AM I AN INTERMEDIATE SURFER?
If you have the opportunity, it’s a good idea to speak to your surf instructor or a more experienced surfer friend before buying a board. Choose someone who has seen you surfing and has an idea of your surf level. The owner or manager of your local surf shop will also be able to help. If you’ve already visited Surfivor Surf Camp, please send us an email! We will do our best to give you advice based on your surf goals and specific circumstances.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR NEXT SURFBOARD
Type of Waves
What type of waves do you like to ride? What type of waves do you have access to? Look at the more experienced surfers in your area to help you decide what style of surfing is appropriate. If you have lots of Longboarders and Stand Up Paddles (SUPs), you have a more long and mellow wave. If you have more Shortboarders around, your waves are fast and powerful, and can get big at times.
Surfing is a motor sport. If you live within walking distance of a surf spot that works frequently… you’re probably already out surfing instead of reading this article. More likely, you will have to drive, fly or train and bus to your chosen surf spot. Consider your mode of transportation when choosing your next surfboard.
A big, heavy board can be a pain to drag around. An expensive fiberglass board can easily get damaged by airport baggage handlers or roof board straps. You want to get something that’s relatively easy to carry but still has enough size for you to catch waves. At this stage in your surfing career, durability is a good thing.
Size and Fitness
Height and weight are important in choosing your perfect surfboard. This is another reason it’s good to visit a local board shop and speak with their employees. Your size can be used as a starting point for finding the right board. The bigger you are, the bigger your board should be. There are many Surfboard Volume Calculators available online which may give you an idea of your recommended board dimensions based on your weight, height and experience level.
Your fitness level is also a factor. Generally speaking, the fitter you are the smaller you can push your board size. If you have very little arm and shoulder strength, paddling is going to be more difficult and you should opt for more volume in your board.
Do you want to rip big turns like the pros? Or style out and hang 5 off the nose? Surfers are typically either Shortboarders or Longboarders. Although many dabble in both, all tend to sit in one camp or the other. This is because the movements, the maneuvers, and techniques are very different. Surfing takes a very long time to improve, so focusing on one is likely to give greater rewards.
Ask yourself if you want to be a Shortboarder or a Longboarder to help you decide which board to buy next. This decision may be heavily influenced by the Type of Waves you have access to, your local surf community and your main mode of surf Transportation.
TYPES OF SURFBOARDS
Foamboards, Foamies, Softboards
These are surfboards made of foam and are typically used for beginners and in surf schools. The large volume of the board makes it easy to catch waves. The foam material also makes these boards safer for students who are new to surfing and likely to have accidents or collisions. Normally Foamies are over 8′ but there are now Foamboards available as short as 6′. If you love the Foamies, this could be suitable for you intermediate surfers.
You would have to decide if you like the Foamie enough to spend €200 – 300 on it, as opposed to a hard board you could get for the same price. If you are considering buying a full size Foamie, we would advise against it. These boards are space consuming and heavy, and you will find them very slow down the line once you’re consistently catching green waves.
Shortboards are generally shorter than 6’4”, with low volume, and are used for ‘performance surfing’. This type of board is more appropriate for advanced surfers than for intermediate surfers. The shortness and low volume makes it more difficult to catch waves, to maintain balance, and to improve.
Longboards are longer than 8′ or 9′ and are a great option for intermediate surfers. The Longboard is easy to paddle and pop up on, and offers lots of options for maneuvers and style. You will see Longboarders cross stepping, walking up and down the board, hanging five – or ten – toes off the nose, and even doing headstands. The main drawbacks of Longboards is that they are heavy and large (though not as large as foamies). They can also be hard to paddle out to the line up in strong surf or heavy conditions, but for intermediate waves should be no problem.
Fish Surfboards look like… a fish! They are thicker and wider than Shortboards, giving them much more volume. Fish Surfboards are much shorter, 7′ or less, than Longboards or Mini Mals. They often come with 2 (twin) or 4 (quad) fins, which give them more speed but less maneuverability than 3 fins (thruster). These boards are best suited to small and mushy conditions, such as wind swell. They are a good alternative to a Longboard if you mostly surf in these conditions, but don’t have the ability to transport a Longboard. But keep in mind that because they are much shorter, these boards are far less stable than Longboards.
An Egg Surfboard is an option that sits between a Shortboard and a Longboard. This board profile gets it’s name from the egg-shaped nose. The length is anywhere between 6’6″ – 8’5″. The board is thicker and wider than a Shortboard, with thick and rounded rails. All of this makes for more volume and more stability. I think of an Egg as a short Longboard. They are stable like a Longboard, but get less paddle speed and are trickier to pop up on. Eggs are typically used with 3 fins, making them easier to turn than a Fish.
Malibu, Mini Mal and Funboards
These boards are typically 7′ – 8’6″, so are very similar in length to an Egg. The difference is that these boards will be thinner and more narrow – more towards the profile of a Shortboard. If you are really interested in becoming a Shortboarder, this is the right step between a Foamboard and a Shortboard.
Guns are long and narrow and are specifically for very big waves. Because they are so narrow, Guns are very unstable and unforgiving. These boards are built for speed and are not appropriate for intermediate surfers.
Although some surfers love foam boards, we feel you are likely to outgrow them quickly. They are heavy and space consuming, and slow down the line. Foamies are great for renting and learning, but once you are starting to turn down the line it is time to change to a hardboard.
Materials and Durability
A polyurethane shaped board is a beautiful thing, but is probably not the right board for you. The first reason is the high cost. The second is the strength and durability.
We feel it’s better to go for the reduced weight and added strength of a plastic board. The lighter weight will make it easier to stay higher up on the water and therefore paddle. The added durability will help preserve the board’s condition. Since you’re not used to transporting, storing or using a proper surfboard yet, you will likely be pretty rough on it. Keeping the board in good condition will be of value when you go to sell it.
So with your next board purchase, buy something durable and affordable, knowing that it will be a transition. Use the money you saved for a good wetsuit, plane tickets, or a Surf Camp.
You Want To Be A Shortboarder
At this stage in your surf progression, it is likely that you will outgrow you new board. This is especially true if your goal is to surf and progress a lot. But the board between an 8’ foamie and a sexy shortboard is crucial to your development as a surfer. So it’s good to think of this investment as an important transition, but something that you will eventually outgrow.
The first and most important advice on choosing the right size board is don’t go too small. Many intermediate surfers buy a beautiful board that’s way too small for them. The lack of volume in a Shortboard will prevent you from paddling fast enough to get into the wave. If your board is too small for your ability you will catch far less waves and seriously impede your progress. If you aren’t sure that you’re ready for a performance shortboard, you almost definitely are not.
Our recommendation would be a Minimal or Funboard from 6’6” – 8′, depending on your height and weight. Torque and NSPs have good options that are durable and perform well in a variety of conditions. This size board should work in anything from ankle high wind swell (mushy, choppy, weak) to head high and clean, and everywhere in between. These boards travel well and have good resale value.
A minimal is a great intermediate surfboard, but an oversized shortboard is another good option. A shortboard for a surfer between beginner and intermediate levels should be 6” to 12” longer than they are tall and should also have plenty of volume. If you want something higher spec, you could consider a Fish or an Egg. Watch some videos online of people surfing these board types to get a better idea of the surf style and possibilities for each one.
You Want To Be A Longboarder
Longboards are insanely fun! If you have a big enough vehicle and are driving to your surf spots, as opposed to flying, get a Longboard!
A low budget glassed Longboard will cost €600 – €800. As such, if this is your first board it’s better to buy plastic. Plastic, plastic, plastic! BIC and NSP have good options for Longboard profiles.