Choosing a Surfboard
by Detlef [January 29, 2007]
Longboards, funboards, shortboards, fish--there's no good or bad type. The kind of board you ride depends on many things, such as wave conditions and your size, stance, experience, and physical fitness.
There are several kinds of shortboards but the most familiar is the thruster. The standard design is tri-fin with a narrow nose and tail, and under 7 feet. These boards can't be beat for high performance surfing. Great for tricks and fast entries into quick breaking waves, this is what most people want to ride if they can. After spending a few years on the "big" boards, getting into better shape and learning how to judge waves, I got a 6' 8" thruster. This board really opened up surfing for me. Not only was it easier to transport (I could chuck it in the back of the car), but I could get into a lot more waves than before.
These are surfboards over 9 feet. Longboards are what most surfers start out on. It's what I learned on. Some surfers don't ever leave them. If you're fortunate enough to surf long enough, it's probably what you'll end up on. My first surfboard was a 9' 6". I surfed it at the same beach for a year and half. My second board was a 9-foot Pearson Arrow and a little more narrow. I used it for several years even while trying other types of boards. You can't beat a longboard for paddle and glide. If I jump on a longboard now I feel like I'm sailing after a few strokes. But longboards don't make as fast an entry as something shorter. I got tired of watching shorter boards get most of the rides on certain days while my longboard crashed into my head/chest/other body part. I needed a smaller board for those conditions.
Funboards, Eggs, Hybrids
Endless Internet threads debate what to call these, but to me these surfboards are just mini-longboards. Their shape is similar to a longboard and they're usually between 7 and 9 feet. I had a couple of these, one was an epoxy and the other was so mangled it became a decoration in my backyard. For me these made good transitional boards to shortboards. I prematurely made the switch from the 9-foot longboard I mentioned earlier to a 6' 10" thruster, and it didn't work so well for me. I ended using an 8-foot funboard most of the time.
Shorter even than many shortboards, most fishboards are under 6 feet. These are my favorite surfboards. I have a couple of them. One is a 5' 11" twinzer fish that I surf when it's small and the entry's not too fast. The other is a 5' 9" quad fish, with a shape somewhere between a thruster and a fish. It's the best, most versatile board I've ever had. It's not as high performance as your hotshot 6' 2" thruster, but it paddles better and I can't do those really fancy tricks anyway. I have not yet tried and epoxy (lighter and stronger surfboard construction) fish. I have tried other epoxy boards and wasn't thrilled by the feel of them but I think it might work for a fish.
These are long boards....sometimes up to 12 ft, with narrow noses and tails. They're for big 15+ foot waves and not for me - no thanks. I'll take 6 foot and clean, no matter how many co-workers/relatives/strangers ask me if I surf Mavericks. If you're crazy enough, these boards are for you.
About the Author
For more information about surfing visit www.surfingcal.com. Northern California based website with equipment guide, blog, surf report, and more.