Surfing is a sport that involves a wide variety of different surfboards that are each designed to help riders optimize their surfing for various schools of thought and philosophies related to surfing strategies. Click here today to learn about all of the surfboard types out there and what they’re designed for!
Although many extreme sports are fairly straightforward when it comes to the equipment items that are involved in participating in those sports, surfing is an extreme sport that has broad variation with regard to the types of boards. Given that there are several different types of surfboards and surfing philosophies, it helps to learn a bit about each variation so that one can get a feel for where they would like to direct their progress as a surfer. For more aggressive, technical surfing, a shortboard surfboard is going to be a great choice.
For more laid back, relaxed surfing with generally easier take-offs, a longboard could be a smart choice to consider. These surfboard variations only represent two out of roughly seven different board types, and the remaining five surfboard variations will be covered in detail below. With each individual surfer, there are always going to be different preferences with regard to which types of wave and difficulty level that is desired, and these are other factors which should be taken into account when a surfer (of virtually any skill level) is considering the purchase of a new surfboard.
A longboard is in some ways the classic or quintessential surfboard, and it is an extension of the first surfboards that were created many years ago by Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians. Although to many surfers a longboard is general considered as a beginner board, there are many surfers of a high skill level that love to ride longboard surfboards for their unique feel. A longboard surfboard tends to have a length that ranges anywhere from about eight to eleven feet long, and these boards are characterized by a heightened ability to catch waves with a lower effort threshold.
Paddling tends to be easier on longboard surfboards as well, due in large part to the reality that longboards have a greater stability rating on the water because of their dramatically increased surface area overall. An additional characteristic of a longboard surfboard is the fact that a longboard can catch waves more quickly than a shorter surfboard, mainly because the longboard can drop in faster due to its longer length overall. A final characteristic of longboard surfboards that draws in a lot of beginning longboard surfers is the desirable ability to be able to walk up and down the longboard, as this tends to be an emblematic maneuver in classical surfing.
Highly popular and prevalent among aggressively competitive and professional surfing skill levels, the shortboard surfboard is a highly maneuverable and agile board that is much shorter and smaller than the longboard or other generally longer surfboard variations. The shortboard surfboard is designed to tackle much faster waves, along with the much steeper wave variations as well.
Shortboard surfboards tend to have a length range of roughly five to eight feet long, with a pronounced nose-end rocker design that is easy to pick up above the surface of the wave at high speeds. The nose is actually quite pointed, and the running rails are much thinner than on other surfboard designs. A shortboard surfboard is more or less intended for getting barreled deep in the most crucial section of a breaking wave, where other boards cannot easily or effectively ride.
As shown in the picture of the fish tail surfboard shown above, the fish style surfboard has a very special and innovative tail structure built into it that gives the rider a much different feel than the conventional surfboard tail structure. A fish style surfboard is not terribly different from the overall shortboard dynamic, but there are a few marked differences in these two surfboard variations. A fish type of surfboard is generally flatter, having more width, and also generally somewhat shorter than typical shortboard surfboards.
A fish surfboard also will often be designed to have a greater surface area than a typical shortboard surfboard, and when this factor is coupled with the flatness element of fish boards it is easy to see how this surfboard variation paddles much better and with more stability than a typical, aggressively-shaped shortboard surfboard. Fish surfboards are also great for beginner to intermediate surfers who want to perform optimally in slower moving waves as they build their confidence and skillset as surfers, since fish style surfboards have the ability to charge hard in slower, mushier wave breaks. With its higher than average volume overall, fish surfboards tend to have excellent balance, even though they do tend to struggle in steeper, more hollow wave breaks.
For this category of surfboard type, known as a funboard design, we are featuring a specific product that exemplifies the definitive characteristics of what a funboard truly is. In this case, the Triple X Surf designed “The Force” Epoxy Stinger funboard surfboard is a perfect example of what defines and determines the parameters of a funboard. Essentially, a funboard is a variation of surfboard that is unique in the sense that it incorporates much more surface area and volume than a more conventional surfboard design, allowing it to achieve a few different things that qualify it uniquely as a “funboard” surfboard.
Generally having a length that can vary between roughly seven and nine feet long, funboard surfboards are somewhat similar to the fish board style in the sense that they have high volume and a high stability rating overall. A funboard, in keeping with its name, is designed to require less effort than other surfboards when it comes to the energy needed to drop in and actually catch waves. A favorite of heavier surfers, the funboard has the ability to successfully surf all kinds of waves without losing its balance center.
A hybrid surfboard, like the funboard and fish board in many ways, is intended to offer a variation on the typical shortboard design. One of the principle characteristics of the hybrid surfboard can be found in its higher than average volume rating, making it appeal to heavier or larger surfers, while still feeling very much like a shortboard in terms of maneuverability and responsiveness. A hybrid board is generally easier to catch waves on than a standard shortboard, and will often times have a higher balance rating in the water as well.
Hybrid surfboards can essentially be a cross, or hybrid, between either the two surfboard types of longboard and shortboard, or shortboard and fish board, or shortboard and funboard. Every hybrid surfboard from each respective company and manufacturer is going to have subtle nuances and unique characteristics built into it, and for this reason surfers are recommended to do especially extensive product research on hybrid surfboards before making their selection and purchase.
Pictured here is professional surfer Shane Dorian carrying his massive gun surfboard, which is a variation of surfboard that is characterized by its remarkably massive size. This massive sizing of gun surfboards is intended for basically one sole purpose, and that is the pursuit of true big wave surfing. A gun surfboard is created to have especially narrowed nose and tail sections, which help seasoned big wave professionals and experts maintain their sense of control, stability, balance, and high speed that comes along with virtually all big wave surfing formats.
Big wave surfing is, in many ways, the most intense and dangerous variation of surfing that exists in the world today, and the creation of the gun surfboard is a testament to the unique technical requirements and challenges that come along with big wave surfing. A conventional surfboard is simply not going to offer the level of stability and control that will prove to be necessary with a big wave surfing format, and that is why the gun surfboard came into existence; to meet the demands of the ever expanding and truly exciting surfing format that is big wave surfing.
Shown here confidently barreling through a massive wave on his stand up paddleboard surfboard, legendary all-around surfer Laird Hamilton shows us how it’s done in his typical athletic, highly stylistic fashion. Note the drag he is achieving along the wave surface by reaching his paddle back and contacting it with the wave face, which is one of the many unique facets of being able to surf waves with a stand up paddleboard. This type of surfing is markedly different from conventional surfing practices, where riders will tend to paddle into waves in a kind of swimming motion. Surfing via stand up paddleboard surfboard is completely different in the sense that the surfer will use a long, single paddle to actually paddle themselves into a sufficient speed and momentum level required for catching a desired wave.
A stand up paddle board is, in general, quite a long surfboard. These surfboards can range anywhere from ten to fourteen feet long in some cases, offering very high volume and stability overall. Surfing a stand up paddleboard can be a great experience, especially since these boards are quite versatile and can successfully surf waves of widely varying sizes and speeds. An additional and perhaps somewhat obvious aspect of stand up paddleboards is that these boards can also be cruised even when the ocean or water is flat, since the rider can generate momentum with their extended paddle.