FINDING A SURFBOARD THAT FITS

Height, Weight and What Else You Need to Consider

Whether my brother is watching me surf at the beach or checking out YouTube surf sessions, it usually ends in getting him amped to buy a surfboard. And then he looks to me, dazed with excitement: “What size board should I get for my height?”

He’s on the right track – not just any size will do. The wrong board will be a waste and reduce your likelihood of sticking to surfing – and the right board can help you progress faster and have more fun. You need to know how to find that perfect fit.

So look no further – we’ve done the homework for you.

Also See : Best Surfboard for Beginners

surfboard sizes

Make Sure Your Ride is Function over Flash

You want to know which board to pick for your performance level? Start by understanding three essential ideas – before you start shopping.

  1. Skills. Before you start thinking about the look of your board, you have to master the basic skills of surfing, like how to move, turn and change directions. Focus on what you do, over what the board looks like. Your skills will speak for you out there, not some artsy board. And knowing your true skill level will matter when you shop.
  2. Float. This is the measure of the volume over your board relative to your weight. And it tells you how well your board will float you in the water. Floating is essential to surfing, right? The less your board drags in the water as you paddle, the faster you can move. Moving faster means you can catch more waves – and they won’t have to be super steep for you to catch them.
  3. Weight. Your weight, that is. This is the other half of the float equation.The heavier you are, the more volume you’ll need to float yourself and catch those waves. So, it follows that you need to consider the volume of your board just as much as your own heft. They’re both vital to your ability to surf.

    VOLUME: KNOW YOUR MAGIC NUMBER

    So, you start with that Volume-to-Weight ration we talked about above. You’ll hear people talking about “pounds per liter (lbs/L)” or “kilos per liter (kg/L)” – different metrics, same thing. This will be your magic number and, no matter how long ago math class was, you can find it with ease.

Your Weight/Volume of Your Board = Your Magic Number.

The higher your number, the smaller the board is in relation to you. Confused? Don’t be. You’ll get there!

It comes down to this: volume is basically be the most useful way to compare the crazy amount of boards out on the market. Most brands typically show the volume of their boards on their websites and on their surfboards. Some websites will even give you a calculator to determine the right size board for you and your style. But hear this: before you search for your perfect volume for your type of setup, try to completely understand your skill level. If your performance isn’t exactly expert yet, it’s OK. Watch some videos and get an idea of the correct range (skill level x weight) before you buy or order a board.

Check out the table below to get an idea of the volume that suits your fitness and comfort levels best. Keep in mind though, it’s dependent on your weight and your skill level.

LevelSkillVolume/Weight
BeginnerWhitewater, Learning to Stand & Stay on board2.0lbs/L (0.9kg/L)
Lower intermediatePaddling out, dropping straight down the face (riding green waves)2.6lbs/L (1.2kg/L)
IntermediateTrimming Down the Line, Attempting Turns3.0lbs/L (1.3kg/L)
Upper intermediatePerforming basic cutbacks4.0lbs/L (1.8kg/L)
AdvancedAdvanced top to bottom surfing6.0lbs/L (2.7kg/L)

 

ProPro 6.6lbs/L (3.0kg/L)

Now that you get the math, here’s a tip: if you’re torn between a few similar boards, always choose the larger one. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. As your skill increases, you’ll find that you’re able to handle larger boards a little better. But always stay close to your fit.

Here’s some guidelines you can use to find the general idea of surfboard sizing:

Your  Weight          Beginner               Intermediate
55 kg                             
6’8″ – 7’2″                  6’8″ – 7’0″
55 – 65 kg                      7’2″ – 7’6″                  6’10” – 7’2″
65 – 75 kg                      8’0″ – 8’6″                 7’0″ – 7’6″
75 – 85 kg                      8’6″ – 9’2″                  7’6″ – 8’0″
85 – 95 kg                     9’2″ – 9’6″                   8’0″ – 8’6″
95 kg+                           9’6″ +                          8’6″ – 9’2″

 

When bigger isn’t better.

A board that’s too large has one major downside – if you have poor technique, you can’t pivot with your upper body as you would with a shorter board. So, it’s imperative that you focus on your technique before you go out and get a super long 9’ board. The more modest your surfboard size, the easier it should be to turn. In theory. However, shortboards can still be maneuvered with awful technique which is only gonna slow you down when it comes to improving your skills. Again, focus. On. Technique.

Here is what too small will get you.

It’ll paddle slower than molasses

Catch those sweet waves later

Slow down your turns – which will make you bail

Make your skills appear surprisingly ugly, if you’re no good

Shape – Yes, it’s a Thing.

how long should your surfboard be

How Do I Find the Right Surfboard Shape for Me?

Now that you have a good idea about how to find the perfect volume for your board,  it’s time to explore shape. Surfboards come in three basic shapes. Boards with identical dimensions can look and surf completely differently from each other. How do you know which one is right for you? Let’s break it down, based on what we already know and we still need to learn.

To get an idea of  the relation between shape and volume: your average shortboard would be between 25-35 Litres, while your typical funboard would be somewhere in the middle of  40-50L. Longboards may go from 60-100L and could go up to 250L. 

 

“And, what about my height?” you’re probably asking. If you’re just starting out, I would say it’s best to find a board that is broad, thick and is at least 3 feet taller than your current height. If you’re a beginner surfer, try to find a surfboard with some extra flotation built in and some extra stability so that you can paddle the wave a little easier (2Lbs/L weight-to-volume ratio). These boards will give you more stability and are a little easier to paddle. They’ll ultimately help you catch waves faster than if you had a board without the extras and are way more forgiving when those waves eventually overtake you and you can’t find your balance immediately. We’ve all been there.

Do any of these have you scratching yourself or focsing you to search for another answer?

Contact us or drop a comment below and we’ll get back to you asap. We can help you find your ideal type of board and uncover any sign that you may not be at your full potential with your current gear.

When is a Longboard Best to Use & What’s The Best Size?

When waves are like hills, longboards are the “sure shot” if you’re trying to have fun.This is because they have a larger surface area, they’ll hook smaller waves and end up catching them sooner than later (more fun for you). Their mass also lets them glide through the plateaus with great momentum (more fun for you). Longboards are definitely enjoyable in many conditions which makes them my go-to choice for the days when the waves are small and lookin’ like hills.

  • The Advantages of Choosing a Longboard:
  • Longboards can help give you extra balance in comparison to shortboards
  • They float better which means you can paddle and catch waves more effectively (yes, please!)
  • They’re safer if you choose to get a soft top board (less “ouch” if for some reason it decides to smack you in the face when you fall off)

Don’t forget! Find the right volume for your weight and skill level as I mentioned earlier. Longboard surfboard sizes can be fun for all skill levels, even high skill riders. They’re also perfect for getting back into the swing of things after a hiatus from the surf season or if you’re recovering from a sprain or anything else that might’ve held you back. Now, let’s get into a few shapes you may find when browsing for a board.

Board Types and When They’re Best

Fishtail Boards

When you go from a longboard to a shorter and smaller board like a fun shape/fish style board, you have hopefully mastered stability. However, it’s best not to go right onto a shortboard after you’ve had a soft top for a while because you may run into balancing issues on these kinds of boards. Think of this board as a preface to shortboards…for the novice…on the first day of college. They have a ton of support that you’ll demand as you and your skills progress and improve. Just make sure they’re larger than 20 inches from the center if you choose to switch boards. It’ll help you stay balanced when you’re out on the waves. It also doesn’t hurt that your board has an a-typical design (for the dream of course).

 

  • Why and when to choose a fish style board:
  • Days when the waves are elevated with medium height (1-3 ft)
  • When smaller waves are out, these boards tend to help catch waves earlier due to their thickness and width
  • Short height and double fin boards allow them a little more maneuverability
  • They typically have a lower curvature making them ideal for quick dashing down the waves when they’re long and fast
  • Let’s you make large cutbacks when in front of unbroken waves

Advantages:

  • Allows you to improve paddling
  • Allows you to maneuver and turn more easily
  • Great transition from longboards
  • Perfect for getting your skills top-notch
  • Sturdy (typically created with epoxy)

So, when should you switch to a fun shape/fish style board? After you’ve mastered the following:

  1. The soft top longboard
  2. Paddling
  3. Catching perpetual waves
  4. Pop Up’s (getting on your feet with no issue)
  5. Turning left and right

 

Shortboards

 

So, you’re ready for your first shortboard, huh? If you’ve got the hang of paddling, pop ups and the basics of turns…you just might be ready for one. But, you’ve really got to know the basics before I could recommend getting one.

It’s a perfect way to experience some new ways to surf. They’re thin, have a great curvature allowing you to catch the waves better and are normally more agile than their counterparts. They are usually built for maneuverability. They have less foam so you can control them more easily which is useful when you want to duck dive those seriously insane  waves. They’re also perfect for riding those magnificent long, deep barrels we all dream of catching. You know what I mean. The kind of waves Kelly Slater is known for.

It’s best to choose shorter boards when in these scenarios:

  • When waves are between 3-6 feet (big wave surf)
  • When you want to give vertical surfing a go
  • Catching sweet barrels


Advantages of choosing shortboards:

  • They allow improvement on intermediate to advanced maneuvers
  • They can easily hook brisk, lofty, dominant waves
  • They can quickly improve your surfing skills to advanced levels
  • Allows you to work on your style and performance

Now, before you go out and get one, make sure you’ve mastered the following:

  1. Fun shape/fish style boards
  2. All turning skills including bottom and top turns
  3. Catching any wave…whenever and every time you want
  4. Staying on the front of the wave and close to the ideal surfing position…the pocket
  5. Creating speed
  6. Easily surfing front/back side

But, Which Surfboard Should I Pick?

When waves are between 4-7 feet tall you can basically ride any board your heart desires. This is the ideal condition. Conditions like that are rare. This is where people will stick with the boards they’re most comfortable with, but I say it’s the perfect time for you to research that board you’ve had your eyes on. Since days like that are rare, why not seize the opportunity to try something new? However, also make sure you buy the right type of board (design, nose, tail, volume) for your height and weight.

Just remember, always pick the board that lets you have the most fun when you’re out surfing. Who cares what someone else tells you to ride. After all, isn’t having fun the point of surfing?

I hope this guide helps you choose the right surfboard size and shape as well as give you a few pointers on when to choose what boards. Until next time! Have fun and ride safe!

 

Fins

Single Fin:

This was the typical setup years ago, and is widely used on a long board.

Twin:

A twin setup is best for small-wave surfing, and makes your ride a bit more maneuverable on those smaller swells.

Thruster/Tri:

The most common setup of this top 5, thrusters add additional control that helps newcomers wanting to learn as well as experts build their experience level.

Quad Fin:

This benefit to this is speed in smaller waves, and is great for maneuverability for a big – wave surfing.

The range between your ability to excel your ability to surf will rely on your choices at this step. Try to start on a setup that is ideal for you, make sure you search blog posts or videos like this to find the right type of board for you.

 

Tips & Tricks To get The Perfect Size

 

  • When you search for the perfect board size for you:
  • Keep performance in mind (are you experienced on a longboard and will choosing one only slow your ability to grow down)
  • Take a step back and fully weigh your options
  • Travel around to your local surf shops before you buy or order a board online
  • Search (a lot) and check out the reviews of different boards before making a decision
  • Design is important but don’t let that be a deciding factor

 

FAQ

How long should your surfboard be?

Using the chart below, match your weight to the recommended length. One tell tail sign that your board isn’t the right size, whether that’s too big or small is your speed, and ability to popup in a stable way.

What size surfboard should I ride?

Additionally, you can use the image below to match your weight to the ideal size for you.

(funny side note: my brother often calls it a surfing board size)

Image of the surfboard sizing chart:

surfboard sizing chart for beginners

Also See : Catch Surf Odysea Surfboard Review

 

About the Author Chet Thornberry

My name is Chet and I'm a surfer living in Cocoa Beach. I created this blog to put my experience with surfing, skimboarding, bodyboarding, and paddleboarding to good use (pretty much all things water sports).

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