What to Expect Buying a Short Surf Board


When I teach Oceanside surf lessons, my students start on a high volume soft top board. These 8′ boards work best for students who weigh under 200 pounds. Students that SurfPictures6.28-0211-300x225weigh more will have an easier time with a longer board, but once surfing can use the 8′ soft top.

The advantage of a high volume board is it is easier to paddle. This is the first big difference surfers notice when moving to shorter boards. The lower the volume, the more difficult to paddle. The more difficult to paddle, the quicker the fatigue. As soon as you are fatigued, your session is over. A student that surfs for an hour with a soft top might surf for 20 minutes with a short board.

The second thing a student notices is that the short board needs more wave power to take off. This means you have to catch the wave as it arcs higher than if you were on a soft top or long board. This, of course, means that you are taking the wave later.

The third thing students notice is there is less stability when you take off. It is like the board is squirrelly because it is harder to control. The higher the volume, the more stable a board is after the pop up.

There are two real types of soft boards. One is the highly maneuverable pointed nose, narrow 19″ and under, thin at 2 5/8″ and under, and shorter than 6’10”. The smarter board for the new short boarder is to retain the width and thickness of the more high volume boards. You can buy a fish or short board that is 21+” wide and 2 3/4″ thick.

Like I would do even on a soft top, you paddle way inside the wave before it breaks and as it gets closer you paddle hard to take off under the lip. No paddling over the top as so many beginners learn to do with high volume boards.

You should also step down in length slowly. Maintain the high volume width and thickness and drop down no more than 6″ to 12″ at a time in length. Once you have acclimated to the paddling and stability, you can consider moving to narrower and thinner.

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