Best Beginner Surfboards 2021 – South Bay Board Co.
Young or old – timid or adventurous – deep pockets or not; as exhilarating as it may seem, if you’re new to surfing then it can be a tad daunting and a little tough in knowing where to start.
We were all beginners at one point though, so unless you have some genuine challenges with your mobility, it really is never too late to learn. But where do you start? Sure you can wing it, buy yourself a board and blindly tackle the waves with little to no success. There‘s a far more sensible way however, so below we’ve covered off the key bases that will help you find your feet in no time.
There are a whole bunch of considerations here but in the first instance you really want to understand the core characteristics of a surfboard and not get overly adventurous.
When it comes to learning to surf, bigger = better. Why? Well larger boards, while also having their downsides, provide a more stable and buoyant surface for you to find your feet and put you into waves. Stability and buoyancy are governed by the boards construction and dimensions.
If we take buoyancy which translates into how much the board will float when there is a load on it, this is determined by the boards volume which is measured in Litres (L). Larger boards will have a greater volume but as a general rule of thumb, if the volume of the board is similar to your weight in kilograms (KG) then this is considered to be a nice guide for beginners.
The 8’ Verve recommendation below for instance has a volume of 80 Litres so if you weigh 80 KG (176 lbs), this will be a good option for you. The boards capacity in this example is 200 lbs so there will be no issues here with buoyancy. The more proficient you become, the better you’ll be able to tackle smaller boards with lower volume levels which will offer a more responsive and agile ride. For another day though.
The length and width of the board are also key variables to consider. If the surfboard is 2’ to 3’ taller than you are and approximately 2’ (+/- 24”) wide, then this will give you ample room to position yourself, pop-up, find your balance and tackle what Mother Nature has to offer. Temper your expectations mind you, baby steps at first.
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It may not seem like there is a great deal to it, but surfing can be difficult to pick up and is one of the more challenging sports to master. It’s a challenging and technical water sport where the line between a successful ride and a face plant is very thin.
Understanding the basics from the outset and not picking up bad habits will see you get there a lot sooner than later. Learning the basic techniques and safety precautions is really important. If you can afford to take a few lessons with a surf coach or instructor then great. If not, an experienced friend with a bit of patience will definitely come in handy.
While you don’t need to be a ripped athlete, having a basic level of fitness is important. Old schoolers who have mastered the waves can get away with it better than most, but if you’re new to surfing and still picking up the basics, then you’ll quickly realise that it can be fairly taxing on the body. If you’re carrying an extra 100 lbs or are a pack a day smoker, then you may want to stick to the kiddy pool.
Having a strong core for balance, flexibility and mobility for agile movement, upper body strength for paddling and pop-ups as well as a reasonable level of stamina and endurance are all important traits that should be developed before you take to the water. SURFERTODAY’s Complete Guide to Surf Training offers some great tips and exercises on pre-paddle stretching, mobility, strength training and more. A great guide so well worth reading.
Location / Conditions
You should never under estimate the importance of knowing the weather and water conditions or where you plan on surfing. If you are taking lessons then this is something that your instructor should cover off.
In the first instance when you are learning, surfing beach breaks is normally the best approach. Not only will this give you easy access when you are entering the water, when you do take a spill in shallower waters, then falling on sand is a lot friendly than landing on rocks or reefs. This will not always be the case as you can still get sand bars, strong rips and challenging conditions that will impact your ride.
Importantly, conditions can and do change rapidly from day to day and location to location. Do your research, chat to the locals, read some of the local blogs and forums and monitor the weather. You’ll often hear surfers chatting about water, wind and wave conditions and there’s a very good reason for it. Listen, learn and play it safe.
Understanding the lay of the land so to speak can make the difference between a great session and a potentially dangerous or even life threatening experience. Not dropping in, paddling inside, snaking or ditching your board are just a few of the important ’need to knows’ when you‘re out there. Sharing or giving away waves, getting a feel for who’s in the line up as well as respecting the locals are all useful ways of gaining respect and building up a rapport with other surfers.
The surfing section of our Stand Up Paddle Board Etiquette guide offers some useful tips on how to play nice in the water. Well worth the read.
SBBC Beginner Surfboard Range
Where quality meets value for money. The South Bay Board Co. range of beginner and indeed their broader cross-section of hybrid and performance surfboards represent some of the best of what the surfing industry has to offer. If you are in the market for your first surfboard then there is no better place to start.
- Length: 8’
- Width: 23”
- Thickness: 3”
- Volume: 80 Litres
- Capacity: 200 lbs
- Construction: EPS Core / Bamboo / 6 oz Fibreglass
- Fins: 3 Fin Screw Through Thruster Configuration
- Leash: 8’ Straight Anke Leash
The 8’ Verve, which has been refined and updated over the years, has been one of SBBC’s favourite beginner boards as it has been designed to cater for a wide cross-section of newbie surfers. A favourite amongst surf instructors and coaches given its build quality and beginner friendly nature, the Verve has been designed with a wider profile and thicker rails which make for easier paddling enabling the surfer to get into the wave quicker. The widened chest area assists with easy pop-ups while the thruster fin configuration is ideal for control and basic manoeuvrability.
Board features include: a custom moulded light-weight closed cell EPS form core which is reinforced by a triple stringer system (2 wooden and 1 fibreglass rod). This core is then enveloped with a bamboo wooden layer on both decks, with a further layer of 6 oz fibreglass. The top deck features SBBC’s proprietary custom wax-free finger print textured IXPE foam for added durability and grip while the underside has a diamond-weave HDPE plastic bottom deck to reinforce the board and offer greater glide. With a mild entry rocker (upward turned nose), slight exit rocker and a double concave bottom deck, the Verve channels the water nicely through to the fins for an overall enhanced ride.
Get a visual appreciation of the 8’ Verve with SBBC’s YouTube video HERE.
- Length: 7’
- Width: 22”
- Thickness: 2.85”
- Volume: 49 Litres
- Capacity: 180 lbs
- Construction: EPS Core / Bamboo / 6 oz Fibreglass
- Fins: 3 Fin Thruster FCS Fin System
- Leash: 7’ Straight Ankle Leash
Very similar in its construction to the 8’ Verve, the 7’ Ruccus is again well suited to beginner surfers although it takes on some of the characteristics of more performance oriented surfboards. Shaped like a funboard, the Ruccus has tapered rails, a nose and tail rocker and concaves with a squashed tail that enable more proficient surfers to take advantage of its looser feel to make the most out of bigger surf conditions. Owing to its construction, it also has an impressive weight carrying capacity relative to its volume so as a very light-weight board, its still ideal for teens and kids to learn on.
The boards EPS closed cell core is supported by 2 full length nose to tail wooden stringers with a thick centre board fibreglass rod for added durability and rigidity. This core is sandwiched between 2 bamboo sheets of wood, 2 layers of 6 oz fibreglass, a HDPE slick bottom deck for greater flex and impact resistance as well as SBBC’s custom wax-free fingerprint textured form top deck for grip and under foot comfort. It also has a nice little rubber tail bumper which is great for vertical storage.
For a detailed review on the 7’ Ruccus click HERE.
- Length: 6’
- Width: 21”
- Thickness: 3”
- Volume: 40 Litres
- Capacity: 100 lbs
- Construction: EPS Core / Soft Top
- Fins: 3 x Screw In Soft Top Thruster Set
- Leash: 6’ Straight Ankle Leash
The 6’ Guppy is the ultimate entry-level beginners surfboard best suited for kids and smaller youths. The Guppy is also available as an 8’ board for larger riders. While very much targeted for price conscious first timers in that it does not feature some of the deluxe features that can be found in SBBC’s higher range boards, this is by no means a cheap surfboard when it comes to quality. At 3” thick there is plenty of rigidity and buoyancy with a rounded nose to help with paddling speed. The squashed tail is great for control and stability while the widened chest area makes for easier pop-ups.
Even though the Guppy is an entry-level surfboard, it is still constructed with quality materials and to a very high standard. The core of the board is made from a light-weight custom shaped closed cell EPS foam with dual stringers running the full length of the board. Like other SBBC boards, the bottom deck is made from a diamond weaved slick HDPE plastic for added durability and impact resistance while the lightly textured foam top deck has a great under foot feel ideal for kids and newbie surfers.
See the 6‘ Guppy YouTube video HERE.
- Length: 8’8”
- Width: 23”
- Thickness: 3.25”
- Volume: 86 Litres
- Capacity: 260 lbs
- Construction: EPS Foam / Bamboo / 6 oz Fibreglass
- Fins: 9” Centre / FCS Thruster Tri-Fin Configuration
- Leash: 9’ Shaka Straight Ankle Leash
Perfect for heavier beginners through to seasoned surfers, the 8’8” Heritage stays true to its name taking on many of the characteristics of a traditional round nose longboard. The boards hand tapered rails make for cleaner rail to rail transitions with an entry rocker to minimise pearling and exit rocker for smoother releases and turns. The upgraded fin box and performance 2+1 fins, make for greater fin configurability to maximise manoeuvrability and tracking in the messiest of surf conditions.
The Heritage features many of the same design and build qualities as the 8’ Verve mentioned above which include a nose to tail triple stringer system encased by an EPS closed cell foam core. This core is wrapped by upper and lower deck bamboo sheets and 6 oz epoxy resin laminate. A HDPE plastic diamond weave netting bottom deck provides extra durability and damage resistance while the signature fingerprint textured wax-free IXPE foam top deck rounds out this stylish surfboard.
Unbox the 8’8” Heritage with Alex from SBBC HERE.
|<< Why not mix it up a little and check out our Beginners Guide to Skimboarding >>|
There are of course many other surfboards from reputable manufacturers to choose from. Whether you decide to dip your toe into the water and pick up a cheap second-hand board or indeed step it up a notch and buy yourself a new ride, do your research, seek out views from industry professionals and go from there.
While we may sound a little biased and in truth we probably are, the team at South Bay Board Co. know there stuff and have a great range of beginner surfboards that are definitely worth considering.
We’d love to start a conversation and get your thoughts. If you would like to learn more or share your views, please feel free to leave a comment below and we will get back to you.
Until then, stay safe and get wet.