Types of Surfboards

Theory of surfing – in our surf school and camp on Fuerteventura

Different sizes, shapes and hints on the right surfboard for your abilities!

Finding the best surf board matching your abilities depends on various criteria:

Choosing the right surfboard depends on a number of factors e.g. the type of wave and attributes of the surfer like height, weight, physical condition, experience and motivation.
The most common mistake is choosing a surfboard with too little flotation. Many people want to surf on the same board as pro-surfers; however this will do you no favours. If the flotation is not sufficient, because the surfboard is too small or narrow for you, it will be a lot harder to catch waves, to surf on them and to have fun in general. It would be wise to start off on a bigger board, offering the best support when learning, before slowly making your way down to a short board.
To ensure you end up with the right surfboard, here is a brief introduction to the different board shapes and types. Every purchase involves a compromise; you have to be aware that there will be no perfect surfboard which will suit you and all wave condition at all times. 

In general board types vary in

  • Flotation, which will effect whether you catch the waves or not
  • Stability, e.g. during paddling for the waves
  • Speed, e.g. during paddling for the waves
  • Manoeuvrability
For a start we will divide boards into  the following categories:

Long board (Malibu), Mini-Malibu, Fun board, Short board as well as Fish and Semi-Gun & Gun with possible crossovers between the shapes.  

 

 

How do we measure a surfboard?

Worldwide the measurements of surfboards are quoted in feet and inches. A board described as 6´4“ × 18 ⅔“ × 2 ⅜“ is 6 feet, 4 inches long, 18 ⅔ inches wide and 2 ⅜ inches thick.
The thicker the board, the more flotation you will have. So heavier surfers and beginners need thicker boards.
Further differences between board types are seen in the tail, stringer and the number of fins etc, as well as in the general design and material of the surfboard. 

 

We will now look at each of the following types of board in the following sections:

  • Long board (Malibu)
  • Mini-Malibu
  • Fun board (Evolution, Hybrid Egg)
  • Short board
  • Fish (Retro und New-School)

 

Longboard

96605d8711 Surfboard Typen

The classic long board generally measures between 9-10 ft in length, 22 inches in width and 3-4 inches in thickness. They go back to the good old days in the 60´s, when Hang Fives and Hang Tens were in style. At the end of the 60´s, they  went out of fashion and were replaced by short boards; however lately they have experienced another “boom”. 
The best possible wave for a long board is one which slowly builds up and is easy to ride down. Riding a long board is not about a lot of radical turns, but about “playing” with the wave and foot placement on the board, e.g. walking up and down on the board.
Long boards are the biggest volume boards available and will therefore provide you with most flotation. Flotation is important when it comes to paddling for a wave and the speed you will be able to build up. You will probably think that a long board will be perfect for you as a beginner; however there are at least two reasons why it is not:
Firstly: The downside of having high flotation is the flexibility of the board is limited and executing turns is more difficult. Secondly: Handling a long board is not easy. Beginners don´t know how to treat the board correctly, both in and also out of the water. It is a big board and is difficult  to deal with, especially in difficult weather conditions.  
A long board is best  for:
  • Surf spots with small and weak waves
  • Surfing in an elegant and relaxing style
  • Surfing in slowly breaking waves

You will have to pay around 800-1200€ for a good long board; however there is no price limit. 

 

Mini-Malibu

707118f8ed Surfboard Typen

Mini-Malibus are a little bit shorter than long boards (app. 7´6“) and have one or three fins. You could call them “the little brother“ of the long board. There are no significant differences between the Malibu and the Mini-Malibu, except that all the proportions of the latter are slightly smaller. Malibus are boards greater than 8 ft in length, whereas Mini- Malibus are usually around 7ft.
Mini-Malibus have a round nose and very little rocker (Arch towards the nose). Their volume means  they are easy to glide on and offer a good amount of stability.  They are ideal for beginners.  The Mini-Malibu is harder to manoeuvre compared with a short board; to do so means  learning the correct body placement and  weight distribution, which in itself gives an important feel for surfing technique
Taking account of all factors – paddling, turning and handling etc – the Mini-Malibu is recommended as the best beginner’s board. Just because beginners use the Mini-Malibu doesn´t mean that advanced surfers do not enjoy using one. More experienced surfers can extract the maximum out of this board even on  waves under 3 ft. 
The costs for a Mini-Malibu are between 200-500€, depending on the construction of the board. A polyester board from BIC, NSP, TABU or HiFly will cost around 300€, whereas handcrafted boards will naturally cost more. 
The Mini-Malibu is suitable for:
  • Surfing small to average sized waves
  • Beginners to intermediates wanting to enjoy their own surf experience
  • Experienced surfers wanting to have fun even in smaller waves

 

Fish (Retro und New School)

Fish Surfboard Typen

The fish is a board which is more suitable for smaller waves and measures between 5´5“-6´4“length. It has little rocker and much more volume than the classic short board. The swallow-tail is quite flexible and fast & also handles steep waves. The fish can also be used in slightly bigger waves by increasing the size of the fins. It would be a good choice for anyone looking to improve, but who is not yet ready for a short board.

Retro Fish

Retro Fish boards are extremely short, but quite wide and thick, with a round nose and a wide fish-tail. They make it possible to catch waves easily due to the high volume in comparison with a short board. Radical turns on the wave as well as calmly surfing down-the-line will be no problem. Retro Fish boards are not suitable for beginners! (Due to the small size of just 6’2”max). Retro Fish boards are not easy to paddle or easy to use during take-off. Because of the flat rocker line, there is a danger that the nose will dip into the water during take-off.

New-School-Fish oder Performance Fish

This board type has more rocker, is thinner and longer. One could say that it is a short board which is simply a bit wider and thicker with a fish-tail. For this reason, beginners, as well as surfers who have surfed a Malibu previously, should not use this type of board, with the exception of a long fish board which measures app. > 6’7”. For experienced short board surfers, we recommend short fish boards in smaller and less powerful waves.

 

Funboard, Evolution, Hybrid

Funboard Surfboard Typen

A fun board measures around 6´8“ to 7´6“ long, 21–22“ wide and 2½“to 3½“ in thickness and can be compared with a long board in terms of shape; however it is influenced strongly by the short board as well. Because of the difference in length, it would be wise to change from a Malibu to a Hybrid-Shape (also called Evolution or Fun board) before using a short board.
Several influences from the short board can be found, e.g. in the slightly sharper nose as well as in the rocker. These attributes allow the board to turn and push more easily. Another characteristic would be the length of the board as it is about 1 ft smaller than the Mini-Malibu. The usage of a fun board is therefore the optimum way to slowly make your way to a short board without making life too difficult.
A fun board usually has three fins and is not only smaller but also lighter to carry than a Mini-Malibu. Transportation is therefore a lot easier. It is stable and easy to paddle. In addition it facilitates a smooth and calm surf style with manoeuvres.
A fun board is suitable for:
  • Intermediate surfers who wish to surf on a transportable board
  • Intermediate surfers who wish to catch waves without a lot of paddling & who wish to enjoy themselves in small waves as well
  • Tall and heavy surfers

The fun board is for surfers who have little time to go surfing and who want to make the most of it! The fun factor has priority in this case rather than the aim to surf on a short board one day!

 

Egg

Egg-Shapes are similar to Hybrid-Shapes. There is not much difference in terms of length which makes them suitable for surfers who wish to change their board type. In comparison to the Hybrid-Shape, the Egg is often a little bit shorter, but with a rounder nose. Eggs are especially suitable for lighter surfers and are often chosen by women and children

 

Shortboard

Shortboard Surfboard Typen

It is a long learning curve before beginners finally become able to surf on a short board. We recommend slowly making the way down from a Malibu or a Fun board to a Fish-Shape board and then a short board. There is no other surf board type with so many variations than the short board.
A typical short board measures between 5´8“– 6´8“in length and carries a square, round or swallow tail. Short boards are designed for making radical and fast turns rather than slowly surfing down waves like you would do with a long board. Most people are fascinated by short boards and they are probably the only boards they know about when asked. The development of the short board has been influenced by skateboards, which also explains the design and the perceived element of ‘attack’. They have a sharp arched nose in order to adapt to the form of the wave. More manoeuvrability and different variations of the tail and the bottom are also attributes of the short boards, besides easy transportation. Short boards are also lighter, with less volume than other boards. These characteristics require you to constantly move and change position when surfing. This is why short boards are not boards beginners, as they demand a lot of experience and fitness. Before changing from a Malibu to a short board, you should consider trying other shapes (e.g. a fun board) first.
Duck diving is a technique by which surfers dive under the surface of waves to avoid being smashed back to the shore when a wave over app. 2ft. approaches. This manoeuvre became possible with the help of a short board. Surfers generally own more than one short board, each carrying different attributes which can be helpful in different wave types. To surf on a short board not only requires a certain amount of experience and knowledge but furthermore fitness, enough time to practice and a good amount of the right motivation & self confidence.
To buy a new short board in Europe will cost around 400-600€. But depending on the material it can also cost a lot more. Purchasing a short board in places like Australia or South Africa can be slightly cheaper (around 300€ depending upon the exchange rate). 

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