Guide To – Height Chart & Guide (and a Few Things to Consider in Between)

My brother will travel with me to the beach every other week or so, and after getting excited while watching me surf he frantically whips out his cell phone and watches countless YouTube surf sessions and the perfect size board for him. He then throws rapid-fire questions at me like: “What size surfboard should I get for my height?!”

Look no further, in this post you will come out with the knowledge to save countless hours of wasted work and find the perfect fit for you.

This is an important question to ask, as without the right pick you can seriously reduce your likelihood of sticking to surfing, and picking up the skills in the short term.

Also See : Best Surfboard for Beginners

surfboard sizes

So, what exactly is the perfect surf board size for you and your performance level? As complex as that question is, there’s really only 3 important ideas you should try to completely understand before you even think about deciding on the right board (my brother calls it surfing board size) for you. Let’s take a look.

  1. Alright Rick Flare, your surfboard isn’t a show piece for you to flaunt everywhere. What really matters are your skills. Your skills will show everyone that you’re the boss and you’re not a poser for going out with some super artsy board and zero skills. You should really focus on how to move, turn, change directions, etc first. Don’t even think about sweet designs and “what size surfboard should I ride” before you’ve mastered the essentials.
  2. While you may think it’s cool to have the sweetest looking board around, it won’t be cool if you have a sweet board and no actual surfing skills. Focus on improving your ability to surf as fast as possible by finding what works for your weight and skill level. I’ll touch on the details of this as you read on.
  3. The most important factor or sign that you might be using the wrong board to consider though is float. “What is float,” you say? Float is the volume of your board relative to your weight. Volume tells you how well your board will float you in the water. Think about it, if you can’t float, how can you expect to surf? The less your board drags in the water as you paddle, the faster you’ll be able to move. The faster you can paddle, the more waves you can catch and the less steep those waves gotta be to catch. But, there’s a catch here:  the volume of your board is only half of the puzzle. The other half is your weight. The heavier you are, the more volume you’ll need to float yourself and the more troublesome it’ll be catching those waves. So, consider the volume of your board as much as you think about your weight. They’re both vital to your ability to surf.

 

Shapes

This is the second step, there’s basically 3 shapes when it comes to surfboards. They may have the same dimensions, but they will look and surf completely different from each other. The most important thing to remember here is a term we call the “Volume-to-Weight ratio” as I mentioned above. People usually mention it as Pounds per Liter (lbs/L) or Kilos per Liter (kg/L) (different metrics, same thing). Getting this magical number is pretty easy. You just need to divide your weight by the volume of your board (I hate math too, trust me). That’s it. The higher your end number, the smaller the board is in relation to you. Pretty simple, eh? Picking the correct board is important to best grow your performance over time, make sure you start out with the right setup (nose, tail, fins etc.)

I’ve got an example below you can use to find the perfect surfboard sizing chart you can use to get a general idea of the most effective size board for you to use. Check it out:

Your  WeightBeginnerIntermediate
< 55 kg6’8″ – 7’2″6’8″ – 7’0″
55 – 65 kg7’2″ – 7’6″6’10” – 7’2″
65 – 75 kg8’0″ – 8’6″7’0″ – 7’6″
75 – 85 kg8’6″ – 9’2″7’6″ – 8’0″
85 – 95 kg9’2″ – 9’6″8’0″ – 8’6″
95 kg+9’6″ +8’6″ – 9’2″

Volume will be basically be the most useful way to compare the crazy amount of boards out on the market right now. 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 calculate the right size board for you and your style. When you search for your perfect volume for your type of setup, try to completely understand your skill level beforehand. And if your performance isn’t exactly expert yet, watch videos and learn the correct range (skill level x weight) before you buy or order a board. Bottom line – if you want to maximize your output and learn to surf efficiently on the correct gear, you need to work.

I’ve included another table below that you can use 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.  Check it out:

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)

Pretty cool, eh? Essentially, you just multiply the number with your weight to get the volume. Ez pz. If you have to choose between a few different boards though, always, always choose the larger board. 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.

A board that’s too large though unfortunately 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. A board that’s too small for you will do the following:

  • It’ll paddle slower than molasses
  • Catch those sweet waves later than sooner (no good)
  • Slow down your turns which will make you bail
  • Make your skills appear surprisingly ugly if you’re no good

Smaller boards let you clip your turns better (which can make you believe you’re shredding some serious waves when you’re really not). However, you’d be surprised at how learning to carve is actually way harder to do on a lower volume board. This is because you’ve got less speed. But, how do I find the right surfboard shape after I’ve figured out the right surfboard size? Great question. I’ll go over that next as well as going into some details about choosing the right height for your needs.

how long should your surfboard be

How Do I Find the Right Surfboard Shape for Me?

So, I’ve given you an idea on how to find the perfect volume for your board. It’s time to explore the many shapes boards can come in. To get an idea, 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 just so you get an idea.

But, you’re probably asking, “what size surfboard should I get for my height?” 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 Brevard County. 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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