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Surfboards iconically come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. The experienced surfer would have a board preference based on the type of surfing they are performing and typically has more than one. For the novice wave breaker, the array of surfboard choices may seem intimidating, however, all boards can be broken down to basic anatomy.

 

The Basics

All surfboards consist of these common parts and pieces, they will just vary in shape and size from board to board. Starting at the front of the board is the nose. A sharper nose is utilized by more avid surfers as it helps to break through the water and increase speed, while a rounder nose contributes to stability on board for a beginner.

The rail of the surfboard is the side that surfers can hold onto while lifting themselves onto the board. Professional surfers will also grab the rail of the board to help them perform tricks that require a quick turn on the wave.

The bottom curve on a surfboard is referred to as a rocker. A board with a greater curve on the bottom will provide ease of movement in the water but will not propel through the water as quickly as one with a looser rocker on the bottom.  

Located on the bottom of the surfboard is the fin. The fin of the board cuts through the water, aiding the surfboarder in sharper turns and tricks on a wave. While most boards commonly have 1 fin, there are boards that come with anywhere up to 4.

The tail of the surfboard is, not surprisingly, located at the very end of the board. Just like the nose, the tail can come in various shapes and sizes to better promote the style of surfing.

 

Types of boards

The longest and most common board for beginners is the longboard. Longboards typically measure around 8’ to 9’ in length and have a rounded nose and tail, with any number of fins. Due to their length, they are much easier to stabilize and stand on, however, they are not meant for quick maneuvers or cutting through waves.

The gun is a close comparison to the longboard in size, ranging from 6’ to 10’ in length. Opposite of the longboard, however, is the gun’s nose and tail, which come to a point rather than a rounded edge. These boards provide the stability and ease of paddling from their length, with an added durability when surfing bigger waves.  

A fish is a type of shortboard that is wider and thicker, like a longboard, to provide the surfer with ease of catching and riding small and medium-sized waves. This is an ideal board for those who are practicing tricks on smaller waves.

The most common surfboard among professionals is the shortboard, also known as the thruster. The shortboard is a shorter, more narrow board that provides optimal speed and maneuverability. Due to the size, it is not the best board for beginners as paddling and standing on the shortboard is much harder compared to other options.