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How to find the right surfboard for you!

How to find the right surfboard for you!

This guide will help you choose the right surfboard for your next surfing adventure! 

Finding a surfboard that fits your needs can be difficult and when it comes to improving your surf level and enjoying your next surf trip, the choice of the right board is a crucial factor.

 

You can get the best surfboard in the world…  if it doesn’t suit your surfing level, you are not going to enjoy it.

That’s why we strive to support you in choosing your board and to show you which questions are important when choosing a surfboard to guarantee you maximum waves and surfing fun.

VOLUME, VOLUME, VOLUME!

The volume of the surfboard is for beginners usually even more important than the size of the board. But even if you are getting better, you should think about the volume of your new board.

It can define how successful your session will be.

Surfboards filled with water to explain volume
What is the volume and what is it all about?

Volume is the amount of space your surfboard occupies. That is, the total area of your board’s capacity in liters. The volume gives you an indication of how well the board will carry you and how well it will float.

A high volume board will mostly float on the surface, while a low volume board will tend to go underwater.

However, you should always evaluate the surfboard volume in relation to your body weight and riding ability.

Surfboards filled with water to explain volume
How does the volume affect your surfing?

Boards with high volume float better and help you paddle. In addition, thanks to the volume of the board you are better taken along by waves. This gives you a decisive advantage, especially in small waves. Furthermore, boards with a lot of volume are very stable in the water and therefore a good companion to practice standing up and to get as many waves as possible.

Our Foamys offer you exactly these advantages and are the ideal companion for beginners and intermediates!

Explaining the effect of the volume of a surfboard

Only choose a board with less volume once your take-offs are a sure thing.

On the other hand, the advantage of surfboards with less volume is the higher maneuverability of the board. With less volume it will be easier for you to move your board in the wave, but you will also not be taken by the wave as fast and often have to do more paddling. So if your positioning and take-off are safe, it’s worth going a little lower with the volume to practice your maneuvers in the wave with more agility.

Duck dives are best done with a little less volume, which makes it easier to get into the lineup.

Also, when you reach the point where you can push your board well underwater despite the volume, you will find it easier to get into the line-up by duck-diving (diving under the wave).

You can also find our top choices for advanced surfers in the Ocean Boardguide.

In our Beginner Boardguide you’ll find some boards that will make your entry into surfing successful.

The use of the guild factor
The Guild Factor... a guide to volume selection

The Guild Factor offers a great help to find the right surfboard volume. It measures the relationship between the body weight of the surfer and the surfboard volume in question, taking into account the skill of the surfer.

The result is a number that serves as a guide for the surfer to determine the ideal volume for his body weight and skill.

Once you have calculated your Guild Factor, it will provide you with a long-term guide for choosing your surfboard volume. If your own surf gets better over time, you can gradually choose a smaller Guild Factor.

The Guild Factor is a guide for choosing the volume of your next board.

To date, some surfboards are still specified only by their dimensions without the volume in liters. This was also common in the past, because the indication of the dimensions gives a feeling for the volume of the board. Nevertheless, it is an important indication that tells the surfer a lot about how a surfboard behaves in the water. 

Strictly speaking, the whole thing is quite simple… The volume of a surfer’s surfboard is divided by his body weight. The result is a factor that helps the surfer to make their board decision. You can find out more about the Guild Factor over here.

Our volume calculator will suggest the ideal volume for your surfboard based on your body weight and surf level using the Guild Factor.

Is it all about the size?

Different board sizes in comparison to an average tall person

Only after you have had at least a few days of surfing experience and you are getting more comfortable with your take-off, should you start thinking about buying your first own beginner surfboard. This should be a board that you can have fun with for a long time in many conditions.

You have most likely already tried a few different sizes at your surf school, however even at this stage we recommend you to stick to a long board. Because in the beginning it’s all about getting waves and surfing as often as possible. That’s exactly why a longer board (7″ and up) gives you enough stability in your first waves to get lots of practice.

Different board sizes in comparison to an average tall person

In the beginning of your surf it’s all about catching waves. A large board will help you out.

When your take-off is absolutely safe and you already feel in the wave, you have reached the point where we recommend you to choose a slightly shorter board. This makes it easier to get into the lineup and more maneuverable in the wave. You can give your progress a boost from this point on.
Nevertheless, your long board, which you have surfed before, will never lose its relevance. Even for advanced surfers there will always be waves where a longer board is more fun. For example, waves with too little power for a shortboard or long and small waves, offer to unpack the longboard again and again.

A shorter board will make it easier to get into the lineup but is more difficult to paddle.

Nevertheless, we advise beginners in any case to a long board that offers enough stability for the entry into surfing. Surfing is all about fun and safety – and KANOA just might have the right beginner surfboard for you. The Foamy FUN soft board is guaranteed to bring joy and constant progress to your surfing.

Soft- Or Hard board? Is one better?

The question of whether one of the two is better is straightforward from a superficial point of view. No, neither of them is better than the other.
However! If you look at the issue in detail, there are differences that are important for the surfboard decision and should be considered in any case.
KANOA Foamy coming out of the water
SOFTBOARDS! More than a companion for beginners

Softboards mostly also called Foamy, can be seen at the surf spot mainly with surf schools. And this also has an important reason. Foamys are surfboards whose upper material consists mainly of foam and whose underside consists of a hard plastic layer. This gives them great characteristics for beginners. As mentioned in the beginning, the volume plays one of the most important roles when choosing a surfboard.

 

A softboard offers you a lot of volume and a high level of stability. 

Especially for beginners a big volume and a lot of stability is important. This is exactly what a softboard offers you, making it a great board for your surfing beginners. In addition, they paddle better than most hardboards and thus get more waves. Nevertheless, they also offer a good performance in the wave.
In addition, the soft outer material does not break so quickly or lead to injuries… Because the lineup can also be very busy on some days.

 

You can score high performance with softboards, too.

Nevertheless, softboards are not to be underestimated in their performance. Even for advanced surfers, a Foamy can remain a good companion for a long time. Especially in river waves Foamys are often more durable and still offer top performance.

And in the end, of course, the price also plays a role… Softboards are usually cheaper than hardboards and are therefore especially suitable for your surfing beginners, where you want to get closer to the new sport and learn quickly. Furthermore, paddling is mostly easier using a softboard, which makes it even more beginner friendly.

KANOA Foamy coming out of the water
HARDBOARDS! A good fit for progression

The advantages of softboards are clear. Nevertheless, most of the boards you will see in the lineup are hardboards. And that too has good reasons…

As your surf gets better and better, performance and agility become more and more important issues when choosing a surfboard. Although even as an experienced surfer you can use a foamy in almost all conditions, a hardboard can also give you better performance after a certain point. Therefore, the transition from soft to hardboard often works best if you then choose a longboard or Mini Malibu shape like our Icebreaker.

 

Hardboards often move more agilely in the water, but are less paddle-friendly.

Hardboards are usually lighter than foamys but also more sensible to damage. But with a hardboard you can often move more aggressively and agilely in the wave.

So hardboards will give you better behavior in the wave. But the way to get there is much more difficult and exhausting than on a softboard. Due to less paddle-friendliness and stability, take-offs into the wave are somewhat more difficult on most hardboards.

AND NOW? Hard or Soft?

Long story short… 

For every beginner and advanced beginner it is advisable in any case to take a softboard in hand first. 

Not to make the beginning too difficult is an important key to success in surfing. Especially paddling, take-offs and the right positioning plus timing are always difficult and new at the beginning. Therefore, you should not make it unnecessarily difficult for yourself. A Foamy usually offers exactly the features that support you at the beginning of your surfing journey and still give you fun for a long time. Because as mentioned… In bad conditions it is always worth having a Softboard, Groveler or Mini Mal with you, even for advanced surfers. 

Which shape is right for me now?

At the surf spot you will not only see boards of different sizes and construction. Also in terms of shapes, nowadays countless possibilities have arisen, some of which have become particularly popular. 

Longboards are the absolute classic among surfboard shapes and are often an absolute guarantee of fun. Especially when the waves are small and slow, you still get a lot of surfable waves with the longboard.

They are characterized mainly by their length and the narrow tapered tail. Due to their length, longboards usually have massive volume and ride very stable in the water.

Our longboard representative is the Log(a)Rhythm.

To make solid turns with a longboard, however, you need a lot of leg work and some practice. For the start we therefore rather recommend a Mini Malibu Foamy.  

Longer boards have a lot of volume just because of their length. This helps you especially to get a lot of waves and to surf a lot, even in small and slow waves. 

A Mini Malibu Softboard like our Foamy FUN is recommended especially for beginners, because this shape offers you a lot of stability and floatation. Nevertheless, it is also for advanced surfers the most reliable companion when the waves are a little smaller. 

A Mini Malibu Hardboard is the best recommendation if you want to switch from a softboard to a hardboard. 

The shape of the Icebreaker is generally a bit shorter and offers you enough volume to easily catch many waves and still practice your first turns. Due to the evenly distributed volume in the shape you get a lot of stability and paddling is made easier.

Also for advanced riders the board is always a solid choice for smaller waves. 

Longboards are the absolute classic among surfboard shapes and are often an absolute guarantee of fun. Especially when the waves are small and slow, you still get a lot of surfable waves with the longboard.

They are characterized mainly by their length and the narrow tapered tail. Due to their length, longboards usually have massive volume and ride very stable in the water.

Our longboard representative is the Log(a)Rhythm.

To make solid turns with a longboard, however, you need a lot of leg work and some practice. For the start we therefore rather recommend a Mini Malibu Foamy.  

Longer boards have a lot of volume just because of their length. This helps you especially to get a lot of waves and to surf a lot, even in small and slow waves. 

A Mini Malibu Softboard like our Foamy FUN is recommended especially for beginners, because this shape offers you a lot of stability and floatation. Nevertheless, it is also for advanced surfers the most reliable companion when the waves are a little smaller. 

A Mini Malibu Hardboard is the best recommendation if you want to switch from a softboard to a hardboard. 

The shape of the Icebreaker is generally a bit shorter and offers you enough volume to easily catch many waves and still practice your first turns. Due to the evenly distributed volume in the shape you get a lot of stability and paddling is made easier.

Also for advanced riders the board is always a solid choice for smaller waves. 

As the name wants to tell us, hybrid surfboards combine the positive aspects of different shapes. 

Hybrid shapes are usually not much longer than conventional shortboards, but their shape is slightly wider and offers more volume. This gives you more stability and still a lot of agility in the wave.

The Eggplant offers you exactly that… The best of both worlds. A wide shortboard shape with enough volume to get a lot of waves and by the squashtail and its shape still a lot of agility to perform in larger waves and do fast maneuvers.

The Fish is probably the absolute retro classic among the surfboard shapes and gets its name from the fish-like shape. 

A fish is usually built rather short, but still offers decent volume for enough buoyancy due to the wide shape.

The Twice Fish offers you a lot of stability in the wave due to the Retro Fish Tail, which allows you to ride the board a little smaller. Nevertheless, it moves playfully and quickly in the wave if you want it to.

The ideal funboard for many skill levels. 

A Fish belongs in every Quiver.

With shortboards we have reached the premier league of surfing.

The characteristic pointed nose, the strong rocker, the thin and sharp rails and a rather low volume offer you a lot of versatility in the wave and allow powerful and precise maneuvers.

The Battery is our all-round performance shortboard that gives you massive energy in the wave. With a little extra volume under the chest, it paddles easier than traditional shortboards without any loss of performance. 

As the name wants to tell us, hybrid surfboards combine the positive aspects of different shapes. 

Hybrid shapes are usually not much longer than conventional shortboards, but their shape is slightly wider and offers more volume. This gives you more stability and still a lot of agility in the wave.

The Eggplant offers you exactly that… The best of both worlds. A wide shortboard shape with enough volume to get a lot of waves and by the squashtail and its shape still a lot of agility to perform in larger waves and do fast maneuvers.

The Fish is probably the absolute retro classic among the surfboard shapes and gets its name from the fish-like shape. 

A fish is usually built rather short, but still offers decent volume for enough buoyancy due to the wide shape.

The Twice Fish offers you a lot of stability in the wave due to the Retro Fish Tail, which allows you to ride the board a little smaller. Nevertheless, it moves playfully and quickly in the wave if you want it to.

The ideal funboard for many skill levels. 

A Fish belongs in every Quiver.

With shortboards we have reached the premier league of surfing.

The characteristic pointed nose, the strong rocker, the thin and sharp rails and a rather low volume offer you a lot of versatility in the wave and allow powerful and precise maneuvers.

The Battery is our all-round performance shortboard that gives you massive energy in the wave. With a little extra volume under the chest, it paddles easier than traditional shortboards without any loss of performance. 

Also for the choice of your surfboard shape are mainly your surfing ability and the volume decisive. For the beginning it is best to choose a longer board with a lot of volume. This will make it easier for you to get your first waves and become familiar with surfing. The Foamy Fun is the best choice for this.

After that, it is worth trying a mini Malibu hardboard like the Icebreaker for long-lasting surfing fun. We also recommend you to choose a long version with a lot of volume.

What else you should know about shapes of a surfboard...

Not only the shape of the whole surfboard affects how your board will behave in the wave. Also the design of the rocker, tail and the rails of a surfboard have a big influence that you should consider in your board choice.

In our shop you will find the relevant icons for each board, so you know how the behaves in the water.

To Rocker or not to Rocker?

Some of you might already know the term rocker from snowboard tech talks or similar…

The rocker describes how much your surfboard is bent between nose and tail. The shape of this bend can significantly influence the behavior of the board in the water. The best way to see the rocker is to lay your board flat on the ground and look at it from the side.

Explaining the rocker of a surfboard
graphic of a surfboard with a low rockerline
Low Rocker

A low shape of the rocker brings you stability above all. This will make take-offs easier and you will be better taken along by waves. In addition, paddling with such a board is not that exhausting.

graphic of a surfboard with a moderate rockerline
Moderate Rocker

A moderately rockered board combines some of the advantages of both shapes and gives you a lot of agility while still being relatively easy to paddle.

graphic of a surfboard with a high rockerline
High Rocker

A strongly rockered board offers you advantages in big waves. You will need more power when paddling, but you will be much more agile in big waves and can use their power better.

Tailshapes... Playfulness or stability?

As you have already seen with the general shapes of surfboards, there are also various established variations for the shape of the tail, which change the behavior of your board in the wave. 

The following shapes belong to the most important ones, which you will also find on our boards with the following icons.

KANOA Surfboard Tails
Graphic of a surfboard with a rounded tail
Round Tail

A round tail makes your board very maneuverable. The round shape allows the tail to move well in the water, which is why the board is slightly less stable than other shapes of the tail. 

However, this does not mean that the whole board has less stability in the wave. Only when your weight is on the tail, it becomes easier to move the board.

Graphic of a surfboard with a squash tail
Squash Tail

The Squash Tail is characterized by the fact that the edge is somewhat flattened compared to the round version. This gives you a balanced mix of agility and stability of the board. Especially recommended for advanced surfers who are just practicing their turns. 

The Eggplant with its squash tail is the ideal choice for this.

graphic of a surfboard with a fish tail
Fish Tail

Fish Tails have always been popular and probably will be forever. This tail shape gives the board more lift in the back, which is why it is well caught even by small waves.

And still, with a fish tail you have enough control for sharp turns in medium sized waves. 

There is also a distinction between modern fish tails and the retro fish variant. 

While the Fish’n Chixx has a modern fish tail, you get the absolute retro experience with the Twice Fish.

graphic of a surfboard with a diamond tail
Diamond Tail

The Diamond Tail got its name from its sharpened shape. 

This makes the board to move quickly when you want it and behaves very rotationally in the water.

Thus, it will also move a little less smooth and stable in the water. 

Rails of four KANOA Surfbaords
The shape of the rails... aggressive or forgiving?

Not to forget, the shape of the rails also has a big influence on the behavior of your board as well. Anyone who has ever held a surfboard in their hands knows that these lateral vanishing lines are always somewhat differently shaped. 

Sometimes they are strongly rounded and very thick. But on another board they are thin and very sharp. 

What it is all about, you can identify with our products by the following icons.

Rails of four KANOA Surfbaords
Graphic of a surfboard with thick rails
Thick Rails

Round rails along the outline of the surfboard give the board especially stability in the water. Also, the board will forgive more mistakes, making round rails suitable especially for beginners. The Icebreaker has just such forgiving round rails and will break the ice between you and the waves. Promise!

However, boards with round rails will also move a little slower in the wave.

graphic of a surfboard with medium rails
Medium Rails

A good compromise to practice your moves in the wave are medium rails. This makes your board much more agile and the rails “bite” better into the wave without losing all stability for take-off and co.

Medium rails, which help you practice turns, can be found at the Eggplant. Just great as a first shorter board.

Graphic of a surfboard with thin rails
Thin Rails

Thin and tapered rails really bite into the wave and allow the board to move fast and tight in the water. 

This allows the surfer a more aggressive and agile surfing style. 

Such rails can be found especially on shortboards like the Battery, which allow you to get everything out of the wave.

The Fin Setup

And now finally, what would a surfboard be without the fins? These make your surfboard move at all and give the board a direction. This makes them just as important as the board itself. 

Here, too, there are different setups that are intended for the respective board and also different inserts in the boards.

grpahic of a surfboard tail with a single-fin setup
Single Fin

A single fin is used primarily on longboards. Such a single fin is usually much larger than the fins that are used in twin fin or thruster setups and thus offer you a lot of stability in the wave. 

However, it is difficult to perform tight turns with a single fin, but the board can build up a lot of speed in the wave.

grpahic of a surfboard tail with a twin-fin setup
Twin Fins

A twin fin setup is mainly used on fish surfboards. These fins are usually smaller but longer than thruster fins.

With a twin fin setup, a board can move agilely in the wave, allowing you to make tight turns and a fairly agile surfing style.

Also, a channel is formed between the two fins, which allows you to build up a lot of speed.

A retro fish surfboard like the Twice Fish is surfed with twin fins, where the board surfs extra playful.

grpahic of a surfboard tail with a 3-fin setup
3 Fins

The classic in the modern surf world. Most shortboards in the lineup today are surfed with the so-called thruster setup, consisting of 3 equal-sized fins. Although you can vary the size of the fins, in the ocean mostly 3 fins of the same size are surfed.

This setup is so popular because it allows a compromise between speed and agility of your board and thus a very versatile surf style.

grpahic of a surfboard tail with a 5-fin setup
3/4 Fins

Shortboard shapes also often have 5 fin boxes. This makes it possible to choose for yourself whether to install 3 or 4 fins. 

In addition, this system also allows the use of only 2 fins. Especially popular with modern fish shapes like the Fish’n Chixx.

The use of 4 fins gives you more grip in the wave than the other fin setups. Your turns will be a bit more sluggish.

With so many influencing factors, how are you supposed to find the perfect board?

Now that’s a lot of information to take into account when choosing a board. So you quickly ask yourself how you should apply all this to find a board.

But it does not always mean, not to know for sure what is right now, that you are wrong immediately.
Even when surfing, you can get used to many conditions. So also to the behavior of your board.

As a beginner, we would pay particular attention to the following:

  • Volume can become your key to success.

    Choose a board with a lot of volume to start with. This will make your take offs easier, you’ll get more waves because the board will be carried better and your board will forgive you more mistakes because you can shift your weight better.
     

  • Yes, size matters! Especially for beginners.
    A long and wide board will support your surf at the beginning. This will give you a lot of stability during take-offs and you will progress faster.
     
  • Softboards will lift your progress up.
    You get quite a bit of stability from the floatation of a softboard. In addition, the risk of injury is much lower with softboards. This can help you in the beginning.
If you follow these tips for the beginning, nothing will stand in the way of your surfing progress. And even if you get better, you’ll still enjoy a big board with lots of volume as soon as the waves get a little smaller.
 
Also check out our Ocean Boardguide and get our recommendation for your skill level.