Surfers are known for being chill, go-with-the-flow people who know how to ride the waves of life, but they can be passionate about their surfboards. They want as many as they can afford. However, how many surfboards do you really need?
A beginner surfer should only need a single soft-top longboard. More experienced surfers recommend keeping four boards. These should be a favorite board and a duplicate in case the first one is damaged, and then two additional boards that are appropriate for local waves.
However, many other experienced surfers will say that the right number of boards is whatever feels right. Keep reading below to learn more about surfboards and how to store them.
How Many Different Surfboard Types are There?
The first step to knowing how many surfboards you should buy is knowing what the options are! Different surfboards are good for different needs and different waves. This is one of the reasons that surfers tend to collect several kinds of boards. You can use a shortboard for days with small waves and you have lots of motivation, longboards for days with lots of options, and a gun if you’re looking to take your surfing to the ambitious level.
Remember that all of these boards come in different shapes and materials.
It might surprise you to know that longboards are the most manageable kind of surfboard and by far the best purchase for beginners. This is because of, not in spite of, their large size!
The size, weight, and volume of these big boards allow new surfboarders to have more control, stay with their boards, and catch waves more easily. It also helps surfers conserve energy, as they don’t have to swim as often or as far.
Even experienced surfers tend to have at least one or two longboards in their homes because these boards are great for surfing nearly anywhere. Longboards are perfect for a chill day of no-stress surfing.
Longboards are the closest design to the original Hawaiian surfboards, which were long planks of wood. They do come in wood, but synthetic materials are usually the most popular at the moment.
Shortboards are the board most often used in competitions since their smaller size allows for more acrobatic stunts. They are smaller, lighter, extremely maneuverable, and give you a lot of control when you know how to use them.
The downside is that you have to know how to use them. These boards are menaces to learn on, which is why they’re not recommended for beginners. Any new surfer trying to learn on this type of board is more likely to get frustrated than progress.
Many surfers that have a little more experience end up getting a shortboard. This allows them to ride more adventurous waves, go after smaller waves, and level up their surfing technique. If someone is struggling to transition from a longboard to a shortboard, they can use a funboard as a stepping stone.
If you’re looking for more adrenaline and stunt potential than a longboard can offer, but fewer bruises and less frustration than a shortboard can give you, you might want to look into a funboard. These boards are true to the name, and they’re a lot of fun!
The design walks the middle ground between shortboards and longboards. They’re a medium size with lots of shapes available, offering some of a longboard’s stability with some of a shortboard’s maneuverability. They’re made to be easy to use.
If you’re struggling to transition from a longboard to a shortboard, give a funboard a try. You might like it so much that it becomes your board of choice!
Fish surfboards have a fun, quirky, retro kind of vibe, and they are ideal for fast reef breaks and poor-quality surf. They’re not at the same competitive level as shortboards, so they’re lower pressure, too.
Fish boards offer thicker material, a wide base, and a flatter rocker, which means they’re nice to paddle and pick up a lot of speed. This means they will pick up mushy waves and can keep going on small, weak surf.
People who love fish boards are similar to people who love quirky car shapes. Sure, there are other boards that can do a lot of what they do, but these people love their fish boards and they are sticking with it. The only limits when using a fish board are your imagination.
I do not advise purchasing a gun surfboard if you are a beginner surfer. Gun surfboards are for extremely experienced, motivated, fit, adrenaline-chasing surfers who want to ride the biggest waves available.
Guns are up to 7-12′ in length, strong, and shaped to be able to ride massive waves. These performance-based monster boards are meant to handle huge drops from high on waves. Some smaller mini-guns have more maneuverability, but their core task and build are the same.
For more context, surfers who ride guns and chase these waves are called “hell men.” If you have dreams of becoming one of these surfers someday, make sure that you have the experience and physique you need. Don’t put your life or the lives of others in danger by trying to take one of these boards out on a giant wave before you’re completely ready.
What Materials Do Surfboards Use?
Surfboards come in a limited variety of materials, which makes choices easier.
Wood is growing in popularity for the environmentally-conscious crowd. They’re also cool because of the tie-ins to traditional surfing, back when native Hawaiian populations would surf on giant wooden planks from the surf to the shore.
Wood planks are durable, and a well-maintained board can last so long it becomes part of your inheritance. Their natural grain and beauty make every board unique.
They are also more expensive and very heavy, so they’re not meant for acrobatic stunts or cool tricks. If you have a wooden board, you’ll be limited in what you can do.
Soft-top boards are a beginner’s best friend since they’re lighter, less dense, and less likely to do physical damage if/when someone gets whacked in the head with one. They are stable and require little maintenance. Best of all, they’re usually relatively cheap and more accessible to new surfers!
Oftentimes, they are the best boards for beginner surfers to use. However, soft-top boards are becoming sturdy enough that experienced surfers are often buying some for themselves.
These surfboards were once all the rage, but that was back in the 1940s and ’50s after WWII. Their competition was wood. They’re still fairly popular now, but they’re definitely losing some ground to other kinds of boards.
The materials are cheaper than other kinds of board and they’re fairly easy to work with, so they are still a great choice for an affordable hand-shaped board. They’re also a little heavier, which can give you a smoother ride. The flexibility makes them easier to damage, but they are easy to repair.
Overall, there are several reasons why these boards are still being used to ride the waves today.
Epoxy boards are easy to find, hard to break, light enough for beginners, and fairly inexpensive. They’ve been around almost as long as poly boards, but had to wait for the manufacturing breakdown of big poly board manufacturers before they got their share of the attention.
Poly boards are good for beginners and intermediate-beginners, or people who just want to have fun without stress, because they’re light enough to catch a wide variety of waves. Even advanced surfers like to have an epoxy board in their quiver so they can catch the tiny waves on slow days.
If a surfer needs one board that will last a while, the durability and repairability of an Epoxy board is a pretty good deal.
How Many Surfboards Do Most Surfers Have?
Most surfers end up owning at least two boards. This allows them to keep surfing if one board is damaged or being repaired, and can give them more options for waves if the two boards are different.
That “at least” is very, very limited. Surfers on discussion forums joke that buying boards is almost addictive for someone with ready access to surf and enough time to enjoy them, since different boards are great for different waves, and duplicates are a great idea for often-used boards.
What Should a Beginner Buy?
Surfers across the internet and the world agree that a beginning surfer will have the most fun, least trouble, and safest experience with a Soft-Top Longboard. The soft-top longboard isn’t the most maneuverable board on the market, but it will be easy enough to get onto the waves so a new surfer can learn.
It also offers more safety than some other kinds of board. Falling on the foam of a soft-top will be easier on a new surfer’s knees and arms, it won’t do as much damage if somebody bangs their head on it, it’s buoyant enough to let a new surfer rest if they’re getting tired, and it’s hard to get into trouble with it. There also aren’t usually pointy bits on a longboard like you’d find on a fish or gun.
New surfers will also appreciate how little maintenance a Soft-Top surfboard needs. They’ll be able to focus on learning how to surf without having to learn how to wax their boards, find a dent repair shop, or avoid splinters.
One tip for new surfers is to buy a board that has a tether attached! If and when your board gets away from you or you get stuck in a current, you’ll want your board nearby. Not only does this allow it to be used as an emergency flotation device, but it also keeps it from escaping down the surf.
Plus, it saves you the embarrassment of having to chase down your board on the beach every time it gets away from you.
Will a Surfboard Deteriorate If Not Used?
If you’ve cared for your surfboard and stored it properly, your surfboard should be fine in long-term storage. Any risk of damage comes from improper maintenance or preparation before it was stored. If you took care of it, cleaned it well, and stored it carefully, damage or yellowing that occurs will just be the result of age.
Unfortunately, nothing can stop a surfboard from aging. Yellowing, cracking, and bleaching are all a natural eventual result of a well-used board. Dings and dents are also inevitable when a board is used, although they will hopefully be the result of a great day surfing and not from somebody dropping it in the parking lot.
Proper surfboard maintenance is the first key to storage. They need to be moved carefully so no damage occurs to the fins, nose, or ends, and they need to have the wax stripped off.
Every surfboard needs to be rinsed with fresh water after surfing. This needs to happen every time, with no exceptions. Yes, surfboards are meant to be used in saltwater, but saltwater is corrosive and can do damage if not cleaned from a surfboard before it is stored.
Surfboards need to be stored in a cool enough place that they won’t get warped or bubbly from the heat. While a lot of the damage occurring from heat can be repaired, it’s still a hassle to repair and can leave evidence of damage on the body of the surfboard. It won’t kill the board, but it will annoy you every time you use it.
Surfboards also need to be stored away from UV light as it can cause a lot of that yellowing and damage that surfers hate to see on their boards. Just like you’d use reef-safe sunscreen to avoid getting skin damage, your board needs relief from the sun at the end of a long day.
Finally, make sure your surfboards are securely stored. Nobody wants to see their board on the ground when it used to be on the wall. Keep it safe, keep it stable, and you can look forward to another day at the beach soon.