Understanding The Equipment Needed To Surf
We have a look at the main items you need when learning to surf.
Your First Surf Board
How Much To Spend and What To Buy
Because of this when we train new surfers we always advise them to go with a rental board until they are confident they want to pursue the sport. In reality not many of my students leave the sport early on, after all once you are forming a bond with the board you begin to really see the advantages.
Once you are familiar with the board itself then I always recommend buying the best board available within your budget, and if you find something you want that you cant afford, wait a few weeks and purchase it at a later date. This is very important because a good quality board will last you a long time and will stop you from wanting to upgrade almost immediately. Because we train down in Cornwall and get all our surfing equipment from Zuma Jay, they have some great deals and specials we use to save a few quid for our students. Many of our students actually fall in love with the board they train on that they end up buying the same model, or even better – buying it as a 2nd hand surfboard which could save you more than £250!
The biggest decision when looking for a surfboard is the shape, this dedicates a lot of other aspects to its essential to get this right. For a first board many surfers opt for a min-mal style board, this is often seen as a smaller version of a malibu, or long board.
Rounded Nose -
The rounded end of the mini-mal board is great for added stability and decreases the chances of tipping when moving horizontally across the waves. This makes travelling in a straight line a lot more manageable and also helps with the step-up as the board is a lot more stable than other shapes. Another advantage of the rounded nose is that it allows the board to plane easier on slow waves which is ideal for beginners who are still gaining confidence on the water.
Squash Tail -
The squash tail is a name given to the rounded end on the mini-mal board, again similar to the rounded nose, this tail gives added stability over the common pin type tails. The squash part of the tail refers to how it is squared off, which allows water to pass cleanly from the back of the board, which gives a more responsive turn when riding the wave.
As is now common practice for many surfers, since their development, fins have changed the performance of a surfboard and become a natural addition to anyones board. The tri-fin surfboard works so well that over 90% of surfboards currently available worldwide are using this configuration. Its best to go with a board that has removable fins as they can get damaged or knocked off – that way they are easy to replace. We recommend going with FCS or Future as there are large ranges of FCS fins available as replacements.
Length & Width -
When starting out many trainers advise to go with as big of a board as possible in terms of width. Again the added surface area will help with buoyancy but also with stability when moving across the waves. Just make sure that when you are choosing the width of the board that you can carry it comfortably under your arm, if not then it could cause some problems when paddling on the board. When choosing length of the board it is important that you choose a board around 14″ to 24″ taller than yourself otherwise it can have an effect on your paddling speed and wave count.
Your First Wetsuit
I always recommend a good wetsuit to my students as it allows them longer in the English water, and when you are learning practice is a very important aspect so its important to get enough water time as possible.
There are around 8 different styles of wetsuit readily available in the shops, I only recommend 1 or 2 styles to my students but I will give a quick overview of all of them here so you know what to look for.
Obviously wetsuits are split into two categories already; mens wetsuits and womens wetsuits. Main difference between the two styles is the body shape, other than that you will find them very similar. A good wetsuit can cost up to £500 so its essential you make the best choice first time so you don’t end up wasting your money.
There are plenty of styles you can choose for a wetsuit, so I thought it would be best for you to know them so you don’t get sold anything which you don’t need.
2. Wetsuit Top – Typically used during warmer weather or as part of a 2 piece wetsuit when paired up.
3. Shorty – Used in warmer weathers but also commonly used to give full mobility in the arms and legs of the surfer as joints are free
4. Spring Shorty – Similar to the shorty style suit but more geared suitable for lower temperatures as its commonly a thicker wetsuit and also comes with arm coverings.
5. Short John – Used to provide cover and insulation for the core of the surfer but to also allow free movement of arms and lower legs.
6. Long John – Similar to the Short John but with additional leg covers, this is often paired with a rash vest when surfing in colder weather.
7. Spring Full – Much like the typical wetsuit this is ideal for cooler temperature waters as it provides a lot of cover and warmth to the surfer.
8. Winter Full – Typically made up of a much thicker neoprene this wetsuit is ideal for winter months, with water temperatures down to 13 degrees Celsius.