“Will this board work for me?”
I get asked this question a lot by new and /or inexperienced surfers when I advertise a shortboard or fun shape for sale. The single most important performance consideration for a beginning surfer is the ability to catch waves, period. The more waves you catch, the quicker you’ll learn the basics and the quicker your skill level will progress. Start with the biggest board you can afford, and realize that this will not be your last surfboard. (remember, walk before you run) Most surfers who start with a shortboard soon realize how difficult the sport is and give up in frustration. Their shortboard is usually the first and the last surfboard they own. They soon discover that its not much fun watching other people catch waves. And, while its true that traditional, single-fin longboards are less responsive then shorter shapes, a solid 2+1 modern longboard can be quite responsive. What’s more, they have such a broad performance range, that surfers at any level of experience can enjoy them. A reasonable shape progression would be LB, mid-size board (9′-7′) egg (roundnose) or hybrid (pointy nose), and then shortboard or shortboard alternative, e.g. fish, mini-egg, etc. How fast you work your way through this progression depends upon how often you surf, your athletic ability, your age and your level of commitment.
As you grow as a surfer you will learn that certain wave conditions lend themselves to certain surfboard shapes. Nothing better than a longboard for waist-high or smaller waves. Shorter boards work better in faster/bigger waves. If you surf where most surfers are on longboards, you’ll never get a wave to yourself on a shortboard. Just the opposite is true if you ride a LB at a SB break. Most surfers have more than one board or a “quiver” for this very reason.