So here’s a simple guide to some of the main types:
If you are just starting out and want to be up and riding quickly, then the longboard could be for you. These wide and lengthy boards are stable and easy to stand up on. Their thickness means that regardless of your weight and size, you’re sure to find a longboard that will float you.
Riding them requires less skill and balance than the shortboard, while their buoyancy makes it easy to catch even small waves.
Measuring between 8-11 feet, they are more sluggish than the shortboard, however, you can still pull off some great manoeuvres on them. Despite being the perfect board for beginners, surf legends including Robert “Wingnut” Weaver continue to ride and advocate these versatile and classic boards.
If your idea or surfing is speedy turns, fancy tricks and carving the faces of waves, then you need the much lighter (and obviously shorter) shortboard. However, be warned that you won’t be tearing up the ocean on day one.
Learning to surf on a shortboard is harder and requires more commitment and dedication. It is highly prone to tipping and, at first, just standing up on it will seem like a triumph. However, once you get the hang of it and work out how to control it, you’ll find it more responsive to your movements and easier to manoeuvre.
Less buoyant that the longboard, the short board requires more strength to paddle and is best suited for skilled surfers and athletic beginners with bags of patience.
These boards are big, thick and stable making them a favourite with beginners and surf schools. Generally shaped like a longboard or a funboard, they are made from soft foam that makes them extra floaty. They are easy to stand up on, catch waves easily and are light to carry.
Their soft coating means they don’t hurt you when they hit you (those who took their first paddles on a long board may remember taking a few knocks to the head!). It also means you don’t damage other surfboards should you suffer a little crash.
‘Foamies’ provide a great place to start. Hopefully, you’ll find you quickly learn the basics on a foamboard before progressing to the harder (but not too dissimilar) longboard.
FunboardsThese are a great cross between longboards and shortboards, combining a shorter board that is easy to manoeuvre with the buoyancy and stability of the longboard. Just like the longboard, the funboard makes light work of catching waves and is easy for a beginner to ride. Although funboards are less cumbersome than longboards, they aren’t for the serious surfer. Still they are great on small rolling waves and make turning simple, fun and quick. Some even come with a soft coating.
This stubbier version of the short board isn’t recommended for beginners and requires equal or better skills than needed for the short board. However, it is really responsive and manoeuvrable, meaning experienced surfers can catch and ride waves of pretty much any size.