constant change. How to choose a surfboard? Is there one board for you for all conditions?
In your progress on how to choose a surfboard, you need to factor this in when getting your Intermediate board. Your board may feel super fast at low tide and sluggish at high. Or sliding out in bigger waves, carving when it’s smaller. Recognise that your Intermediate surfboard will have an ideal application, strengths and limitations.
Your surfing also is in transition, your skill and ability improving. Your board likewise is part of that transition. So your Intermediate board should be targeted slightly ahead of where your surfing is now to where you want it to be. It should offer you some challenge. A good well chosen Intermediate board will help you progress rapidly and as you tradeup give you maximum return.
Not Created Equal
Dane Reynolds, one of the greatest shortboard surfers of all time takes you on a tour of his garage stacked full of old boards. No, they’re not all magic boards. In 15 minutes Dane takes time to pick out the select few magic boards. Less than five boards out of his decades of surfing . Image courtesy Channel Islands, Dane’s board sponsor
It’s worth mentioning that all boards are not created equal. There are some boards, described as magic boards, that seem to always perform at a high level regardless of conditions.
On the World Tour, out of the hundreds of boards a Pro gets there’s rare boards they acknowledge as being very special. These are often only surfed at special times, such as finals.
So be aware that in your quest of how to choose a surfboard special boards do exist and if one comes into your possession don’t trade it.
It’s All About You
Good surfers come in all shapes and sizes. Owen Wright is the tallest, and skinny, from a field of Pro surfers covering all body types and physiques. Image courtesy Italic Studio
Looking at the World Tour and the body types of the surfers it’s evident there’s a wide range of differing physiques. So if you’re tall, short, solid or skinny, your body type will not prejudice your surfing and there’s a board that will help you progress.
Your surfing ability is closely related to the time you put in. So being a competent Intermediate surfer will require time in the surf. A good board though is a vital factor.
What Is Intermediate Level
Cruising on a Softlite Beginner board above. Below, doing a manoeuvre, a re-entry on an NSP. Intermediate surfing is all about manoeuvres. Your Intermediate board will help you do manoeuvres
At Intermediate level you want to competently cope with the differing surf conditions you find day to day. Faced with a variety of waves your surfing will be more challenging but offer a greater opportunity for fun and to perform.
So what will your Intermediate board help you do on the waves?
Manoeuvres are recognised positionings of your board, turns and actions on the wave that have set names. They’re what you do to ride the wave optimally. For example a bottom turn is a manoeuvre you might do to get around the crumbling section of a wave. Alternatively you could perform over that same crumbling section another manoeuvre like a re-entry, top turn, or floater. Your Intermediate board should help you build up a repertoire of manoeuvres.
Intermediate surfing is also about going fast, with control. This surfer displaying both, flying on his SuperBrand
The other major thing your Intermediate board must do is give you speed. Turning is good but most manoeuvres require or will be performed best with speed. Speed will also definitely help you make more waves.
As you develop competence in doing manoeuvres, the way you do those moves, the placement of your hands, body posture and action you’ll start to see the emergence of your own style.
Do they all look the same? A stack of shortboards all with different bottom curves, rockers. These are all from the one brand, Superbrand. Minor differences make for big differences in your performance
There’s certain almost universal principles that govern the design of longboards and shortboards. Familiarity with them will help you understand what to look for in your Intermediate quest of how to choose s surfboard.
The curve of the bottom of your board from nose to tail is called bottom curve or rocker. A flat rocker gives speed, but too flat and your board won’t turn optimally. A curved rocker gives good turning but too curved and your board won’t have speed.
Rocker starts out with simple concepts but is very sophisticated. This is where some of the magic comes in. There are certain rockers that go optimally in a wide range of conditions that make magic boards. Even with computers and cutting machines magic rockers are elusive. There are however certain rocker dimensions you can look for indicative of the desired characteristics for your board. At the Intermediate level flatter rocker is better.
Screen shot from a computer shaping program showing the bottom shape. The top image shows the profile of the surfboard with a deep single concave that is shaped into the bottom of the board.
Bottom shape, not to be confused with bottom curve, is what is shaped into the bottom of your board. A concave bottom tends to be the fastest shape giving you speed. Longboards often have a concave under your chest with a vee towards the rear of the board. Shortboards have either a single concave throughout or single to double concave.
There are numerous combinations and interrelations of rocker and bottom shape, but you want one that is faster rather than one that may turn well but be slower.
Volume & Thickness
These boards are the same length. The top board has an extra 7.5 liters that is 25% more volume than the lower board. It’s clear to see a lot of it is in the wide tail, which does not aid paddling nor directly aid flotation
Another surfboard characteristic is volume. This is a value described in liters that indicates the float of your board. Volume needs to be used with understanding. In longboards it’s not so important at the Intermediate level.
For shortboards volume is important because you have less board and it has to float you. Volume is represented for example as 25.3L for a smaller board and say 42L for a bigger board.
Where your volume is distributed is equally important. If you have two boards with identical volume, if one has a wide tail, volume will be in the tail and perhaps not under your chest. Meaning the board might not paddle well.
Volume is an important part of how to choose a surfboard. In your Intermediate board more volume is better than less, but it has to be refined in the context of the complete board design.
It All Comes Together
Master shaper Greg Webber showing the refined beauty in one of his shapes. Greg has turned out more than his fair share of magic boards for Pros and every day surfers
Well designed boards crafted by expert shapers combine the various characteristics into good and great boards.
Small differences in measurements can have a big impact on your board. We’re talking about a one eighth or quarter of an inch being a big difference. It may be hard for you to identify and assess what the impact of these small characteristics might be but they can make your board fast or slow, responsive or dead. So at the Intermediate level it’s important to get assistance from someone experienced.
Master shaper Steve O’Donnell brings it all together for you in a super refined longboard. His designs are so good you’ll be able to hand yours down from generation to generation
If you want to longboard the next step in how to choose a surfboard is to get a more refined longboard.
As a Beginner you’ve started on a longer, thicker, wider board. Now you want a more refined board, refined to suit you. The overall size should match your body and physique. If you’re taller stay with length. If smaller come down in length.
As discussed above, your longboard should be flatter in rocker rather than curvier. It should have a fast bottom shape, ideally with concave.
It should still have generous thickness so you get good float and paddling. Where thickness is distributed is important too. You want your board finer in the nose, thicker in the middle where you lay to paddle, and thinner through the tail. Reduced thickness will make your board responsive, easier to manoeuvre.
NSP has refined proven shapes in their lineup. Not as refined as a custom shape but NSP boards come in super durable constructions. NSP offer one of the best returns at tradeup time
The width is not quite as important as thickness but generally boards don’t go over 22″ wide. So come down from that to match your body type. The narrower the board the easier it is to throw around but also don’t go too narrow. You risk losing planing speed and smoothness of ride.
The rails can remain thicker and boxy as this gives forgiveness and enables you to put more energy into turns, pushing and driving without your board catching.
Two Gregs. A Greg Clough design on the left and Greg Webber on the right. Two examples of ideal Intermediate shortboards that give you great fun while progressing your surfing. Note Clough’s design has a fuller nose and is fuller from mid to tail. Webber alternatively narrows this area making up for it with thicker rails. Different designs, both work great
The first step in how to choose a surfboard for shortboard surfing is to drop down from your Beginner board to a shortboard.
The length of your Intermediate shortboard is interrelated with width. So you have a few options based on how you want to surf and what type of waves you want to mainly surf.
If you’re aiming primarily to have fun in day-to-day on waves at your local break an option is a board that is your height. It should be wider than a normal shortboard with fuller nose and fuller tail.
NSP shortboard offerings have the fuller nose and wider tails, though not full Fish tails. They are tried and proven designs dimensioned to fit most surfers. Construction-wise they’ll take plenty of bangs giving you one of the best returns at tradeup time
The volume must be more than enough to give you float and it can be a little thicker in the nose. Definitely thick through the area where you paddle. Thinner through the tail. The rails can remain thick and boxy as this gives forgiveness, enabling you to put more energy into turns, pushing and driving without catching.
The bottom shape should have a concave from under your chest to a single concave or double concave running through the fins.
The rocker, the most important part, needs to be pretty flat.
In this pic you can see the generous volume in an NSP shortboard, not visible just from the outline. Not as refined and hence not as responsive as an Intermediate board might be, though NSP Team Rider Kristy Delport shows you can charge on them
Neither of these boards is a Fish. Both are ideal fun Intermediate boards with fuller nose for easy paddling and wave catching and pulled in tail for good turning. The red under the top board represents the excess area a fish board would add that can limit your manoeuvres
The board described is similar to a Fish design. It’ll be a little longer than a Fish but does not have the straight outline and wide tail associated with Fishes. While not a Fish it will have more area and volume than a normal shortboard. You don’t want an all-out Fish as they tend to give a flat style to your surfing limiting manoeuvres and proper progression.
The type of board described will give you heaps of speed in small to mid-range surf and this equates to fun. The not-too-wide tail will still allow for turns and drive, giving hold in steeper sections.
The Superbrand Tazer and Toy X are great shorboard shapes. They’ve fuller noses but not as wide as the previous described boards. The Tazer has generous width. Both have tucked in tails. The secret to make them work as your Intermediate board is to get a little more length and volume, fuller more forgiving rails, and more width in the tail. Both are available off the shelf and as custom for you
The Second option shortboard is to go a few inches longer than your height. The nose should be more pulled in than the Fish style board, but not too pulled in. The body of the board can be a little wider so there’s more than enough area to give you float without being too wide. Width should not be as wide as a Fish.
Toward the tail there should be a hip or streamlined reduction of width. The tail should be slightly larger than a normal shortboard tail. Thickness can be finer in the nose, thickening where you paddle, finer through the tail.
Even in small junky waves, waist high with no power a well designed Intermediate board has flow and power getting the most from the wave. Throwing spray in a big direction change in the small stuff
The bottom shape can have a single to single or double concave starting from just before your chest all the way through the board. With the rocker there are a few different combinations that will work but to keep it simple a flat rocker through the nose with a flatter curve through the middle to a rising rocker in the tail will work well.
How It Works
Superbrand is a shapers collective bringing the latest and greatest ideas from around the world into proven designs for you. They’ve a handful of key models that are refined year by year. Proven to work they’re great for your progression
The rising rocker in the tail will give you more turning. A board like this with a good rocker will give you a good balance between speed and being able to turn. It will require more work than the Fish-style board. This means you’ll have to keep your board moving on the wave to keep the speed going. Then when there’s the right section in front of you the board will help you throw the manoeuvre you want.
Because your board’s not too wide it will more easily fit in the curve of the wave. It will handle more power, still giving you hold and control in head high waves so you can do carving turns. In your quest of how to choose a surfboard, this style of board is ideal for progressing to Advanced level. It sets you up for doing manoeuvres in the right way.
Shortboard Sweet Spot
Channel Islands is the brand ridden by Kelly Slater over most of his World Title wins. The New Flyer model is a refinement over a decade of one of their best designs.It features a slightly narrower nose, fuller mid, then the hip brings in the tail. It’s an ideal setup for driving your surfing from your backfoot with stance over the board’s sweet spot. This model is TLPC construction, super durable & lightweight
Both the shortboards described above should have a sweet spot, a foot placement from which you get the best speed and turning. The Fish-style board will have a sweet spot slightly forward of the back fin to where your front foot is placed.
The Second option will ideally give you a sweet spot in the area from right over your back fin to where your front foot is placed. You want to only move your feet minimally. You want to plant your back foot over the back fin, and have your front foot consistently in the same position.
In this way by leaning back and forward you control your board.
Pushing with your back foot you can drive into manoeuvres. By leaning forward you generate speed across flat sections and to the next section and manoeuvre. This setup settles your surfing. By not having to move your feet too much you reduce the risk of getting off balance and falling. You can focus on reading the wave, on what manoeuvre you want to perform.
In your progress of how to choose a surfboard, getting this ride-ability through the transfer of weight forward and backward is important.
Aspects of Boarding
A purpose specific board for tiny waves. The Channel Islands Biscuit. Note the fuller nose and how flat the rocker of the board is with very little curve overall. Good for generating the best of whatever speed is available
You can own more than one board. You may have boards for tiny, fat, sucky, big conditions. If you go for several boards check with someone experienced so you get boards that complement each other. You don’t want boards that are too similar.
Making your board perform has a lot to do with you. Some boards need to be paddled hard into the wave and then start to fly on takeoff. A lot of concave boards are like this. Others need only a stroke or two and are already gliding, having good speed when you’re just trimming in a straight line. Others need to be constantly in motion rising and falling on the wave.
Two entirely different styles of boards allow you to mix it up
Surfing regularly you will start to pickup these characteristics of your board, how your body movements can optimise your board and the wave. For example touching your hand to the wave face on a steeper wave helps your board do more powerful turns as this body movement gets it on rail. On a fatter wave turning your upper body and head early in the direction you want to go will generate a more powerful manoeuvre.
Kevlar is offered as an option on some Superbrand boards offering strength, light weight, and advanced flex
While there are a range of advanced constructions featuring carbon and kevlar and epoxy and differing types of foam cores, in the right shape all will work. On the World Tour the Pros are riding both PU and epoxy and mixing it up when needed.
In your quest for how to choose a surfboard, one thing to keep in mind is that the mass-produced epoxy board, while not offering you a custom shape, will give you a better return on tradeup.
Your Open Horizon – How To Choose a Surfboard – Intermediate
With your Intermediate board you don’t have to limit your surfing horizons. You may want to aim for being a Pro. Or you may want to just competently surf your local break. Either way now you’ve got a good starting point to get you going for success in your Intermediate stage.
This pic sums up the right approach to Beginner surfing and getting your right Beginner board. The wave is easy. It’s only about waist height and it’s rolling. The surfboard is ideally matched to this wave. It’s long offering great paddling helping the surfer catch the wave before it’s broken. The board’s length and width characteristics give stability helping the surfer easily get to and stay on their feet. The board’s stability helps the surfer easily balance & ride the wave gliding out on the unbroken face
If you’re a Beginner you may want to just jump right in. For example you might think getting a high performance board and throwing yourself at high performance waves will fast track you to high performance surfing. This will not work.
You may think getting a high performance board and throwing yourself at high performance waves will fast track you to high performance surfing. This will not work. While a performance surfboard will help with high performance surfing, surfing is a progression. You need to have the right approach to start and progress to get you where you want to be
Many aspects of surfing require an approach, the right approach to give you the best result.
Accurately assess your ability.
Making assessments is part of surfing. Are the conditions suitable for my ability? Are the waves easy? Is there a rip? Lifeguards?
Getting this right is the first step to great surfing. It is a consistent surfing principle you’ll often use. For example, for each surf you should assess your ability against the waves and ocean conditions, is there a lifeguard and so on, to check that you’re surfing safe.
Part of your approach to surfing should also incorporate an understanding that surfing is a progression. Your Beginner board is not the board you will always have. You will change your board, trade it in, moving to a more advanced boards as you progress.
So get the right board for you right now.
It will get you on the fastest track to progress.
The right waves direct you to the right type of board. These waves are easy. Easy to get through, easy to catch, easy to ride. Both the above surfers are on long boards suited for their ability and helping them get the best from the easy waves
We mentioned above assessing wave and surf conditions. This is a vital consideration every time you surf. As a Beginner matching waves to your ability means finding a surf spot where the waves are most suitable for beginning to surf.
The waves should be easy and running. They can be broken and foaming, or unbroken. They shouldn’t be bigger than waist height. Ideally they should be closer to shore and not breaking in deep water. You do not want to go out into waves where you have to do a lot of paddling. While paddling is part of surfing, surfing is not a paddling exercise. It’s about riding the waves. Easy running waves will require little paddling to get past and to catch. Once on, an easy wave will push you along at a consistent speed so you can most easily get to your feet.
Waves like these do not match your Beginner requirements. A longboard will not help you with waves like these, it will be a liability. The wave on the left is not that big but look at the top of the wave. It is pitching and has dumped the surfer off his board. The wave on the right is too big for a Beginner and is also pitching
There’s a couple of right types of boards ideally matched to waves like this. Ideally matched to you as a Beginner.
The surfboard above is a softboard, a Beginner board you might see a kid surfing. Yet this good surfer can make it perform the most advanced manoeuvres like this air
Surfboards are a little harder to define into the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced categories. Good surfers can make almost any board perform. There’s longboards and shortboards that are very different from each other yet both are used by Pro level surfers for advanced surfing. There’s fish, fun, hybrid, mini-mal and big wave boards too.
This board is a longboard. It’s an ideal Beginner board. The length and fuller nose make for good paddling so you can easily paddle to and catch waves. The length and width make for good stability so once on the wave you can easily stand, balance, and ride the board
In the Beginner waves we’ve described above, a longer, wider and thicker board is the better match. The reason for this is that a board with these characteristics gives you good paddling and is stable so you can stand up easily.
Good paddling comes from the length of the board. Generally, the longer the board the better paddling it will give. So you can easily get to where the waves are, and easily paddle onto and catch the waves. Length and width also give the board stability. So the more stable the board the more proficient you’ll become at getting to your feet so the faster you’ll progress.
The board on the left is a funboard or mini-mal. It’s shorter but still with quite a full nose and good width. This board is good for a shorter Beginner. The board on the right is a hybrid. It’s shorter still but with more width throughout. If you don’t have easy waves this is the better option as it is easier to handle in more powerful surf than a longboard
The tradeoff is that a longer board will be harder to handle in the more powerful waves. This is because it’s bigger and it gets pushed more by the wave energy. That’s why you want to go where the waves are easy.
This type of big Beginner board can be called a longboard, malibu, mini-mal (mini malibu), funboard, hybrid or softboard depending on your size.
The size board you will get will depend on your personal characteristics such as your height and weight. If you’re bigger and heavier go for a bigger board say 9 feet long, 22 inches wide, 3 inches thick. You can scale down from there.
If you are smaller, getting a board as half as long again as your height is a rough guide to minimum length. Kids seem to do well on any board that’s their height or longer as long as it has enough flotation for them.
Not Matching Waves
Ideal waves for Beginning may not always be available so you may need an alternative to a longboard
While you shouldn’t surf at a spot where the waves are too heavy or dangerous, you may not have a spot where they’re easy running. It may be that the waves are more powerful.
If the waves are more powerful you can drop down the length of your board. You can go for a shorter board making sure it still has good volume and flotation. The board should still be longer than your height and wide and thick to give you volume and float.
Longboards are hard if not impossible to duck dive especially for a Beginner. If you can’t find easy running waves then a shorter board may be the better option as it is easier to handle in the more powerful surf. Below, this is not an ideal Beginner board but this pic illustrates how a shorter board can easily get under powerful waves
This shorter board will be easier to handle in the more powerful surf. Instead of trying to paddle through waves and getting dumped-on and pushed back, a shorter board is easier to get through the wave. A shorter board can be used to duck dive, where you push your board under the wave letting it pass over you.
Powerful surf will push you so you’ll have the speed to stand up even though your board is shorter. Making sure the board is wide will help with stability and give you plenty of area to get to your feet. This shorter type of board can be a mini-mal, funboard or hybrid.
There is a tradeoff with this shorter board. It won’t be as easy to paddle. In fact you may make little headway in the water. It won’t be as stable as a longboard so will be harder to stand up on. Once up shortboards are inherently unstable which is how they get their high performance. They also will lose speed slowing down more quickly making it harder to keep your balance. It won’t be as easy to get started on in easy and weaker waves.
The pic above shows NSP construction. Note the inner foam core has no stringer but is a super strong EPS foam. Wrapped around this is very high quality material indicated as ‘Military Grade Fibreglass’. Several other layers are added giving strength and durability
A board of almost any construction will work as they will all surf. However as a Beginner it’s more likely you will be in situations where you can damage your board. This can be from inadvertent bangs and bumps or from being dumped by the wave itself.
These BIC boards have a plastic nearly indestructible construction. Note the board on the left has an extra wide tail giving extra stability to help during the Beginner stage. Below, just in case you think a plastic board won’t surf, check this great island barrel on a BIC
Epoxy construction and plastic BIC style boards are generally the best beginner choice offering strength. The epoxy boards offer lighter weight and are highly dent resistant though they can scratch. BIC boards tend to be impervious to dents, they do scratch but these are less noticeable. Both boards are strong. The BIC boards are almost unbreakable.
A good value softboard. Note it has 3 wooden stringers to give strength as it outer layer is a soft foam. The soft outer layer means you have much less chance of getting a harsh bump. Softboards often come with soft fins that similarly reduce the chance of a harsh bump
Similarly softboards tend not to suffer from bumps and dents, are lighter for their size and a good Beginner option. A word of caution, only reputable softboard brands are constructed to be durable. Cheaper brands will break.
Softboards are used widely by surf schools such as Manly Surf School. This is indicative of their durable nature. Note the students repetitively jumping up and standing on them
Getting a board that’s durable that doesn’t take damage means it will be easier to trade-in or sell as you progress. Getting a cheap board that damages or breaks will see you having repair costs along with reduced value going towards your next board.
Your Progression – How To Choose a Surfboard – Beginner
Progressing. On the left a great pic showing to surfers at different levels of progress on different boards. The first surfer is competent on a shorter board closer to the breaking part of the wave. The second surfer is less steady but on a longer board getting into the wave on the easier flatter part of the wave
On your Beginner board surfing on your easy waves you can start out just going straight in the foam. It’s all about practicing getting to your feet quickly and getting your balance. Practice staying on your feet through the wave bump and wash.
As you become more proficient start to angle across the wave out of the foam to the unbroken part of the wave. Glide along the open face. Start to guide your board up and down, from the bottom to the top of the wave sensing the speed. Start to turn.
Get your paddling going so you’re able to paddle for the unbroken wave and you can stand up before the wave has broken.
At that point it’s time to progress to your next board.
Get your board, bring it in to our shop and trade it in. Get a great deal on your Intermediate board that will progress your surfing to the next level.