What Are The Different Types Of Surfboards You Can Surf?
There are many types of surfboards with all kinds of different measurements too. The surfer’s level of surfing, ability to balance, height, and weight will come in to determine which type of board to ride as well as the dimensions. We will go over the different types of surfboards and who will most likely surf witch type. We will also talk about the length, width, and depth of a surfboard.
There are 9 common types of surfboards. We will talk about these nine types which include shortboards, longboards, foam boards (also called soft tops), fun boards, Malibu (also called Mini Mal), bodyboard, fish, gun, paddle boards (also called SUP).
Let’s start with dimensions; these will greatly affect the surfer’s performance. The modern surfboards now a day are coated with fiberglass or epoxy to make the board light, strong, and fast.
Length: this is how long the surfboard actually is. This is very important to know. Usually, when you start, it is better to use a longer board. The longer it is, the easier it is to paddle and stand up on your feet since it will be more stable due to a bigger surface area.
Width: the width of a surfboard defines how stable it is and its ease of control. Just like the length, the wider it is the more stable your surfboard will be.
Depth: the depth, also called thickness determines how well the surfboard floats. The thicker it is, the more floatation there is, the smoother it will be to ride and easier to paddle. As you can already imagine, the bigger the person is, the thicker the surfboard should be for them.
Types of surfboards
Shortboard Thruster: This surfboard is the most common board used in competitions. It sacrifices the easiness of paddling for the speed, power, and flow once on the wave. They are generally between 5’3 to about 6’4 in length and 14-19″ in width, generally with a squared tail. This is made for the more advanced surfer.
Fish: This board is a little wider, rounder nose, and wider mid-section than a surfboard. It ranges from 5’2 to 6’4 and the tail is a swallowtail. The width of a fish ranges approximately from 18-22″. Designed to improve paddling capability while keeping the speed and power for maneuvers. They are great for small to medium sized waves.
Funboard: It ranges from 6’6 to 8′ long and 20-22″ wide. The fun board combines the paddling power of a longboard and the turning ability of a shortboard. Great for all conditions and work well for less experienced surfers.
Malibu/ Mini-Mal: this board has very similar characteristics than a longboard in shape and riding abilities. It is a little shorter in length, not as wide board and tail for sharper turns. You may hear the term Mini-Mal which is exactly what it sounds like, a little shorter than a Malibu. This board usually has one big fin or 3 smaller fins.
Longboard: The longboard is just what it sounds like a long surfboard. Ranging from 9′-12′ in length with a rounder nose. Also called a log or cruiser. Longboards are more stable on the water, easier to paddle which is ideal for catching waves, making them ideal to learn how to surf on. However, because of their length, they might be hard to carry and go over the whitewater from the waves coming at you. There is a lot of different riding styles that come with a longboard. It is very hard to do radical sharp turns and air on a longboard compared to a shortboard, but on a longboard you can cross step along the board, hang five or ten, drop knee turns and even tandem surfing! Tandem surfing means that you are more than one person surfing the longboard.
Gun: The gun is long, narrow, and pointy at the nose and tail (pin tail) for lots of rail to rail maneuvers. This type of surfboard is made for big waves and powerful steep waves. They range from 6’6 to 10′ long. With this shape, they are made for speed, control in any big wave as paddling is made easier due to the dimensions. The term gun comes from the term “elephant gun” and means it is the surfer’s big gun to hunt big waves and giant surf.
Foamboard-Soft Top: The foam board is exactly what the term is, a foam surfboard. It is not made with epoxy or fiberglass which makes the top of the surfboard very soft, which means it is less likely to hurt yourself or somebody else with this board. Designed for inexperienced surfers who are just starting out. Since the foam boards are designed for beginners, they are easier to paddle, very stable on the water, and much easier to stand up on. Another term for a foam board is foamy, or soft top.
Bodyboard: Also known as a boogie board. The bodyboard is technically a foam board but way shorter. It usually has no fins, but some have 2 tiny side fins. We all played on a bodyboard before when we were kids, and most surfers technically started to surf on a bodyboard when little. They have more of a rectangular shape and can be very inexpensive. Great for families and a lot of fun.
When a beginner you should ALWAYS start on a foam board. Once you feel more comfortable and confident on that board, then move to a longboard, then a Malibu, then twin, and finally the shortboard. If you ever want to surf HUGE waves, you might consider the gun but honestly, those waves are HUGEEEE and very scary. The biggest wave surfed is 80ft in height, imagine a three-story building collapsing behind you… No thanks!
Before you get out there you need to make sure you have your fins on the right way, leash attached to you and your surfboard and wax on top of the board. To learn how to wax your board check out this video and my last article.
So there you have it, all of the common surfboard types that you will hear about when studying the sport. I hope this gives you an idea of which board would suit you better and what would be easier to start on as well. See you in the lineup!