Finding the right surfboard can be a hassle, especially when you are first getting into the sport. There are countless options, from length, width, weight, construction material, and there truly is no one-size-fits-all option to choose from. Asking another surfer for their opinion can only you get you so far, as each individual has their own preferences, and knows what works for them based on their experience. Rather than getting bogged down in the details, which can be overwhelming, here are a few things to keep in mind as you look for your first stick:
GO FOR A TEST DRIVE.
You wouldn’t buy a car without giving it a spin first. That’s the only way you’ll know if that car is the right one for you, and surfboards should be treated the same way. You’re going to be spending a lot of quality time with your new purchase, so giving it a chance to perform on some waves is the only way to know you’re buying the right one.
The easiest way to do this is to ask a friend or fellow surfer if you can try out their board. Some shops located near a break will also sometimes give potential buyers a chance to try out some demo boards. Get in the water and see how it handles before pulling the trigger.
ASK YOUR LOCAL SHOP FOR ADVICE.
It’s easy to get a little shy when entering a surf shop for the first time. After all, shop owners and employees have a notoriety for sometimes being less-than-forgiving to newbies in their sport. Get that thought out of your head, and go in with confidence. Pick their brains. Tell them what type of surfing you’d like to do and ask them what they think would work best for you.
And if they give you a hard time, or try to sell you on something you might think you won’t need, don’t be afraid to bail out. Again, it’s your money and it’s a board you’re going to spend a lot of time with, so take your time and choose the right one.
DON’T LET THE PROS CLOUD YOUR JUDGEMENT.
Professional surfers have access to the best boards money can buy, but don’t think that their talent comes from their high-priced equipment. They’ve spent years honing their craft. Just because you love the look of John John Florence’s latest stick doesn’t mean that the same board will work well for you.
To go back to the test drive analogy, just because you’ve been driving for years doesn’t mean you would be able to handle a Ferrari the first time you sit behind the wheel.
Getting a shaper to create a board that is tailor made for your needs is a great way to ensure you are outfitted with the right equipment. Now, we wouldn’t recommend a custom board for your first stick… or even your second one. Get some mileage (and waves) under your belt before you make the investment in a custom board. That said, the experience you’ll have using a board that has been custom made for you will be unlike any you’ve had previously. And a shaper will be able to guide you in the right direction based on your height, weight, style and location.
At the end of the day, the best way to find the right board for you is by actually going out and surfing with potential boards. If the process seems overwhelming, take a step back and remind yourself about what you’re doing – you’re buying a board that will help you get further into a sport full of passionate people. Good luck!