Buying your first surfboard: common mistakes and how to avoid them

Buying your first surfboard

So, you’ve cut your teeth all summer hiring a big yellow foamie. You’re catching waves, standing up consistently and you’re serious about surfing. Now it’s time to take it to the next level with your own surfboard.

Buying your first surfboard should be an exciting experience, a bit like getting your first car. But it’s important to get it right to make sure you progress your surfing. Get it wrong, and you could end up getting frustrated and giving up surfing altogether.

Here’s a few mistakes that beginners make and what you can do to make sure you don’t fall into the same trap:

Blowing the budget

Boards cost anything from a hundred quid for a softie to well over a thousand pounds for a custom longboard. Don’t be sucked into thinking that the more you spend the better you will surf. If only it were that simple!

If your budget doesn’t stretch far you may want to consider going for a second-hand board. There are plenty of excellent boards out there and with a little effort you can bag a real bargain.

Buying a shortboard

Yes, we get it. Kelly and John John ride them and they look cool. They’re easy to carry and you can duck dive them.

That may be true but they’re totally the wrong reasons to buy one as your first surfboard. You won’t catch any waves and as a beginner you won’t have the technique to duck dive it anyway. The less waves you catch, the more frustrated you’ll get and it could mean the difference between you sticking with surfing and giving it up altogether.

Do yourself a favour and start with a board that has enough length, width and float to ensure you’ll catch tons of waves. The more waves you catch, the quicker you’ll progress and one day aspire to that pointy shortboard!

Not getting any advice

You may think you know a bit about surfing, but when it comes to buying your first surfboard, get some advice from an expert. They’ll suggest the best board for progressing from a foamie.

The traditional route is to get a mini-mal (also known as a fun board). These are larger boards, generally 7’2” to just under 9’, with plenty of volume and width. They’re a great transition board from a foamie and offer good value for money.

Another option is a longboard. They’re longer than mini-mals, in the 9’ plus range, and offer great stability, however they’re less manoeuvrable and tend to cost more.

Either of these options will help you get into waves early and give you that little helping hand in getting up and staying up long enough to think about starting to turn. Talk to a shaper or a good honest surf shop about the best option for you.

Being honest about your ability

When getting advice, make sure you’re honest and realistic about your surfing abilities. There’s no point making out you’re the next Gabriel Medina or Steph Gilmore – you’ll just end up with the wrong board. Be honest about how often you surf, where you surf and what stage you’re currently at.

Any shaper or surf shop worth their salt will make sure they sell you the right board. After all, they want you to come back some day when you’re totally ripping and ready to progress to buying your next board!

Not being able to get your board to the beach

Unless you’re lucky enough to live across the road from your local break, you may need to think a bit about transportation. Short boards are not so much of an issue, but the longer the board, the more likely it is that you will also need to factor a roof rack into your costs if you don’t already have one.

Of course, you may be able to slide the board down the passenger side, and it’s surprising how much board you can get in the average hatchback, but it does limit who else can catch a lift with you!

The bottom line

Choosing the right surfboard is just one part of the progress equation. Add in regular time in the water, making sure you’re surf fit, having lessons to help prevent plateauing and you’ll progress in no time.

But above all, remember it’s all about having fun!

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