EZ Sliding Over the Waves
What are the Best Surfboard Types? Soft top surfboard for a beginner? If you have ever seen a surfer slide over the waves, you may have thought to give it a try. The journey to becoming a competent surfer is fraught with challenge and frustration. There are many surfboard types, and choosing the right one is essential as a beginner. Selecting the right equipment will help you crush the difficult learning curve. We’ll help you find the best type of surfboard for beginners are foam surfboards aka soft surfboards. Check out the best foam surfboards for beginners.
Surfing is popular
Surfing is a growing activity that has taken the world by storm. This trend is only going to accelerate in popularity with the addition of surfing to the Olympics in 2021.
Every individual surfboard is different, and there is a startling amount of variety when it comes to surfboard types. Many different kinds of materials make up your everyday surfboard.
The diversity among surfboards doesn’t end with their material composition alone. There are also many different surfboard shapes, sizes, and fin-set up’s to choose from.
Advanced surfers can mix-and-match different styled fins made of different materials. Fins come in unique sizes as well. They can also add accessories such as stomp pads or adhesive traction grip to their boards. There is an endless combination of different accessories and boards that a surfer can create once they get down the line far enough in their surfing journey.
A Quiver of Surfboards?
A quiver is an individual surfer’s functional collection of surfboards. Surfers will spend their entire lives in a futile attempt to round-out their quiver. A well-rounded quiver includes surfboards of different sizes, shapes, and materials. Each different surfboard has its own specific function for different types of waves. As any long-term frothing surf-addict will tell you, this often leads to a garage stacked full of surfboards from yesteryear. Each board has its own function and story. Some are yellow and cracked but kept for strict sentimental value.
What are Surfboards Made Of?
The first factor to focus on when analyzing different types of surfboards is material composition. This as well as the surfboard’s shape, and length influence its performance.
The big three when it comes to surfboard composition are polyurethane (PU), polystyrene (PS), and expanded polystyrene (EPS). These materials are in reference to the blank which the surfboard shaper molds to create the basic shape of the surfboard.
In addition to the blank, there are different types of materials that can be used to “glass” a surfboard and create a shell around the blank. Most often shapers coat fiberglass cloth in resin and apply it to the blank after the shaping process. These are generally referred to as hard surfboards.
Hard surfboard’s most common types of shell resin used are polyester (PE) resin, polyurethane (PU) resin, and epoxy resin used on EPS foam surfboard core blanks. Different types of resin coat specific types of blanks and the right combo can make or break a surfboard.
The technicalities of surfboard material construction are best left to the surfboard shaper, but each of the different surfboard type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to performance and function.
Poly surfboards are shaped from polyurethane or polystyrene blanks and glassed using either polyester or polyurethane resin. They are a more traditional form of surfboard materials. These are the surfboards professionals ride in surf contests. They are also common for more advanced recreational surfers. They are not usually the best choice for beginner surfers. Hard polyester surfboards are more likely to cause injury than a soft surfboard or foam surfboard.
Poly boards have many advantages for high-performance surfers. They also cater to intermediate and beginners who are ready to take the next step.
1. Cheaper than epoxy
2. Cut through the water well (less floaty than epoxy)
3. Hold rail better
4. Heavier (good for windy or bumpy surface conditions)
5. Good for tube riding
6. Better for advanced surfers under high-performance conditions
7. Easy to repair
These are not all the pros associated with poly surfboards. They do however explain a lot of the positives aspects of choosing this type of surfboard.
Despite all of the advantages, there are a few drawbacks to this type of surfboard as well. Most have to do with durability and toxicity towards the environment.
Less durable than epoxy
Bad for the environment (production and disposal)
U.V. light yellows resin
Pressure dings form easier
These are a few of the cons associated with poly boards. Individual surfers may have additional personal opinions.
Epoxy boards refer to boards with polystyrene or expanded polystyrene blanks that are glassed with epoxy resin. Epoxy boards can’t have a polyurethane blank due to the caustic nature of epoxy resin when they mix. Epoxy surfboards are hard. like polyester surfboards and are more likely to cause injury than a soft surfboard or foam surfboard.
Epoxy boards are a durable alternative to poly boards. They also can produce a different surfing experience for the user. Some surfers prefer them for the following reasons.
Faster (if ocean surface is clean)
More eco-conscious (production and disposal)
Many surfers like epoxy boards for the unique way they ride. Their durability is also a major factor in why these types of boards are so popular.
These types of boards also have their fair share of limitations. Most of them have to do with performance and expense.
Worse performance in choppy conditions
Less fine-tuned feeling for performance (up to the individual’s opinion)
More potential for injury if impact occurs with the rider
Expensive and hard to repair
Epoxy boards are not for everyone. They also may not be ideal for all ocean conditions. Much of this has to do with personal opinion.
Best Type of Soft Top Surfboard for a Beginner
The absolute best surfboards for beginners are soft top surfboards. Also, known as Foam Surfboards Most often, these surfboards are constructed in a similar fashion as poly or epoxy boards but have an added layer of soft foam on the top deck and a slick plastic bottom.
EPS blanks are most often used for the core of soft top surfboards. Also, soft top surfboards have a variety of additional features that make them ideal for beginner surfers.
This includes things like soft foam and soft plastic fins to reduce injury, rounded nose and tail sections, and increased durability.
They tend to be more voluminous making them easier to ride and learn on for beginners. This makes them a favorite for surf schools around the world. Soft tops are also great for having fun, regardless of your skill level.
Even the professionals like will take their foam surfboard type out for a firing 6-8 foot day at the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii. More mortal advanced surfers can also be caught taking to the foamie on smaller wave days to mix things up. SEE liquid Shredder Surfing Video
The advantages of soft tops are more geared towards beginners. That being said, many of their advantages also extend to all levels of surfer.
Easier for beginners to ride
Design features keep beginners safe
Good for smaller days
Can be made into high-performance shapes
Wax may not be necessary
Great to learn on
Every surfer should have a soft top in their quiver due to their versatility and ride-ability. They are also great for mellow days at the beach with friends.
Soft foam surfboards do have some disadvantages as well. Most of these have to do with them being designed to meet the needs of beginners instead of high-performance oriented surfing.
Not ideal for huge waves (although are functional)
Advanced surfers may want something else
Although some surfers ride soft tops at top big-wave breaks such as Waimea Bay and Pipeline, this is the exception rather than the rule. It is not advisable to push your equipment past its recommended range of use.
Surfboard Shapes and Sizes
A surfboard’s shape and size can influence its function and performance. Things like length and volume can also affect how easy a surfboard is to ride for a beginner.
These factors also make a difference for intermediate or advanced surfers. The shape of a surfboard can be different for its tail, rail, nose, deck, or overall outline. A soft-top version of all surfboard shapes is also feasible.
Shapers can mix and match different aspects to create unique designs as well. Overall, there are two main categories of surfboard shapes that can be further subdivided.
Longboards are the best surfboards for beginners. They can be made from any material. The defining feature of a longboard, as the name implies, is its length. Other design features also play an important role.
Most surfers would agree that a longboard exceeds 7 feet. They can be up to 20 feet long, but anything bigger than that strays into the realm of a stand-up-paddle board or a boat.
Longboards have a low nose rocker, high volume, fat, wide, rails and sometimes have channels carved in the bottom to facilitate nose-riding. They perform well in small waves and excel in long, tapered waves of low-consequence.
Surfing on a longboard is all about the glide. Cross-stepping and soul-arches replace radical turns. The longboard style is all about smooth movements, maintaining speed, taking the high-line, and enjoying the ride.
The very best surfboard types for beginners are longboard soft top surfboards. Foam surfboards are buoyant and have an added layer of soft foam applied to the top to help prevent injury.
Shortboards is a general name given to a vast category of boards below 7ish feet long. The category can be further subdivided. Shortboards in general are less voluminous than longboards and have more nose rocker. They also have sharper, thinner, rails.
Shortboards are for more high-performance oriented surfing. A modified shortboard shape can also be applied to a longer board (over 7 feet) when creating big-wave boards such as a gun or rhino-chaser.
The following categories are a few examples of types of shortboards found in surf line-ups around the world. They do not, however, come close to illustrating the full profusionÂ of variety afforded to the modern surfer in its entirety.
This board is most often used by pros. It is knifey and able to cut through the water well. It is very thin and often small between 5 and 6.5 feet long. It also has a low volume. It often has its fins set up in a triangle (thruster) or quad pattern.
Most high-performance shortboards have a lot of nose rocker and square tails, though many types of tail variants are common. They sit low in the water and are great for throwing turns, landing airdrops, busting airs, or tube-riding. They are for experts or upper intermediate surfers only. So, not the best type of surfboard for beginners. They also don’t do well in mushy waves.
Step-ups are your typical high-performance shortboard but super-charged. They are more voluminous, with all the meat in the right places to help you buck yourself over the ledge. These boards are for experts only.
They tend to be larger than 6 feet in length and have substantial nose rocker. Their rails are thicker than your typical high-performance shortboard, but they are still knifey.
Tail variants for step-ups can vary, but a good one for tracking down tubes in wild and wooly conditions is a rounded pin. The name implies that this is the board to choose when you are ready to “step up your game” and surf fun, but not terrifying waves.
Groveler surfboards are the opposite of step-ups. They are a high-performance board custom-tailored for sub-par, gutless waves. The fin set-ups, tail designs, and dimensions for grovelers can vary.
In general, they are shorter, fatter, wider, and more voluminous than conventional shortboards. They still retain an aspect of high-performance in poor conditions for the user.
Fun-shape surfboards are a bit of a catch-all category for all the other misfit designs that don’t fit into the other categories. Things like a fish fit in here as well as other more unconventional designs and shapes. This is one of the best surfboard types
Fun-shapes can be a bit quirky and unique. They also tend to be on the larger end of the shortboard spectrum, and some can cross over into the realm of longboards. There is no limit to the variation of design and shape found in this category.
Best Type Of Surfboard, Making the Call
No matter which surfboard type you choose, one thing is for sure, learning to surf is challenging and requires a major commitment of both time and energy.
Many long-term surfers will tell you that the first ten years of surfing are just long enough to tell if you like it or not. Picking a soft surfboard, long in length, with plenty of volume is your best bet as a beginner.
To find that surfboard, or shop around for other surfboard types, check out the full variety available from Liquid Shredder, the best type of soft top surfboard for a beginner. That way, you and those you care about can start to shred and enjoy the ride! We hope you found this information useful in determining the Best Surfboard Types.