What Size Surfboard Do I Need? (&How to Choose the Right Surfboard Size)

As a surfer (or surfer to be), when the time comes to get a new surfboard, or perhaps your very first board, excitement levels are high, but it is important to buy a surfboard that matches our own dimensions and skill levels.

What Size Surfboard Do I Need?

The surfboard length, width, and volume that best suits you will depend on a few factors such as your skill level, how frequently you surf, your height, your weight, and the type of waves you will be surfing.

The following article will take an in-depth look into what size surfboard is best for you, as well as help answer any questions you may have about your new surfboard size.

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What Size Surfboard Do I Need?

How Do I Know What Size Surfboard to Get?

Before choosing a new surfboard you will need to consider a few factors. The first is your skill level.

These can generally be broken into beginner, intermediate, advanced, and pro, however, the following only consider beginners and intermediates as it’s assumed an advanced or pro surfer has a good idea about what surfboard works for them.

After this, you will need to take into consideration how often you surf. Someone who surfs less frequently will need a larger surfboard.

Lastly, you should consider the type of waves you will be surfing.

If you will be surfing small, rolling, or crumbling waves, then you will want to make use of a longer surfboard with more volume.

If you tend to surf steep waves that break over reefs or curl into barrels then you will need a shorter surfboard

Once you have considered the above factors and have decided which categories you fall into then you can refer to the surfboard size chart below for a reference to which size is best for your height and weight.

Suggested Surfboard Size Chart for Beginners

As a beginner surfer, you will want to use a longer surfboard with a larger volume. This will make your learning process a lot shorter.

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It is suggested for beginner surfers to use a longboard or mini-mal, although it is possible to learn on larger shortboards.

Shortboard Chart for Beginners

Surfer WeightSurfboard LengthSurfboard WidthSurfboard Thickness
45 – 63kg6′2″ – 6′4″18¾″ – 19¼″2¼″ – 23⁄8″
63 – 27kg6′4″ – 6′8″19″ – 20″23⁄8″ – 2½″
72 – 81kg6′6″ – 6′10″19½″ – 20½″2½″ – 25⁄8″
81 – 90kg6′10″ – 7′4″20″ – 21½″2¾″ – 3″
90kg +7′4″ +21½″ – 22½″3″ – 3¼″

Funboard Chart for Beginners

Surfer WeightSurfboard LengthSurfboard WidthSurfboard Thickness
45 – 63kg7′0″ – 7′4″20¼″ – 21″2½″ – 2¾″
63 – 27kg7′2″ – 7′8″20½″ – 21½″2¾″ – 3″
72 – 81kg7′6″ – 8′0   21″ – 21¾″2¾″ – 3″
81 – 90kg7′10″ – 8′4″21½″ – 22¼″3″ – 3¼″
90kg +8′2″ – 8′8″22″ – 22¾″3¼″ +

Longboard Chart for Beginners

Surfer WeightSurfboard LengthSurfboard WidthSurfboard Thickness
< 70kg9′4″22¾″ – 23½″2½″ – 3½″
70 – 90.7kg9′4″- 9′10″22¾″ – 23½″2½″ – 3½″
90.7kg +9′10″+23″+3½″ +

Suggested Surfboard Size Chart for Intermediates

As an intermediate leveled surfer you will have mastered the basics and are likely a much stronger paddler.

This means you will be able to surf on a slightly smaller surfboard, and perhaps start making your way to the larger waves in the backline.

Shortboard Chart for Intermediates

Surfer WeightSurfboard LengthSurfboard WidthSurfboard Thickness
45 – 63kg6′0″ – 6′4″18½″ – 19″2¼″ – 23⁄8″
63 – 27kg6′2″ – 6′6″18¾″ – 19¼″23⁄8″ – 2½″
72 – 81kg6′4″ – 6′8″19″ – 19¾″2½″ – 25⁄8″
81 – 90kg6′8″ – 7′2″19½″ – 20½″25⁄8″ – 27⁄8″
90kg +7′2″ +20″ – 21½″3″ – 3¼″

Funboard Chart for Intermediates

Surfer WeightSurfboard LengthSurfboard WidthSurfboard Thickness
45 – 63kg6′8″ – 7′2″20½″ – 21¼″2¼″ – 2½″
63 – 27kg6′10 – 7′4″20¾″ – 21½″2½″ – 2¾″
72 – 81kg7′2″ – 7′8″21″ – 21¾″2½″ – 3″
81 – 90kg7′6″ – 8′0″21½″ – 22¼″2¾″ – 3¼″
90kg +7′10″ – 8′4″22″ – 22¾″3″ – 3¼″

Longboard Chart for Intermediates

Surfer WeightSurfboard LengthSurfboard WidthSurfboard Thickness
< 70kg9′4″20½″ – 21¼″2¾″ +
70 – 90.7kg9′4″ – 9′10″20¾″ – 21½″2¾″ +
90.7kg +9′10″ +21″ – 21¾″2½″

Is It Important to Choose the Right Surfboard Size?

Although everyone would love to jump onto a performance board and tear up some barrels on their first day in the water, the truth is that it simply doesn’t work like this.

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The larger and thicker your surfboard is, the more buoyant and stable it will be. This makes paddling and catching waves far easier than on a smaller surfboard.

Using a surfboard that is too small for you will make your learning curve extremely steep, and in most cases will result in you becoming frustrated, and potentially giving up.

Similarly, if you try to surf a board that is too long, or thick for you, you will find it difficult to control.

Furthermore, your surfboard should suit the waves you will be riding.

If you plan on paddling out to 2 ft crumbling waves on your shortboard then you should expect to do nothing more than paddle.

Just as a shortboard won’t work in smaller surf, a longboard on steep short waves will be a waste of time.

How to Choose the Right Surfboard Size for You?

Knowing what size surfboard is best for your height is only half of the work when it comes to buying a new board.

Although your height is directly related to the size of your new surfboard, this is not all you need to consider.

Height

As mentioned multiple times, one of the first things you should consider when buying a new surfboard is your height.

Using a surfboard that is too short for you will be near impossible to catch waves on while using a surfboard that is too large will be difficult to turn and control.

Weight

As your height affects the size of the surfboard you are best suited to, so does your weight.

The heavier you are, the more buoyant you will need your surfboard to be in order for you to efficiently plane across the surface of the water.

If you are too heavy for your surfboard then you will find yourself constantly underwater, which will make paddling extremely difficult.

Similarly, if your surfboard has too much volume then you won’t be able to duck dive on it, which will make paddling out the backline on a bigger day near impossible.

Skill Level

As a general rule of thumb, the newer you are to surfing, the larger your surfboard should be.

The reason for this is that on a larger surfboard it is easier to stand (as it is wider and more stable), as well as easier to generate more speed while paddling, thanks to the larger surface area and greater buoyancy.

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As you progress and eventually master the arts of paddling, duck diving, turning, popping up, and wave selection, you can begin to practice on smaller boards.

Frequency 

The more you surf the faster your skills will improve. This is a no-brainer.

If you surf frequently, no matter what your skill level is, you will find that you can successfully surf on smaller surfboards than your friends that surf less often.

If you find yourself in the water a lot then you will keep your newly learned skills up to date and constantly improving.

That being said, if you only surf once or twice a month then you will find it difficult to move onto smaller surfboards as you are needing to refresh your skills and fitness at each session.

Type of Break

The type of break you will be surfing on should also be considered when you buy a new surfboard.

Do you spend most of your time surfing long, rolling waves, or are you more geared towards the fast-paced barrels of a point break?

Different breaks suit different surfboards better. For example, taking a longboard onto a shallow reef is going to do nothing more than leaving you with a snapped surfboard.

On the other hand, take a shortboard into slow-rolling surf with gradual wave faces, then you will find yourself paddling around all day without catching a single wave while all the longboarders cruise past you.

What Is the Best Size Surfboard for a Beginner?

As a beginner surfer, the bigger the board the better. 

Although this won’t suit you for learning to duck dive or turn on a wave, it will help you quickly get onto your feet (and stay there).

Once you have become comfortable with standing on your surfboard and are now addicted to the feeling of surfing, you can begin to decrease the size of your board.

What Is Surfboard Volume?

The volume of your surfboard is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and thickness.

This gives you (in liters) the amount of space inside of your surfboard.

The greater this space (volume) the more buoyant your surfboard will be, and therefore the more it will support you on top of the water.

Furthermore, the shape of your board will affect the volume. A short funboard could have the same volume as a small performance longboard.

These dimensions can usually be found on the underside of your board displayed as follows:

Length X width X thickness / Volume.

Knowing what volume in a surfboard is best for you will make choosing your next board significantly easier.

When Should I Decrease My Surfboard Size?

Moving onto a smaller surfboard is a natural progression, and should be done in small steps.

If you jump from a boat-sized longboard straight to a tiny performance board, you will likely feel as though you are learning how to surf all over again.

As you become comfortable on the board you are using, and feel like you need a challenge, you can think about giving a smaller surfboard a bash.

That being said, there is no point moving to a shortboard if your local break is on a slanting shoreline that produces 2-foot rollers.

The best way to progress is to move slowly towards a shortboard, For example, once you are comfortable on a longboard, move to a mini-mal, and from there to a larger shortboard, and so on.

Is It Possible to Learn to Surf on a Shortboard?

It is possible to learn to surf on any sized surfboard, however, if you choose to learn on a small surfboard then your learning curve will be a lot steeper.

For most people, with the correct surf coach, a  big enough surfboard, and the right waves, they could be standing up and riding a wave within the first hour.

Take the same situation and decrease the surfboard size, and you may find yourself still falling from your board weeks into practicing.

It is always best to start with a larger surfboard and progressively move to smaller ones.

Conclusion

Although everyone may want to jump straight onto a shortboard, the truth is that learning to surf is much easier on a bigger board.

Not only is a bigger board best for learning to surf, but the size of your perfect surfboard depends greatly on your size, weight, skill level, and the waves you will be surfing.

Surfboards are expensive, and choosing a surfboard that is the wrong size will result in a frustrating time in the water, and could possibly lead you to give up on your surf adventure.

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