How to Choose a Surfboard
Buying a new surfboard can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you’re new to surfing or looking for your first upgrade.
Visit our online surf shop and you’ll find a huge selection of surfboards of different sizes, shapes and design. Each provides a different surfing experience and is best suited for different surfing abilities, wave conditions and desired ride experience. So how do you know which surfboard to choose?
Here at Surfdock, we’ve been selling surfboards in Ireland for decades. We’ve tried them all, and we know first hand what works at every level. That’s why we’ve decided to help you by creating a simple guide to choosing a surfboard.
We’ll be covering:
- The different types of surfboard available
- What size surfboard you should get
- The best surfboard for beginners
- The best surfboard for intermediate surfers
What different kinds of surfboards are there?
Pop into our surf shop and you’ll see a huge range of surfboard designs to choose from. Although looks are obviously important (you’ve got to love what you ride, right?), there's a lot more that goes into choosing the right surfboard.
Each surfboard shape and design offers something slightly different, so it’s important to choose carefully. Here’s a quick guide to the main surfboard types that are available.
Soft-top / Foamie surfboard
These surfboards are a great choice for beginners as they’re more stable in the water and make it easier to catch waves. Because they’re soft, they’re also a safer option for those earlier stages of learning to surf and can also be fun for more advanced levels.
- Size: 5.5 -7 feet long
- Best for: Kids, beginners, having fun
Another great option for beginners, funboards are like soft-top boards but they have a wider outline and they’re made of fibreglass. They work brilliantly in a range of conditions and can really help beginner surfers build confidence. Many new surfers also choose them as a ‘bridge’ between owning a softboard and upgrading to a fish or shortboard. This category includes all kinds of boards such as mini longboards, larger fish surfboards and hybrid surfboards.
- Size: 6.5 – 8.5 feet long
- Best for: Beginners, intermediate surfers who want to build their confidence.
Longboard surfboard / Malibu surfboard
Long and wide with a full round nose, longboards and Malibu surfboards are loved the world over. They look undeniably cool, they’re available in a huge variety of surfboard designs and shapes, and they’re super easy to paddle. Although they’re a great surfboard for beginner surfers, they’re also loved by intermediate and pro surfers who simply love the longboard feel! One of our favourites in store is the NSP Elements Longboard.
- Size: 8-11 feet long
- Best for: Everyone, especially in smaller waves.
Mini Mal surfboard
‘Mini Mal’ is short for ‘Mini Malibu’ and as the name suggests, it’s simply a short version of the classic longboard design with the same rounded nose surfboard design. It’s fantastic for small to medium waves and again, it’s a great choice for experienced beginners who are looking to bridge the gap between a longboard and shortboard.
- Size: 7- 8.5 feet long
- Best for: Experienced beginners.
Fun and versatile, the fish surfboard takes its name from its fish-like tail. It’s very buoyant and stable, offers more in terms of speed, style and flow and has more volume than other types of shortboard. This makes it a great choice for surfing small or medium waves and works well for all surfing abilities.
- Size: 6-8 feet long
- Best for: All surfing abilities, small and medium waves.
Shortboards are perhaps the most common surfboard you’ll see at higher levels. With their pointy nose and narrow tail, they offer an aggressive and exciting ride. This is the board you’ll see advanced pros riding because they’re powerful in medium to large wave conditions. In our surf shop in Dublin, we often find intermediate surfers reaching for this board and recommend that they wait until they have progressed further because this is a board that takes real skill to enjoy. Buying a shortboard before you’re ready could slow down your progress.
- Size: under 7 feet long.
- Best for: advanced surfers, big waves.
Hydrofoiling is a brand new and exciting sport that features a surfboard with a hydrofoil that extends into the water. Unlike surfing, the hydrofoil or foil board leaves the surface of the water and doesn’t behave like a normal surfboard. If you’re looking for a regular surfboard, this isn’t the board for you, but it can be great fun for advanced specialists.
What size surfboard should I get?
This is one of the most common questions we get asked in our Dublin surf shop. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer to this one - it really depends on what works for you, your unique body size and shape and your surfing ability.
However, there are some easy ways we can calculate what is likely to work best for you.
The most important factors we need to consider are your height and weight. These help us to calculate the best surfboard length and volume for you. The volume of your surfboard affects how well you float in the water and the heavier you are, the more volume you’ll need to stay afloat.
If you want to keep it simple and you’re a beginner surfer, you could choose a surfboard with a high volume. You should aim to be riding the equivalent of your body weight in litres, for example, if you weigh 70kg, you should aim for a surfboard that has a volume of 70 litres.
As your surfing skills and experience improve, you can reduce this to as low as 35-40% of your body weight (so, if you weigh 70kg, this would be 24.5 litres in volume)
Most surfboard manufacturers will tell you the volume of the surfboard so you can get a better idea. You can also use a surfboard volume calculator if you prefer.
In terms of surfboard sizes, it’s usually best not to worry too much about the length and focus on surfboard type and volume instead. However, the surfboard size chart below can help.
What is the best beginner surfboard?
When you’re a beginner, you should be focusing on learning the basics, building your confidence and having as much fun as possible. You don’t need to worry about surfboard features such as speed and manoeuvrability at this stage.
Simply focus on finding a surfboard with the right amount of volume for you, preferably a longboard, soft top surfboard or a funboard. These tend to be more stable, durable and affordable and can help you take your surfing skills to the next level.
What is the best surfboard for intermediate surfers?
Once you can paddle out alone, pop up confidently, stay stable and ride waves down the face in either direction, you can consider yourself an intermediate surfer. This is when your surfboard options really open up.
At this stage, you can start considering what kind of waves you like to ride, how strong you are, what your surfing ambitions are and how you plan to transport your board. It’s likely that you already have a good idea what surfboard works for you, so bear that in mind when you’re looking for surfboards for sale in Ireland.
Traditionally, once you had learnt on a soft-top surfboard the natural progression was to move onto a hard board. That has changed a little in recent years with lots of innovative soft board shapes coming from brands such as Catch Surf and Wave Bandit. You could spend nearly your whole surfing career on a foamie and have a great time. Check out the great youtube channels of Jamie O’Brien and Ben Gravy to see these boards ripping.
Longboards are always a great choice because they’re adaptable for all skill levels and perform well in a variety of wave conditions. Check out our range of longboards from NSP Surfboards and Torq Surfboards or speak to us if you’d like more help.
Choosing a surfboard doesn’t have to feel complicated or overwhelming. Follow the tips we’ve shared here and you’ll soon be out on the water having fun. If you need help choosing your next surfboard, get in touch. We’re a friendly bunch and we’re only too happy to help.