How To Buy Your First Surfboard

Max Hepworth-Povey

4 years ago in Surf

Buying your first surfboard is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. If you’re like me and walk straight into the shop totally uneducated and purchase an ex pro model (one of Egor’s, a 6’2 x 18 if I remember rightly) you will add years onto your surfing progress and have a rubbish time during. If you’re clever you will read the advice below, be honest with yourself and the salesperson and be ripping the waves in no time.


1. Get a second hand banger

Many factors contribute to buying your first surfboard such as budget, weight and how often you’ll use it, but the only thing that matters when you’re out in the water is getting as many waves as you can, whilst bearing in mind you’ll be buying a board that will get knocked about a bit. It’s inevitable that as a novice surfer you’re going to ding your board putting it in the car, carrying it down steps, stupidly leaning it upright on a windy day, but that’s cool, it adds battle scars and memories. So my advice is to start on a used board, then those dings won’t be as painful, it’ll keep your cost-to-wave ratio down and you’ll will be upgrading in no time.

2. Don’t sell yourself short

As mentioned in the intro, don’t learn to surf on a shortboard. You see groms on shortboards on instagram getting pushed into waves by their pro parents, but unless you had one of these idyllic California’esque upbringings, a shortboard will feel horrible in every way. They aren’t thick enough, long enough, or wide enough and you’ll probably sink it paddling as well.

But don’t stress, it won’t be long before you’re swapping the thick lump for a slinky stick.

3. Don’t be afraid of the foamie

Foamies, or soft tops, or foam boards, or swellies, whatever you want to call them are great fun for everyone. They are easy to learn on and perfect for mastering the basics. This is due to their buoyancy, which makes paddling and wave catching as easy as possible. They are also extremely forgiving and won’t poke your eye out if you get knocked in the head. An 8ft foamie should do most adults just fine, 9ft if you’re rather large, 7ft for small women and 6ft for kids.

Foamies are now a part of a lot of pro surfers quivers due to the mega fun times they offer and the PR from brands such as catch surf. They are also increasingly funtional for the more advanced surfer. Check Harry Timson above getting mega barrelled in France on one.

4. Maybe a Mal?

If you plan on surfing often you might want to consider getting a mal (longboard 9ft+) or a mini mal (7’2 – 9ft) as A. You’ll probably feel more proud walking down the beach with a ‘hardboard’ and B. You will actually outgrow the limitations of the foamie quite quickly. Second hand mals hold their value, so budget £200 for an alright one, £300 for something really nice. If you want something to last a while, go against what I suggested at the start and get a custom board that’s perfect for you. Watershed in Newquay do beautiful customs as do Quiver surfboards and you will feel like a surfing superstar strolling down the beach with that baby (as long as your fins are facing the right way and your wetsuit isn’t back to front)

5. It’s a keeper

It’s highly likely that your beginner board will become your small wave board as you progress, so get something that you like and puts a smile on your face.

Also remember, surfing is all about fun so if you’re loving that foamie and don’t even want to take it to that next step don’t. Just enjoy the ride. There’s a guy here in Newquay who surfs a foamie every day and is easily in the above average catagory. I saw him getting the best waves on the swell of the year at Fistral last week with a MASSIVE smile on his face. I also use my ‘mini mal’ way more often than I should, but I can’t help but feel the stoke every time.