Short Boards are Bad (learners!)
A lot of beginners rush to buy smaller boards after only a short time in the water. It’s a strange phenomenon – we don’t learn to drive in supercars or learn to ride on racing bikes – but in surfing we try to skip the ‘L plates’ and training wheels.
Some people buy short boards to look cool (I was one of those), others think they’ll suddenly be better surfers.
While shorter boards allow pro surfers to make those critical turns and look like water deities, it has the opposite effect for learners.
Buying your first board? Go big!
Generally speaking, the more volume a board has the better it is to learn on.
Important note: volume is the key word. Not necessarily length. For example, a board can be short and still have a lot of volume if it’s thick and wide.
More volume means more water displaced, which means more stability.
A more voluminous board gives you a much better chance of learning proper technique, improving more quickly and having more fun. If anything, they’re damned easy to paddle, so you’ll catch more waves. You’ll surf more. You’ll surf more! Did you hear that? Surf. More. If that doesn’t entice you, why are you here?!
I’m a beginner, should I just buy a short board anyway?
Let’s cut to the chase here. If you’ve seen a short board you like the look of, it’s going to be hard for anyone to talk you out of it (I know because I’ve been there. And yes, I bought the board. 4 years on I still havent surfed it). But I’ll still give it a go.
The premature short board thing is a strange phenomenon.
Would you walk out into the middle of a packed gym to try your first backflip? Take up tightrope walking 100ft high? Learn to snowboard by launching yourself down a black run? Choose an iron-man for your first triathlon?
No. Obviously not. You’d start small. You’d practice. You’d give yourself a fighting chance.
Are you too cool to surf?
Are we so affected by surf media that we’ll hinder our performance in attempts to look cooler?
For anyone worried about “looking cool”, which option sounds better: a) flapping around on a board too small for your ability, missing waves and getting knackered out or b) cruising along the line on a longer board?
There’s a name sometimes given to people who pose on the beach with gear beyond their ability: “Land Sharks”.
Why earn a name like that when you can be focussing on your own game and enjoying the buzz of catching another wave?
Seriously, get a big fat board!
In surfing, your fighting chance is the foamie.
One of the easiest ways to kill your confidence and enjoyment of surfing is burning out. Don’t make the early stages more difficult for yourself by clamoring to get off the “starter” gear. Get a nice, big, fat foam board and get out in the water.
Most surf schools around the world use them, and for good reason. Aside from being much safer (for you and others in the water) they’re easier to catch waves on. They allow you to walk before you try to run.
Take your time, get to know the sport. When it’s time to start trying out other boards, you’ll know it!