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Selecting the Perfect Surfboard

by Boardcave on April 17, 2015

The factors that effect your board choice

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert surfer, choosing the right board for your abilities and the conditions is crucial to having a successful, fun surfing experience.

The intermediate to expert surfer is generally going to have a pretty good idea about what board they need to take out in any given wave type or conditions. The novice surfer, however, probably doesn’t have this knowledge yet and may not realize what they need.

There is no particular surfboard that is perfect for one person on all types of waves or conditions. If you are going to be surfing on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to build yourself a quiver of different boards of all shapes and sizes.

If you’re just starting out, you’re probably only going to need one good beginner surfboard. However, in no time, you’re going to advance enough to refine your surfboard choice to ensure you avoid surfing the wrong board.

Mick checking out a DHD Skeleton Key
Mick checking out a DHD Skeleton Key.

Things to consider when choosing a board

There are a number of factors you have to consider when choosing the right surfboard for any given day.

First and foremost, your skill level as a surfer. Are you a beginner, an intermediate or an expert surfer? There’s no point surfing a high performance shortboard if you can’t stand up.

Next would be your fitness level. Even at advanced levels of surfing, if you are not particularly fit, you may need to consider a board with a little more volume to maximize your wave count and session length.

Your size – in particular your height and weight – which will help determine how much volume you would need for a particular style of board.

And last but not least, the type of waves you will be surfing. Are they going to be fast and hollow or soft, slow and crumbly? Different waves are going to need different boards.

All of these factors are going to play a role in your surfing performance. While you may already consider each of these things at one time or another make sure you revisit these ideas when selecting your next surfboard for your dream quiver.

choosing the right surfboard
There’s no end to surfboard sizes and shapes. From left to right: Vampirate Surfoards Surf & Destroy, Chemistry Surfboards Flash Point, Stamps Surfboards The Scarecrow, Panda Surfboards The Norts, Emery Surfboards Nemesis, DHD Surfboards Pocket Knife, Haydenshapes Shred Sled, Canvas Surfboards Tube Shooter and the Nation Surfboards Hot Doggin’ Loggin’.

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Skill Level

As mentioned above, a beginner may only need one good beginner surfboard to start out with until they are at a certain level of progression.

The beginner is going to want to look for something that has a lot of volume and stability. For most, the perfect starter surfboard is going to be something somewhere around 7-8 foot in length, at least 22 inches wide and around 3 inches thick. The Sano Free from Canvas Surfboards is a typical shape that comes to mind.

A soft top board is usually preferable for the beginner as they are easier on the body and provide a lot of float and stability.

A board this size will provide plenty of volume to help them paddle into waves, but is not too long as to make it difficult to make it out into the lineup in the first place. The extra width and thickness combined with the outline of these boards (wide round nose and wide tail) will provide lots of stability when trying to stand up on the wave.

Once you’re a little more comfortable in your surfing, you can look into a fiberglass board and begin to scale down in size or shape to suit your abilities and the waves.

Fitness Level

Your fitness level will also play a key factor in determining what you will want to surf. I’m a better surfer today than I was 10 years ago, however, I’m also not as fit as I used to be.

My boards have also gotten a little thicker and a touch wider than they used to be. This could just be me being more realistic about my surfing, but it certainly helps keep my wave count up.

Keeping my boards on the thicker side and tapering down to a nice rail ensures I can continue to paddle into more critical waves while still keeping my performance levels high.

For me, getting into the waves has become more of a challenge than in days gone past, yet I still want to surf higher-performance boards once I’m in a section. Because of this, it becomes very important that I pick the right board for my fitness level.

Age also plays into the fitness category. Take two surfers surfing the same wave at the same advanced level one a 25 year old and the other a 45 year old. Both surfers are the same height and weight, yet you’ll probably find that the boards they are surfing are very different.

In many cases, the younger surfer will have more endurance than the older surfer. Even though both are likely to be strong paddlers, the older surfer will tend to tire faster out there.

With a little more volume under him, the 45 year old will be able to stretch his session out for the same length as the 25 year old as he won’t have to spend as much energy paddling into the waves.

Height and Weight

Your Height and Weight definitely play a key part in determining what boards you’re going to want to ride. This is one of the first elements that we think about and its what many volume calculators rely on so heavily. The problem with the majority of volume calculators is that they don’t take anything else into consideration. Our patented Board Engine considers the other factors including ability, age, style of board and the waves you surf to give you better results.

This isn’t to say height and weight aren’t important, they definitely are! However they should be considered amongst a range of other factors. Your size is a crucial element when it comes to choosing your surfboard. For most, it’s a no-brainer that the bigger you are, the bigger your board will have to be.

This can be seen in every surfer across all levels of ability. Mick Fanning, standing at 161 lbs and is 5’10, is going to need different equipment than the larger Brett Simpson standing at 179 lbs and is 6’1. Mick could get away with something in the 26L of volume like his 5’10 2015 MF Ducks Nuts. Simpo, on the other hand, may like to go for something around 28L like the Stamps Scarecrow. Both of these boards are suited for average conditions and are well rounded boards.

dhd ducks nuts vs stamps scarecrow
The DHD Surfboards Ducks Nuts Mick Fanning Replica (above) and the Stamps Surfboards Scarecrow (below).

Wave Type

Last, but by no means the least, is the wave type you like to surf. This is the exact reason why the vast majority of surfers own a quiver of boards. Wave types and conditions are so different from place to place and day to day that having a quiver is essential if you plan on surfing a lot.

Living in Dana Point, I have access to a wide variety of waves. I can run down to Doheny and am sure to get a wave at a relatively wind protected spot. This is also a smaller wave day-to-day than other spots in the area.

85% of the time, I am going to grab a longboard like the Piñata by Canvas. When it does get bigger, it’s very rarely a hollow wave. This means I’m going to want to step down off the longboard and pull out a fish or a stubby style board like the Los Dos from Nation Surfboards or the Grave Digger by Vampirate.

Close by, Salt Creek beach is right up the road. At a wave like this, I may want to get something with a little more performance to it that’s going to help me step it up a little like the Boombastik by Chemistry Surfboards, or if I am feeling groovy something like Album Surfboards The Disc.

This is why it’s important to grow your quiver of boards as your level of surf progresses. Doing this will allow you to maximize your water time and give you a better understanding of how the wave works with your surfboard.

the cool story by nation surfboards in a barrel
The Nation Surfboards Cool Story showing off how well it goes in barrels. Photo by @ashlyd.baxter.


If you are looking to maximize your water time, it’s important to look at all the attributes that contribute to your board selection and quiver. Your skill, fitness and body shape will set you in the right direction, and when you combine that with the waves you plan on surfing, you should be well on your way to building a dream quiver that will be the envy of all your friends.

All of these factors are important to take into consideration while it’s up to you to determine what you want out of surfing. If you only have time to get out once a week or maybe even month and usually go to the same spot, pick your board accordingly and aim for one that suits the spot as well as the variety of conditions that you will find day to day.

If you like surfing different spots with varying wave types, you will not be disappointed in having a quiver of various boards. This will ensure that no matter what wave conditions you find, you’re going to have something to ride and get the most out of your surfing.

Like the article? Hate the article? Let us know in the comments below. Like us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with the latest surfboard offers, popular models and new models being released on Boardcave. What do you consider most when choosing your surfboard? Let us know in the comments below!

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Are you surfing the wrong board?

by Boardcave on March 31, 2015

How Surfboard Volume is changing the industry

Recently there’s been a big push by shapers and surfers to involve Volume Metrics and Surfboard Volume Calculators to really dial in their surfboard quiver.

Since CAD (Computer Assisted Design) files and programs have progressed into the surfboard shaping bays, volume has become a more measurable and integral part of the design process. Volume is now seen as essential for establishing the best board for a surfer’s age, ability and wave type they surf most.

Elite surfers like Kelly Slater, Carissa Moore, Mick Fanning and Steph Gilmore can feel the difference when even as little as half a Liter is changed in their equipment. Even this tiny change in volume can really impact high performance surfing especially in high performance boards.

While some beginners may not even think about the volume of a surfboard, they’ll sure learn quick how important the right equipment can be. After they’ve watched their friends riding waves all the way to the beach while they’re still struggling to paddle, they’ll see why finding the right beginner surfboard for them can be the difference between sticking with surfing or giving up early.

But how do you find the right volume for you?

Darren Handley of DHD Surfboards and Mick Fanning checking surfboards
Mick and Darren checking out their DHD Surfboards handy-work.

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Knowing Your Surfboard Volume

Determining the right volume for your surfboards requires thinking about many different factors. Your age, surfing ability, frequency and the types of waves to surf are all important in finding the right surfboard volume.

External measurements of a surfboard are a great starting point, but the distribution of the foam through the entire outline can also have major impacts on the performance of your surfboard.

By knowing your volume, you can help determine the right equipment for your level of surfing. Luckily, there is plenty of information out there today including volume calculators and volume charts to help you determine the volume that is best for you. However, lots of these volume calculators can be fairly general and often only take your weight into consideration.

What if there are other factors involved?

The Board Engine is an advanced calculator that gives you examples of boards and takes your age, level of fitness, surfing ability, type of waves and style of board you prefer all into consideration.

Take a simple example. Say you have two people, one of them is 25 and the other is 60. Even if they’re both 5’10 and 180 LBS, they probably shouldn’t be surfing the same board. Surfboard volume calculators need to take this information into consideration.

Finding the Volume of a Surfboard and the Use of CAD programs

Up until recently, volume was considered without consistently being measured. You used to just feel the rails and throw the board under your arm and that would give you an idea of how she was going to float.

People still swear by this and anyone who’s been around surfing will tell you it’s still a good system. If you have some surfing experience, you will always be able to use the feel test to understand to some extent how that board will perform for you.

The use of CAD systems have created a situation where shapers can easily refine a surfboard’s volume without having the hassle of using a displacement tank. This makes it easier to find the right dimensions and dial in equipment for your optimal performance. As mentioned before, advanced surfers can feel the difference in as little as half a Liter change in volume.

So now that we can find and refine the volume of a surfboard easily, we have to consider how surface area, outline and distribution of foam relates to the surfboard volume.

Ryan Engles of Canvas Surfboards handshaping surfboards
Canvas Surfboards head shaper Ryan Engles getting his hands dirty on a custom surfboard.

Volume and the Shape of a Board

Your surfboard may look bigger, but that doesn’t mean it floats better. A 6’2 short-board could very well have less volume than a 5’4 small wave machine.

Take a look at two boards with similar dimensions.

Let’s say both are 5’8 x 20″ wide (at widest point) and 2.5″ thick (at thickest point). The first board (no. 1) has a pulled in tail, while the second board (no. 2) has a wider tail. Board no. 1 has a refined, pulled in nose, while the second board’s nose is more round. Board number 2 is going to have significantly more volume than board number 1 because of it’s outline.

surfboard volume comparison canvas vs album
Board Comparison: Canvas Surfboards Yoshi on the left and Album Surfboards Freeform on the right.

This does not mean that one board is better for you than the other.

Board number 1 is likely to give you a bit more performance in your short-board that will go well in steep, hollow waves.

Board number 2 is probably more of a grovel board – like the Panda Egg or the Nation Chub – for softer waves with less push.

Finding your right volume will include a combination of board dimensions and the volume combined with the surface area while taking into account your age, ability, fitness and types of waves you surf.

But don’t just stick with one volume for all your boards either.

In good, quality waves, too much volume will hurt your performance. Yes, you’ll find paddling into the waves easy, but setting your rail and then transitioning from rail to rail will be difficult. In these circumstances, you may find surfing something like an Emery Nemesis, Album Context or a DHD Sweetspot will give you better results.

Similarly, in less powerful and softer waves, if your board doesn’t have enough volume, your wave count is going to go down. Bogging your rails and sinking into the wave could even ruin your session. These kind of waves call for a mush machine like the – Album Swing or the Stamps FX – to keep you going.

You really need to find a happy balance between your type of equipment you use and the waves you surf.

Construction and Materials

different surfboard construction types
The boys from the left: Haydenshapes Hypto Krypto, The Panda Norts, Chemistry’s Wide J 6, Stamps Grinder X, DHD DX1.

There is plenty of speculation about the construction of a surfboard and it’s relationship to surfboard volume. Some people claim that EPS and Epoxy boards give you more ‘float’ on the water and that you feel like you’re sitting much more on top of the wave than on a standard Polyurethane and Polyester board.

While it still remains a contentious topic, both styles remain extremely popular for differing reasons. My epoxy boards definitely feel lighter than my poly boards, but does this actually impact on how much they float?

Do CAD programs and displacement tanks really knows the difference between two constructions?

The thing to remember is that while both constructions will have the same (or very similar) volumes, your performance is going to change. This has nothing to do with the volume of your board, but instead, the weight of the board.

You will see that while paddling around the line up and your paddling into waves is very similar between the two, your performance ON the wave is going to change. By using the weight of a poly board you can get down the line easier while using a lighter epoxy board will help you whip around turns and get some airs. This is just one way their performance differs.

When the conditions aren’t great, you can also find that the poly board’s extra weight will help get through choppier water instead of leaving you bouncing around the wave on something lighter.

The Verdict

Don’t waste your time surfing with the wrong equipment!

Using more advanced volume calculators like our Board Engine you can take into consideration many of the variables needed to determine what type of equipment you should be looking for. This is going to help set you in the right direction.

All the tools are out there to help you dial in your ideal board or boards – because everyone should have a quiver!

Use the tools and with some common sense, experience, and your shapers knowledge to help determine construction, and other helpful tips, you will be well on your way to building the quiver of your dreams.

Share your thoughts and experiences about surfboard volume in the comments below! To keep up to date with The Surfers Corner latest articles, make sure you follow us on the Boardcave Facebook Page and on our Boardcave Instagram.

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Calculate your Surfboard Volume – The Board Engine

Board Engine – Find your Surfboard Volume

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Use our Patent Pending technology as a "GUIDE" to help you find the perfect surfboard: Get prescribed a selection of relevant surfboard models and sizes from industry leading surfboard manufacturers. Compare, customise and buy your perfect board, picking it up from your local shaper or having it delivered safely to your door. Please Note: The Board Engine is in place as a guide only and is constantly being refined and updated with reviews and information to improve its recommendations for a large range of surfers. Read more about Surfboard Volume for further information. Help us improve the Board Engine and Contact Us Here if you are unhappy with your results.

Inside Out

by Tommy Barrels on April 23, 2014

Alex and Koa Smith score in Mirconesia. Watch the boys enter some pumping blue caves with some dope POV footage.

Dane Reynolds Dirty Dozen

by Tommy Barrels on April 22, 2014

It’s not news that Dane Flipping Reynolds can surf. Dane is one of the best surfers in the world, when you watch him surf you simply get stoked. The mix of speed, power and his general go for broke attitude makes us and many others froth out on any of his clips. Watch this re-edit of some of the best of Dane Reynolds and try not get too excited, yew.

2 Days Dusty Payne

by Tommy Barrels on April 16, 2014

Dusty Payne is one of those surfers that disappear for a bit. You don’t hear or see much and then BAM you see their latest video segment. Their powerful and versatile surf skills quickly refresh your memory as to why they were the first surfer from Maui to qualify for the world tour. Dusty is one heck of a surfer and we are frothing to see more and more of his latest interweb segments, yew.

Golden Sunshine

by Tommy Barrels on April 10, 2014

Boardcave-Surf-Trip Golden Sunshine is a Queensland surf trip between two iconic Queensland surf towns. Accompanied by Reis Paluso from Korduroy TV, surfer Otis Carey and film maker Mick Soiza we hit the road in search of waves and general good times. After picking up Otis from Coolangatta airport we quickly made our way to Brisbane to the Castlemaine Perkins Brewery where we were greeted with a pallet full of Corona Extra. After packing the essentials, we where off down the Bruce Highway in hope of clear skies and clean turquoise waves.

We landed at the Outrigger Noosa Little Hastings in one of their secluded villas set amongst the trees above Noosa Headland and Little Cove. With easy walking distance into the town and a nearby drive to the many surf spots, we had everything we need.

photo IMG_2626 DSC_9694 Trip_08_Mick DSC_9654

Noah Beschen PLAY

by Tommy Barrels on April 8, 2014

Noah Beschen blew our minds in his latest clip. The clip’s title “PLAY” was spot on, they could have even called it REPLAY. This kid at 12 years old is on fire, imagine in 10 years time at 22. Not many super groms are as modest or have style way beyond their years. We along with the surf world cannot wait to see this kid develop into one of the world’s best.

Water by Maassen

by Tommy Barrels on April 3, 2014

Morgan Maassen knows how to document stoke. Watch his short edit on his adventures in the water. Turn up your speakers or head phones and go on a little journey into the ocean. Get your dose of tropical blue in this magical edit. More commonly known for his photos Morgan has a unique photographic flare that has been transferred into this edit, enjoy.

Rio 2016 – Surfing Olympics

by Tommy Barrels on April 1, 2014

Surfing-Olympics-Mick-Fanning The International Olympic Committee have just announced in Brazil that surfing will now be included in the summer 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. Due to the recent advancement of wave pools, surfing can now be judged fairly in a controlled environment. With over 130 surfing nations around the world, it was just a matter of time for surfing to be included in the summer olympics. President of the International Olympic Committee, Mr Thomas Bach said “Surfing is a loved international sport that will be a great addition to the summer olympics in Rio 2016. Mr Bach said himself and the committee believe surfing will bring new Olympic fans of a younger generation that will ultimately include a great selection of competitive athletes from Australia, USA, Portugal, Brazil, Spain and many other surfing nations.

Jordy Ripping Smith

by Tommy Barrels on March 31, 2014

Jordy at home in Durban doing what he does best. Jordy is in form this year and it’s going to be great to see how he performs throughout the 2014 season. Jordy has his equipment dialed with his Al Merrick quiver combined with his Futures Fins, both the updated AM2 Futures and his signature Jordy Smith Futures template.