Surfing Laguna: Select a board

As the warm months of summer and spring approach, it's time to take a quick look at buying a surfboard.

This can be a great experience, especially when you find one that matches a surfer's skill and ability level.

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 and are easy to use, safe and durable. The last thing you want to do is get hurt and discouraged while trying something new.

Q: My child has been using a soft board all summer, is "really good" and now wants a hard board. What should I get?

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.

Most kids want the smallest and sharpest of hard boards, which are typically what top pros and local shredders ride. However, a better transition board is a slightly fuller, thicker and longer short board; these can be called "fun boards." Another great transition board is a "fish." These are typically fatter, with wider noses, swallow tails and twin or quad fin set-ups.

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 start on small boards and work tirelessly at mastering it over many days.

If you don't have that type of free time, it is much easier to start big and soft. Once you gain the needed skills and confidence, you can move to a smaller board and impress your friends accordingly. The other big factors are mental approach and body mechanics; both can be addressed and corrected with practice and surf lessons.

Q: Where can I buy surfboards in Laguna?

A: We have some great 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 a surfing coach and Laguna Beach resident, and father of four surf-crazy sons. He can be reached at or (949) 497-5918.

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