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Boards are not only fascinating but also a mystery. Beginner, intermediate, and even advanced surfers (yes, also advanced surfers) can benefit choosing and using the right surfboard. However, let us point out a few key things that may help.
Think about what a surfboard is for. Two things:
So, without waves, there is no fun. The rule of thumb to avoid the bottleneck of a board not getting you into the wave is: „If you can’t catch waves go on a bigger board.“
Rob Machado says „foam is your friend“ and I think it couldn’t be summed up better.
Here is why:
A board too small will decrease your wave count which results in much slower progress, low confidence in your surfing abilities, and way less fun. On the other side, a board too big will only require you to surf with better technique to perform maneuvers properly and to turn more foam and weight of the bigger board. If you ask me, it is an easy choice.
For a long time, the only way boards were measured was length, width, and thickness (LxWxT). Since width and thickness are only measured at the widest point it is a very inaccurate measure to determine the volume (how well the board floats). So, the board volume can actually differ dramatically within the same parameters of LxWxT.
Luckily, today it is easier than ever to find and recommend a good board volume for surfers depending mostly on weight and skill level.
The easiest way of measuring volume in relation to your body weight is the Guild Factor (GF) which was developed by shaper Whitney Guild. It is presented as a specific percentage for each skill level in relation to your body weight in kg:
For example, a recommended GF of 42% means the board volume should be 42% of your body weight in kg. If your weight is 75 kg the recommended board volume with a GF of 42% is 31.5 liters (= 75 x 0,42).
So, the question is: What is my personal GF depending on my skill level?
To find out your skill level you can do the SURF 6 Pro Surf Coach Assessment for FREE. You will not only learn more about your surfing and get recommendations on how you can improve the five skills that hold you back the most. But you will also better understand what kind of Guild Factor is appropriate for your skill level.
Depending on your assessment results and skill level these are recommended ranges of your Guild Factor:
You still struggle with your take-off and surf mostly down the line. In the SURF6 Pro Surf Coach Assessment report the recommended skills you should work on are Take-Off, Creating Speed, Finishing and Bottom Turn.
Your take-off is more consistent and you may attempt first top-to-bottom surfing. In the SURF6 Pro Surf Coach Assessment report the recommended skills you should work on are Take-Off, Creating Speed, Finishing, Bottom Turn, and Cutback.
This range is where most surfers are in. You catch most waves and surf first top-to-bottom maneuvers down the line. In the SURF6 Pro Surf Coach Assessment report the recommended skills can still be Creating Speed, Finishing, Bottom Turn, Cutback (depending on how strong your foundations are). On top you are going to see one of these as recommended skills: Carve, Snaps, and Re-Entries.
When you are not very fit and haven’t a lot of paddle strength (desk-workers, weekend warriors, landlocked surfers) you should aim for the upper end of the range. When you are fit you are more likely to surf a board on the lower end of the range.
You are a fit, confident surfer in most conditions and most likely display good top-to-bottom basics. In the SURF6 Pro Surf Coach Assessment report the recommended skills you should work on depending on how strong your foundations are can still be Creating Speed, Finishing, Bottom Turn, Cutback. But more likely you are going to see Carve, Snaps, Re-Entries, Floaters and Advanced finishing as recommended skills.
Once you have identified your GF range, multiply the higher and lower percentage value with your weight in kg. The result will give you a volume range in liters for your surfboard. Use this knowledge and check whether you are riding enough foam. In case you are surfing not enough volume try rental boards that have more volume within your range. After adjusting to a different board (make sure to surf it a couple of times) you will soon surf more waves and have more fun. And isn't it all about fun in the first place…
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