To surf you must first be able to catch the wave. This is easiest when on a surfboard that is right for your skill level, size and water conditions. Longboards are wider, longer and give you more stability, making it easier to catch the wave. This makes choosing a longboard an easier choice for learning to surf. Determination, practice and the right board will help you catch waves and learn the art of surfing.
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Your height, weight, athletic ability and your commitment will determine what board is right for you. Typical beginner boards are more than 9 feet long, approximately 24 inches wide and more than 3 inches thick. When selecting a board, consider the length, thickness and width. Bigger boards make it easier to catch waves. Longer, wider, thicker boards are easier to paddle, more stable but slower to turn. Shorter, thinner boards are much more difficult to paddle and are quicker to turn. Not all longboards are appropriate for beginners. Longboards that are performance boards will be thinner and will have a greater rocker. These boards will be easier to turn but harder to paddle.
Foam and Soft-Top Longboards
Soft-top and foam surfboards are excellent choices for beginners. Foam boards are made from soft, compressed foam and have flexible fins, soft rails and a smooth bottom. When first learning and falling, you will have less of a chance of being injured by the board if it is soft. Foam boards are perfect for riding white water and waves with small faces; as the wave size grows, the board will become slow and unresponsive in turns. A soft-top board is a hybrid between a foam board and a fiberglass hard surfboard. The deck, which is the top of the board, is foam, and the bottom is fiberglass or epoxy. The board bottom and fin setup are higher performance but still possess the same stability and paddling ease of a foam board. The fin setup is typically two plus one: two small side bites with a larger center fin that are interchangeable. These boards are not as forgiving if struck while surfing due to the hard rails and fins.
Fiberglass and Epoxy Longboards
For the advanced beginner, there are hand-shaped hard boards available. Some beginners will have a steep learning curve with a hard board due to paddling and stability. A hard longboard is heavier, hard and unforgiving and can hurt when it hits. Hard boards are made of either fiberglass or epoxy. Fiberglass surfboards are made from polyurethane foam blank covered in fiberglass, making the board heavier and fragile. Epoxy surfboards use an expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam blank covered in epoxy glass, making the board lighter, more buoyant and durable.