There really never has been a better time to buy a surfboard, in this article we look at what you need to keep in mind when choosing a surfboard. Over the last 10 years at least, shapers and designers have acknowledged that we are not all surfing at the performance levels of Ms Gillmor or Mr Slater and that many of us are approaching the age group of the latter or beyond. So boards have come to reflect this and cater for a far wider range of abilities but still incorporating the latest improvements in design and materials.

But what design features actually make up a surfboard?

What should we be looking at when choosing a new board? Let’s look at some absolute basics that often get over looked.

The Rocker

That’s the over curve that runs down the board. The “banana likeness “of the board as it were and it’s vital that it’s right for you.  If it looks like Aladdin’s shoes or to the other extreme, your Mum’s ironing board then avoid it like the plague. We generally use a 3 stage rocker these days, curve or lift in the nose, flatter in the middle, curve or lift in the tail. Simple, but effective, for the board’s most important feature.


That’s the general outline of the board or what we call the plan shape. Generally outlines have all got “fuller” of late meaning there is a bit more width in the board and midpoint, nose and tail. That’s good for you for more wave catching ability and an easier turning capability.


Hurray for volume. Finally after years of surfers and board builders avoiding the basic science of volume, that’s how many cubic litres, are in each board, volume awareness is cool.  You can use volume calculators like those found on the Fire Wire or Rusty web sites. Be honest please when it asks you your ability level. Of course you will be.

Bottoms (bottom of the board  … honestly)

As we all know there’s nothing nicer than a well shaped bottom! Find out on design sites or links like (LINK TO MY BOARD DESIGN TALK   )  … about how they work. If its vee bottoms you like or concave bottoms or a combination of the both. You’ll find these days there are some great bottom shapes that keep you and the board lively.

Rails (the bits at the side)

People think the fins keep you in the wave. They don’t, they just add directional control. It’s the rails that do the real work. If you’re getting a good quality board the rails should be fine but cheap and cheerful boards can leave you with non functional rails and a non functioning board.


The unsung hero is the deck .We jump on it, lie on it, it’s our prime contact with board. Keep it flattish not a “dome deck” and below 7’6” in length, get a deck grip on it ..


Fins just aint what they used to be. But it’s a minefield of tech that’s often not needed by most surfers. Ride what the designer put in the board unless it’s a cheap plastic set and in that case do upgrade. If the boards worth it! A new set of fins is nice if their right ones but don’t change a good set till you know the board. Its time in the water that’ll really improve your surfing.

Know your measurements

Check on YouTube for “how to measure your surfboard” and keep the dimensions written down in your phone. We need to know where we have been, not just where we are going.  Write down volumes if possible too.


So keep it simple when choosing. Hire before buy if you can, borrow your mate’s boards and just try try and try. Longboard, mid range, egg and short board, soft boards.. Try them all if you want. But only buy when you know they work for you… regularly, not just one wave.

Buy a tape measure but don’t become a board geek please. Do try to avoid thinking the strange and radical will offer sudden changes to your ability too. Then, when you’re good and ready, make your own! From sustainable resources, of course.