LEARN TO SURF ON DIFFERENT TYPES OF BOARDS

Kim Akrigg

Photographer

Hometown: Vancouver, Canada

Current Residence: Byron Bay, Australia

Social Media Handles: @kimakrigg

Personal Website: www.kimakrigg.com

When you’re first learning to surf the kinds of surfboards out there can seem overwhelming. Surfing seems difficult enough to learn as it is, and making sure you’re on the right board can make all the difference. We’re going to walk you through most of the different types of boards out there, as well as what’s appropriate for each step of learning to surf.

Most surfers seem to fall into one of two categories of preference for what they’re riding, shortboards or longboards. The styles are quite different from each other in terms of what type of waves you’re going to look for, and how you want to surf. It’s generally easier to start out on a longer board and learn to read the ocean and waves on something more forgiving, then size down if you feel like it. That said, it’s great to have both because then no matter what the waves are doing you’re happy.

When you’re buying a surfboard when you’re just starting out it’s important to consider your body size, and where you’ll be surfing. Generally a good choice is long and thick for stability and floatation. They’ll allow you to catch waves easier and focus more on learning to get to your feet. Intermediate and more advanced surfers can experiment with everything from 10 foot logs (longboard) to shorter fish shortboards. The possibilities for fun are boundless!

In surf magazines you’ll see most pro surfers riding high performance shortboards. These boards are usually quite thin, and ranging in height from 5’-7’. Shortboards are highly maneuverable and made for fast, steep waves in the 1’-8’ foot range. Underneath they have anywhere from 2 to 4 fins, and the nose of the board is more upturned. While they’re great for surfers with a bit more experience, they’re not ideal to learn on.

Fish surfboards are named because of their shape’s resemblance to a fish. They are shorter, wider, and flatter than your average shortboard. Generally set up with 2-3 fins, they’re great in small to medium sized surf. Intermediate surfers love them because they’re easy to paddle, and great for catching smaller waves with a bit of a different feeling than a shortboard. However, the characteristics that make them great in smaller surf don’t make them appropriate for steep or hollow waves. They can be a great step towards riding shorter boards if you’re learning.

Longboards (also called malibu’s or mal’s) are closer in appearance to the surfboards that were ridden by Hawaiian nobility. They’re great for surfers of all ages, sizes, and abilities. Longboards range in height from 8’-10’6, and are ridden mostly with 1 or 3 fins. Depending on the style of the longboard, you can either find high performance longboards which are ridden more like a shortboard or more traditionally sliding along the wave and walking up and down the board. Hanging 5 or 10 is where this expression comes in, where you either have the toes of one foot or both on the nose of your board.

Somewhere in between longboards and shortboards is the funboard (or mini mal), which can be great for all surfers in all conditions. They range from 7’-8’2. The size of these boards make them a great fit for beginners who don’t want to haul around a huge longboard, but still make it easy to catch waves with minimal effort. They differ from the fish in that they’re shaped more like a traditional longboard. Mini-mals are also great for beginners to learn to make turns with, and they can be good for heavier surfers.

Whatever your choice of surfcraft, when you’re purchasing a board remember to keep in mind your ability and choose something appropriate. When you’re riding the right board everything becomes more fun, and that’s the whole point of surfing after all!

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