Intermediate Surfers – If you can catch 50% of the waves you paddle for, you can turn front-side and back- side, you have no problems avoiding collisions while riding a wave, and you are becoming more comfortable in shoulder-high or slightly larger surf, then you’ve reached the Intermediate level. Now, you may want to stay on a LB and learn to nose ride and/or to link carving turns across the trimline. Or, you may decide that you want to surf a shorter board, and learn to surf in a more “vertical” style. The intermediate stage is also when many surfers begin to build a collection of surfboards or a “quiver”. The advantage of the quiver is that it insures that you have the right tool for the job. Most surfers have a board that works well for them in small surf (below shoulder-high) and another board that works well for them in larger surf (above shoulder-high). This is the basic two-board quiver. A LBer may have a classic single-fin noserider for small days and a 2+1 modern LB for bigger days. A SBer may have a 6-2 squash-tail thruster for bigger days and a “fishy”-shape (flatter rocker/fuller outline/thicker) for smaller days. Having a quiver isn’t a requirement for having fun, nor does it guarantee that you’ll always have an “epic” session. It should, however, maximize your chances of having either. Besides, having multiple boards to choose from will keep your surfing fresh. As an intermediate, try to select a shape that matches your abilities, but also one that will be a little more challenging to ride. Now would be the time to downsize in order to gain a little more performance. Going slightly shorter, narrower and/or thinner can yield a big difference in responsiveness. Conversely, adding more volume may be just what you need for conquering those smaller days. As an intermediate you should also be trying other shapes and sizes as the opportunities present themselves. Borrowing a friend’s board for a session can open your eyes to new possibilities.
At this point, talking to a shaper will really help you define what your next board should be. Many shapers have a quiver of “loaner” boards that you can try out to help you dial in the right board. If you plan to buy a used board, try to arrange to ride it at least once before purchasing it. Even just paddling it around on it can give you a pretty good feel for how well the board’s size fits you. With a new board, make sure that you understand what the “return” policy is. Most shapers will either replace a board that “doesn’t fit”, or refund your money, assuming the board hasn’t been damaged. However, some will not. Just be sure you know what the policy is.
Next: Advanced surfers