To fit the surfer to a surfboard, the shapers vary the surfboard's outline, length, width, thickness, tail, rocker, material, rail, contours, fiberglass, and more to make surfboards that perform superbly for a variety of surfers in a variety of wave conditions. This is where Alan can help you get the most out of your surfing. Most surfers don’t know how the different aspects of a surfboard can be changed to help them. Don’t just pick a board because you like the artwork, or your mate has one the same, the brand name on it. It’s like buying a car. You don’t want a car that just looks good, or your mate has one or it has a good badge on the bonnet, but doesn’t suit you needs. Read through the guide below then give Al a call and talk to him about your new board.
If you’re new to surfing and are buying a surfboard for the first time, finding the right board to fit your individual needs can seem a little daunting. Selecting the right surfboard is part art and part science. However, as with any hobby, you should look at choosing equipment which will be most effective in helping you to develop essential skills. For example, a new player at Partypoker wouldn't want to start off by competing in a professional tournament, and they would be better able to develop their technique in a play money game. The same principle can apply to surfing. There are several important factors to consider when buying a surfboard, including: your height & weight, your level of experience, your confidence in the water, you fitness and the type of waves you’ll be surfing in.
The single most important factor when selecting a surfboard is choosing the correct outline – the curves of the surfboard as viewed from above. Secondly, it's selecting the correct size (length, width and thickness) to ensure the proper float. The rocker, tail, bottom profile, rail, etc are secondary considerations that are best left to the shapers' discretion and experience for all but the best surfers.
The surfboards listed on this site are made by the legendary shaper Alan Colk. He has carefullycrafted their designs to reflect his years of experience and feedback from countless surfers. Even If you're exactly sure what you want, give Alan a call and he will talk you through variations in new materials and designs.
For the beginning or novice surfer, purchasing a soft surfboard is the most practical decision. Good quality soft surfboards are comparatively inexpensive and are highly durable. For stability and ride quality, soft surfboards should have a wooden stringer down the center of the board, rails on the edges, and a sturdy deck. Good soft surfboards, which we sell, are made to be safe for children. They are padded, have flexible fins and come with a safety leash. Being soft, these boards are less dangerous than conventional fiberglass boards; the rider won’t suffer a serious injury if the board hits their head or face. These boards are used by surf training schools all around the world.
A basic rule of thumb is: “the bigger the board, the easier it is to stand up and catch the waves”. Longer and wider surfboards are more stable, allowing better balance. The thicker the board is, the more floatation it will provide, making paddling and catching the wave easier. However, you don’t want a board too big because it will be difficult to paddle out past the white water.
If you have aspirations of riding a short board don’t be tempted to go straight to a short board as spending time on a long board will accelerate you ability at a higher rate than going straight to a short board.
Once a surfer has graduated from the soft board (or wants to skip the padded board), the next level up is a fiberglass board. Your first fiberglass surfboard should be a long board. Again, a nice wide, thick, light long board will allow you to easily paddle and catch a wave. Take off is often the beginner surfer's hardest obstacle. For this part, a large buoyant board will allow room for error during take off and popping up. Long boards are made for cruising on small waves, so you can stand up and get the feel for riding in relatively calm conditions.
Long boards are generally 8-1/2 feet or longer, and over 20 inches wide. Thicker boards have higher buoyancy and work better for beginner surfers. The nose and tail are rounded.
Once you become comfortable riding the waves, you will need to learn to turn and maneuver. The shape of surfboard that gives you a balance between agility and stability is the fun board shape. They are good for general wave riding as well as turning, maneuvering and playing on the waves. The fun board is not made to do competitive level tricks or ride the really big waves. It’s an all purpose surfboard, good for recreational surfing. The fun board size and shape make it ideal for a beginner who wants to catch small waves, yet learn some turns and tricks. The fun board will also work on medium sized waves as surfing skills improve.
Fun boards are characterized by a medium length of 7 - 8 feet and relatively wide, 20 - 23 inches. A fun board looks a lot like a long board, with rounded nose and tail. It is basically a smaller version of the long board.
The short boards are most agile and best suited for performing tricks. Shortboards are short, narrow and thin. To get used to the short style, your first short board should be on the thicker side, for buoyancy. When you are ready for advanced tricks, smaller in every aspect is better. (Though a heavy person may need the thickness.)
Short boards can have a variety of nose or tail shapes, but usually not rounded.
By the time you are ready to surf 15 foot barrel waves, you probably don't need this guide, but here it is for the rest of us.
To surf the really big waves, 10 - 20 feet high (or more), you need a specialized board. Number one, it's got to be long. Gun style boards are usually 7 feet or longer. Number 2, its got to be fast and maneuverable. Advanced big wave surfers use a very long and narrow board with a slender body and round-pin tail. We will get into the explanation of body and tail features below.