You’re ready: you already have your surf lessons scheduled, ready to dive into the water, and now you need to rent your first board.
Did you think about the board that you will use when surfing? Although the board does not make the surfer, it is our tool in the sea. Having a suitable board is key for those first days.
Here are some recommendations to rent your first board, based on my experience as a beginner surfer:
The surfboard should feel comfortable for you. It is normal that the first days to experience difficulty when standing on the surfboard and you gotta pace yourself. Some people pop up on their board on the first class, on the first wave; others pop up at the end of their first class, others in their fifth class. Focus on yourself and how you feel on the board. Do you stay afloat on it? Do you feel safe? Can you keep a minimum balance when trying to stand up?
And most important… Are you having fun?
3. The more stability, the better
An ideal initial board to learn to surf is usually a longboard or a funboard – the material is thick and the foam of the funboard makes them an ideal option when you are taking your first jumps in the sea, since they are softer than the usual fiber of regular and lighter boards.
Longboards are taller, and give you more stability, which is key when you are learning. The board must be suitable for your height and weight. It’s easy to get frustrated seeing other surfers and wanting to ride a shortboard – the smaller boards with a narrower front and lighter.
It is true, many of us were inspired to surf after seeing women in movies with their shortboards doing wonders when riding a wave… however, when you start you need stability and that is why you need a longboard. Which brings me to my next point:
3. Do not rush. Surfing is a sport that needs patience.
Take into account your possibilities and the time it will take you to learn. Surfing is a wonderful sport precisely because you never stop learning and perseverance pays off. This means that progress is seen little by little.
The thoughts that turn your head when you are the only beginner at sea are normal; it is common to start to get exasperated. Even if you don’t feel like Chloe Calmon or Anne Marie from Blue Crush in your first week or you still have a hard time standing up on the board in first class, believe me that even if you don’t feel it, progress is there, every time you go to classes surfing, every time you put on your leash and go into the water. Remember that.
Although the ideal to have a longboard or a funboard to start with, this is not the scenario in which some of the surfers got started. Many surfers started with the board that someone lent them – often a shortboard – and although it took more time and demanded more balance and frustration is possible.
But always remember the gift of surfing and be very patient with yourself.
4. Don´t be afraid to ask for another board!
Boards are an investment and therefore many surf schools and instructors do not have a great variety. In general, they will give you a surfboard to learn close to what you need.
In my experience for several surf camps and surf schools it is that if the board does not feel ideal or it feels more difficult than usual to pop up on the board, don’t be afraid to change.
I recently had a group class and they gave me a board on which I had a hard time standing up and I started to despair. Switching to a wider funboard was the remedy; I improved quickly and was able to return to the table that was originally assigned to me on day two.