Welcome to the Surf Station’s Surfboard Buyers Guide!
We understanding that buying a surfboard can be a confusing process whether it’s your first board or your last. This Surfboard Buyers Guide is intended to make the process easier by giving you basic rules to follow and explaining some key terms. Hopefully, this guide will send you in the right direction to picking your next super shred stick. As always, if you need any further advice our surfboard experts are only a click away on live help!
To begin we’re going to talk about the four primary types of surfboards, the shortboard, fish, fun shape, and the longboard. These types of boards will differ based on dimensions, tail shape, and nose shape. Each is used for different types of surfers, different skill levels, and different types of waves. The longer and thicker the board the better it will float and thus the easier it is to paddle into waves. The wider the board the more stable it will be when standing up. However, bigger is not always better, by giving up length and thickness you will gain maneuverability.
Without further ado, let’s get into the different types of Surfboards:
Types of Surfboards:
Shortboard Surfboards: The shortboard is considered the high-performance surfboard. It is the most maneuverable shape for quick, snappy turns. Normally ridden by intermediate to expert surfers who have some experience. Shortboards are available in different materials and with different fin setups.
Fish Surfboards: Fishes are thicker and wider than your traditional shortboard. They are often used by surfers on smaller, mushier days where extra paddle strength is needed. Many fishes have swallow tails to generate extra speed but in doing so give up the maneuverability of a shortboard.
Funshape Surfboards: Funshapes are used to bridge the gap between shortboards and longboards, giving the best of both worlds. Typically between the sizes of 7’2” and 8’6”, they combine the easy paddling ability of a longboard with more maneuverability typically found in a shortboard. Funboards are also excellent transition boards for beginners who started on a longboard but are not quite ready for the jump to a shortboard.
Longboard Surfboards: Longboards are excellent all around boards. They are great for beginners who need the extra paddle strength and stability of a larger board. However, they are also used by intermediate to expert surfers for “hanging 10”. No matter what your planned use, longboards are always a great time!
Soft-top Surfboards: A soft top surfboard is just as its name describes – a surfboard with a soft deck top. Soft Top Surfboards are great surfboards for beginners or people learning to surf. The soft deck top allows for a more comfortable paddle and is also very forgiving with dents and dings when learning to surf. Soft Top Surfboards are available in many different materials and sizes.
Surfboard Tail Design:
Squashtail: The loosest of all surfboard tails, the squash is the everyday all-rounder tail. It has the most release in the pocket due to its wide exit area and it the most common choice for everyday surfing conditions. Easy to turn on the face and easy to drive off the bottom.
Roundtail: The roundtail is all about doing smooth turns. If you are looking to polish your style, check out a roundtail. Smooth, flowy turns and drawn out carves can be associated with them. Not the most release in the pocket but still enough to ride in everyday conditions. Not a great groveler at all.
Thumb tail: It is essentially a wide roundtail. It allows for more release in the pocket than the roundtail, but not as much drive due to its wider outline.
Swallowtail: The cut of the swallowtail allows for the tightest turning arc. Pivots easily and changes direction quickly. Great in clean waves and on quads and twin fins.
Diamond tail: A cousin of the squash tail. Turns like a board an inch shorter due to its shorter rail line, but has the drive of a taller board. Lots of releases, but tight on a rail.
Pintail: Drive, drive, drive. But with limited mobility. Great for guns or step-ups.
Surfboard Rail Design:
Full Rails: A lot of flotation due to flatter deck but limited turning ability due to extra foam on the sensitive part of rails. Great for big guys or short small wave boards.
Hard Rails: A lot of drive but limited mobility due to hard edge running length of the board. Great for heavy back footed surfers..ie Taylor Knox
Soft Rails: Turns easily but less drive than a regular rail, user-friendly!
Less Nose Rocker: Fast take off speed but limited pocket turning radius. Holds speed thru sections. Great for grovelers or at a pointbreak.
More Nose Rocker: Really maneuverable but not a great speed generator. Not great for mushy waves excels in dumpy, hollow waves of any size.
Less Tail Rocker: Great speed generator but hard to turn and change direction quickly.
More Tail Rocker: Really maneuverable but not as fast thru turns. Turns great and is best for average or fast-breaking waves.
Pretty basic: bigger fins for bigger guys and smaller fins for smaller guys.
More Rake Fins: Fins with more rake turn easier, fins with less rake and a wider base have more drive.
Narrow Tip Fins: Fins with a narrow tip have more release and fins with a wider tip hold better during turns and generally are looser.
Foil Fins: Fins with a foil hold well thru rail turns and flat foiled fins have more release. The lighter the fin, the lighter your tail, the more maneuverability you have. If your board is too skatey, but fiberglass fins in there to weigh down the tail, thus adding the drive.
We hope this helps you with your surfboard selection. If you have any questions regarding the above information or on anything regarding surfboards, please hit us up on our online LiveChat available M – F 8 am – 9 pm. Leave a message after hours and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.