Surfing dates back hundreds of years to when islanders would ride heavy timber planks to shore on the coasts of Hawaii. Its real explosion came in the 1950s and 60s, when cheaper, lighter materials made the sport highly popular. And let's not forget Gidget, the movie, which also helped bring it back. Continued advances have made today's boards better then ever. There are a variety of different models available to suit different budgets.
Let's get to know the board. The front is called the nose, the back is known as the tail, and the sides are called rails. The top of the surfboard, where the rider stands, is called the deck, and those little fins in the back are known as skegs. Down the center of the board is the stringer.
Choosing the Proper Board Size
Surfboards are sold in length varying anywhere from 5 to 11 feet. Whichever surfboard you buy, it should be at least 6" taller than your own height.
* '''Longboards -- '''A longboard (9' or over) glides across the water, and allows for better balance.
* '''Shortboards -- '''Shortboards (under 7') are more maneuverable, but paddle slower.
* '''Wide Surfboards''' -- Wider surfboards are more stable.
* '''Thick Surfboards''' -- Thicker surfboards are more buoyant, making it easier to paddle and catch waves.
* '''Ultra-thin or Light Shortboards''' -- Ultra-thin, light shortboards are tougher for beginners.
Types of Boards
Soft boards, longboards, mini mals and pop-outs are all good boards for beginners. The best surfboard for learning on is broad, light and thick. Most surfboards are custom built, giving you lots of options for finding the right board.
*An inexpensive option that is ideal for children, beginners and the occasional surfer.
* Not as versatile as a fiberglass board, but it's not meant for long term use since these aren't the most durable boards available.
* Soft surfboards, or foamies, are large, buoyant and stable, making learning simple.
* They are soft enough that they lessen the blow of an impact. The fins on foamies are also softer than on other kinds of surfboards.
* If you decide on a soft surfboard, you may want to move on to a more versatile surfboard fairly quickly depending on your skills. That means buying twice within a relatively short amount of time. Another factor to keep in mind is that soft boards don't take physical abuse well. They will show damage much faster than other boards.
* Some examples of softboards:
** Surftech Soft Hybrid Surfboard
** Takayama Soft Surfboard
*Pop-out boards are a low priced option for beginners looking for a good starter board. It will grow with you as you develop more skills and it can easily be replaced once you are ready to move on to a real board since they have an excellent resale value. Part of their durability and versatility has to do with their construction.
* These surfboards have a foam core that is covered in fiberglass. Pop-out surfboards are heavier than soft surfboards and they won't provide the soft, bruise-free surface that a soft surfboard has.
* They are stable, but arent as responsive in the water as a true, full fiberglass board. These boards are made of both foam and fiberglass. That means that you will learn to control the board properly before moving on to a more aggressive board.
* A good option for those who have dappled in surf lessons and who want to make sure that they are ready to invest the time and money into becoming more serious surfers.
* Some examples of pop-out boards:
** Bic 5ft10 Surfboard
** Bic Surfboards 7'3" Wahine Surf Womens Board
*The shortboard, or thruster, is a light, easily maneuverable board designed for quick turns, getting air and performing tricks. They are also good for doing duck dives.
* One major thing to note is that shortboards have a more pointed nose and tail.
* The construction is of heavy-duty fiberglass, making them heavier, sturdier and more durable than a pop-out board.
* Ideal for surfers with experience willing to spend the money on a custom board.
* Shortboards measure from 5'8" to 6'10" in length.
* They typically have three fins, though there are some with single, double or more.
* The "fish," another type of shortboard, is shorter, ranging between 4'8" and 6' in length. It is also wider and rounder than a typical shortboard.
*Also known as a Malibu surfboard, longboards generally start at about 9' long.
* The nose is more rounded than that of a shortboard, and the overall shape is is slightly more oblong. They are often thicker in order to support the length. This extra length and thickness gives them added stability.
* Typically, these are only single-fin boards, meaning that they are good for speed and cruising, not for pulling tricks. They are good for beginners who want a stable, smooth ride.
* Try to avoid very old, heavy boards because they can be awkward to use and may not surf as well.
* The "gun" is another type of longboard. However, it resembles a shortboard with it's pointy tail and nose. This is a bigger board meant to surf bigger waves, ranging in length from 7'2" to more than 12'.
Everyone, with the exception of some expert surfers, should use a leash while surfing. Leashes prevent you from losing your surfboard in a wipeout, so you can retrieve it more quickly and catch more waves. Most importantly, leashes help you keep control of your board and keep it from hitting other surfers. A board leash with a padded ankle strap will provide comfort and a swivel leash will minimize tangles.