SURFING LAGUNA: Buying a surfboard

Buying a surfboard for a loved one this holiday season can be great, especially when you find one that matches the surfer’s skill and ability level.

No surfboard wants to live its life in the rafters of your garage, eventually finding itself in the humiliating position of garage sale fodder. (Note: Many a surfboard have been rescued from said life and gone on to enjoy a reasonably happy and productive life, but I digress.)

What size, shape, thickness is right for little Billy or Suzy? How many fins, what color, soft or hard board? What do “foil,” “rocker,” “wide point,” “pulled in,” or “concave” mean?

Answering these questions will help surfers get the maximum enjoyment and value out of their wave riding vehicles.

Here are just a few basic answers to frequently asked questions:

Q: I have never surfed before but want to learn. What type of surfboard should I ride?

A: A nice, big soft board. They provide stability, are easy to use, safe and durable. The last thing you want to do is get discouraged and hurt while trying anything for the first time. Using a soft board makes the process so much friendlier.

Q: My child has been using a soft board all summer and is “really good” and wants a hard board, what should I get them?

A: If they have gotten confident surfing their soft board (they consistently catch waves and ride them on the open face) it might be time to transition onto a hard board. Keep in mind that most kids will want the smallest and sharpest of hard boards, as these are typically what top pros and local shredders ride. However, a better transition board is a slightly fuller, thicker and longer type short board. These boards can be called “fun boards” because they are, how should I say this, fun! Another great transition board is a “fish.” These are typically fatter, with wider noses, swallow tails and twin or quad fin set-ups. Again tons of fun, super fast and easy to use.

Q: I am older than 21, have tried surfing several times and cannot seem to get up and ride the darn thing. Is it my surfboard?

A: There are probably several factors involved, but your surfboard size and shape certainly play a big role in getting to your feet. Many kids (and adults) start on small boards and work tirelessly at mastering it over many hours and days. If you don’t have that type of free time it is much easier to start big and soft.

Note: It’s not as sexy as a smaller and hipper board, but once you gain the needed skills and confidence you can make the move to a smaller board and impress your friends accordingly.

The other big factors are mental approach and body mechanics, both factors that can be addressed and corrected with practice and surf lessons.

Q: Where can I purchase surfboards here in Laguna?

A: We have some great surfers and shops in town. Here is a list of folks to contact for your surfboard needs:

 Nick at Thalia street Surf Shop, (949) 497-3292 or

 Rod at Costa Azul Surf Shop (Rod is a longtime shaper, too), (949) 497-1423 or

 Jason at Laguna Surf and Sport, (949) 497-7000 or

CHRIS WILLIAMS is the father of four surf-crazy sons, a surfing coach and Laguna Beach resident. He can be reached at or (949) 497-5918.

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