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Surfboards
Choice of equipment is critical for your progression throughout all levels within your surfing. What you see people doing or riding may not be the sensible choice, besides it can be dangerous to use the wrong equipment as a novice. Surfing is not about looks, it’s about a lifestyle and having fun with likeminded people. Don’t try to be something you are not, lose your ego as soon as you feel the sand between your toes and do what makes you happy with responsibility, awareness for others, and if you’re having fun you are the truest surfer of them all!
There are many boards to dazzle you but the one you should consider as an absolute first timer is the Softboard. These are made out of a rigid foam interior, often with a central strut or stringer down the middle to give strength, coated in a soft foam exterior, some also have semi rigid plastic bases. They come in different sizes according to how big you are, normally from six to nine feet in length. The average adult would get on fine with an eight foot softboard. These are superb fun since they are very buoyant, easy to handle and don’t hurt in a crash! They are limited in bigger waves and don’t turn as fast when you get to more advanced levels.
Spend your time getting to grips with the new sport on this board and when you are fully comfortable standing, turning and even catching small unbroken waves it is time to try something new. Don’t forget there are no time limits to this sport and it may take a while even to get to this level, different people learn at different speeds. Great coaching can boost these stages. Relax and enjoy the ride!
The next stage would be to try something a little faster and more manoeuvrable. A fibreglass board, or custom board, with plenty of buoyancy is the next port of call. There are many available the most common of which is the Mini-Mal or Mini Malibu. These range from seven foot up to nine foot as a rough guide and come in a variety of shapes, widths and thicknesses. Ask a coach or shop assistant for good advice and most of them will guide you in the right direction if you are honest about your ability. At this level it takes some getting used to these boards and you may find that your progression slows a little, this is normal. Get plenty of water time in and work on going out to catch the unbroken waves, and then make your turns similarly at first to those you did back in the white water.
It may take a whole season to get proficient on your board, and that’s getting in on a regular basis!
After some time and when you feel like tackling larger waves and ripping fast aggressive turns it is time to consider something a little smaller, or if you are developing a mellow cruisy style maybe you should try a Longboard. Shortboards are generally anything less than seven feet in length and Longboards are all those over nine foot long. Again you should choose according to your physical shape since all these boards can be made with different thicknesses or widths to give more or less buoyancy and perform differently in certain conditions.
As a general rule; Longer boards have greater buoyancy, a more drawn out turn, and paddle faster into waves. They are much harder to get through bigger waves on the way out. Shorter boards sink more in the water, are a little more unstable and slower to paddle, but very manoeuvrable, navigating under the waves on a paddle out with greater ease.
Remember be patient with your adventure into surfing and choose your equipment according to your ability then you will progress quickly.
We have talked about the main types of board you should consider as a novice. Beyond this there are a huge range of materials, shapes and sizes to play on, and nowadays its getting even more experimental. It’s a good idea to try out what works best for you before you commit to any one type. Consider your style and what sort of thing you like to do best in the wave.
Custom boards are made from polyurethane foam blanks which are shaped by hand, then covered in fibreglass cloth and finally coated with an epoxy resin which sets hard and smooth keeping water out, protecting the innards. They can thus be pre-ordered and built to your specifications and taste with different colours, patterns and graphics. These boards are relatively lightweight but can be dented or ‘dinged’ easily. The longer the board the more expensive it is. A new Longboard may cost around five hundred big ones, Shortboards and Minimals about two fifty to three hundred pounds respectively. If you look after your board that puppy should last a good few years.
To surf a custom board requires wax on the deck to enable your feet to stick, or you can buy stomp pads to stick on. Rub the wax on a cold deck in circular motions where your feet like to hang out, and build up the layers until humps start to visibly form, lovely! Refresh your wax job when it starts to get hard and dirty by leaving it in the sun, then scrape it off with a wax comb to get a clean surface ready for re-coating.
Moulded Surfboards are made in a mould and easier to produce en-mass. Although in general they are heavier, nowadays a revolution is occurring in that they are getting more buoyant than some custom boards and not as heavy as they used to be with the use of modern plastics. These boards are thought to be more resilient since being made from stronger materials.

Basic pop outs can be made low tech and have a durable life for a relatively low cost of around one hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds. The high end boards are less durable and more expensive but have exciting characteristics, often floating higher in the water, giving them a looser feeling.

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