Having the right size and shape surfboard is very important when learning how to surf. This can make all the difference. A surfboard that is sinking and is too small can leave you frustrated and ready to give up.
When starting out for safety purposes, we use and recommend using a soft-top surfboard. Soft boards are designed for beginners and have a lot of volume which creates more stability while paddling and popping up. Soft boards perform like a traditional hard or (fiber glass) board, but do not hurt as much if you bumped in the head or come in contact with the fins. The fins on a soft surfboard are more flimsy and flexible, and not nearly as sharp as the fins you’ll find on a hard board.
If you’re an adult learning how to surf, we recommend a Longboard soft board. Longboards are typically longer than 8’0, and have a round nose or front tip. We use 9’0 and 10’0 longboards when teaching adults or anyone weighing more than 100 lbs, but height, weight, and fitness play a huge role when deciding how big to go. Like we mentioned before, soft boards are designed with beginners in mind and are wide, thick, and stable which makes it much easier to stand up on, and requires less paddling to catch waves.
For kids, we be begin on soft surfboard between 7’0-9’0, however it all depends on the childs height, weight, and athleticism. Young athletic kids may very well be able to learn on a narrow thin short board around 6’0. But for safety its always best to use a soft board until the child masters board control.
To summarize the different types of surfboards, we can break it into two main materials categories, being soft or hard (fiberglass), and the three main shapes; Longboard, Fun Shape, and Shortboard. These are the main terms you hear when shopping for a surfboard.
- Longboards are typically 8’0-11’0 and have a rounded nose or tip. Soft longboards are designed specifically for beginners and are going to have a lot of width and thickness for more stability. Fiber glass or hard longboards can vary greatly in volume and design, so its not as simple as grabbing any 9’0 fiberglass board off the rack. You must ask about the dimensions and volume to make sure it’s right for your size and skill level. Most long board riders enjoy the ease of paddling into waves and like to casually cruise on the wave face.
- Fun-shape boards are usually in the 6’6-8’0 range and have a rounded but slightly more pulled in nose. Fun shapes may have similar width and thickness to a longboard but are meant to bridge the gab between longboard and shortboard. Fun shapes can be hard or soft. A soft fun shape may be a good starter board for a child weighing less than a 100 lbs.
- Shortboards can vary in length but are usually in the 5’0-7’0 range. The easiest way to identify a shortboard is the nose. Most shortboards have a narrow pointed nose. This board requires experience to ride. Things like wave knowledge, paddle strength, and balance will likely be required to catch and ride waves on a shortboard. If you’re new to surfing it is not recommended to begin on a shortboard.