How to choose your surfboard? ( beginners & pros )

 At the beginning of surfing, there weren’t a lot of options to fill your quiver, It was pretty much a big piece of wood from different species of trees that would make the difference from one to another board. Nowadays surfboards come in many shapes, different materials and can be very specific to certain types of waves and styles of surfing.

With the modern evolution of surfing, you can find dozens of different shapes and categories of boards. In this article, we will go through different types of shapes and explain what they are made for, who they are for and why they work better in specific conditions.

We would recommend people to begin their surfing adventure with a longboard or a funboard/ softboard. The reason it is easier to start with is because those boards have more volume than the shortboards and other types of boards ( except the SUP ). Volume is the most important factor when choosing a surfboard for a beginner. A board with lots of volumes will float better which makes it more stable for learners to get to their feet and generate enough speed while paddling to catch the waves. Volume is usually measured in litre. We think a good beginner surfboard should have at least 60 litres of volume

At the Billy store, we often have people coming from a snowboard, kiteboard or other boardsports background and think they can skip the "beginner phase" but most of the time these people are wrong and end up losing much more time than anyone following the basics steps. It doesn't matter how good you are on other boardsports, surfing is unique and you will need the basics to understand the whole philosophy behind it that gives you the opportunity to stand on a wave. ( reading the ocean, generating the speed you need to stand up, rules,... ). So yes! We strongly recommend you to start with a 60+ litter board. 

In this article, we will briefly go through each type of shapes and explain to you who and what they are good for.

1.Longboards ( extreme beginners to experts ).

Usually, you'll find the length of a longboard between 8 to 12 feet long with a lot of volumes. You will be able to generate a lot of speed while paddling and surfing. They are the ideal boards for a beginner to learn how to surf. 

Pros are also seen a lot on longboards, you see them further away than the shortboarders at the line ups as their boards generate enough speed to stand up earlier on the wave when it is not as steep as when it brakes. Mellow and smooth style is associate with the longboard style of surfing quietly often.

  • Easy to catch waves
  • Easy to paddle
  • Very stable
  • You can still surf on the smallest of days
  • Big and fragile, Difficult to travel with.
  • Can’t duck dive
  • Harder to manoeuvre (unless you’re experienced)
  • Expensive
  • 1-6 ft range
  • Slower, easy breaking, crumbly waves
  • Lined up points or reefs with a channel

Our selection of funboards right here! 

Funboards ( Beginners to advanced )The funboard category of surfboards is very wide can include a variety of other shapes and categories such as mini-malibus, softboards, oversized fishes, eggs,...

Funboards are usually boards between 6'8 and 8' with plenty of volumes and give you a buoyancy that is super user friendly and accessible to beginners. This float ability will provide an easy way to generate the speed while paddling and surfing ( like on a longboard ). The smaller size of the board will give you more control to start manoeuvring the board on the water. They are good boards for those who want to learn and getting into the shortboard vibe right away. 

They are also good surfboards if you’re amateur and willing to work your way down from a longboard to a shortboard.

  • Paddles well – easier to catch waves than
  • Wider outline makes for good stability
  • More manoeuvrability than a longboard
  • Works in a variety of conditions
  • Easy to handle
  • A lot of foam so duck diving is not likely an option
  • Doesn’t catch waves as easily as a longboard
  • Doesn’t turn as easily as a shortboard
  • 2-5 ft range
  • Works in a variety of waves but mellow waves are ideal
  • Points, reefs, beaches, all good. Having a channel is a plus

Our selection of funboards right here! 

 3. Shortboards ( intermediates to experts ) 

The shortboards have become the most common boards you'll see wherever in the world you go surf. the typical board with a pointy nose and narrow tail between 5'5 and 6'7 feet.

The perfect toy when you speak about the modern high-performance style of surfing. They are the boards that allow you to push your surf to your limit in critical and hollow waves. Used by the pros in the high-performance surf contest, they will offer you the most ultimate control of your board. 

  • High-performance surfing
  • Lots of drive and ability to generate speed
  • Very manoeuvrable and responsive
  • Aggressive
  • Good for late drops and critical waves
  • You can duck dive larger waves.
  • Less foam = harder to paddle
  • Requires positioning and timing knowledge to catch waves
  • Hard to surf on smaller, mushier days
  • 3 ft - overhead range
  • Punchy, more critical, high-performance waves
  • Points, reefs, beach breaks, your call!

Our selection of shortboards right here! 

4. Fish ( intermediates to experts )

The name Fish surfboards refers to the tail setup of the surfboard. 

What makes a fish surfboard so fun and unique is that it combines a few highly beneficial elements. The idea behind them is to have more buoyancy than a shortboard but is often smaller therefore offers a lot of control. In a few words they are good to catch smaller or flatter waves but their sizes offers a large range of turnability and control in the movements. 

Level: intermediates to Pros

  • Gives you the ability to surf a smaller board on average days
  • Fast down the line and through mushy flat sections
  • Easy to duck dive (if not surfing an oversized fish)
  • Flat rocker makes for easier paddling and increased wave count
  • Enhanced fun factor in average surf
  • Can be difficult to surf on steeper waves (for avg. surfers)
  • Loose and squarely (could also be considered a benefit)
  • you get to compete for waves with longboarders on small days
  • 2-6 ft range
  • Works in a wide variety of conditions
  • Points, reefs, beach breaks, and the rest

Our selection of shortboards right here! 

Guns & Tow-in ( Experts only )

As the sport of big wave surfing evolved, its equipment rapidly progressed to enhance riding performance.


A gun surfboard is much narrower than most surfboards. Big waves are going much faster than smaller waves, and they have a lot more power. They usually are 6ft to 10ft long. Riding big waves on a small board can feel out of control, and it can be difficult to catch waves. Guns are extra-thick, as well as extra-long and this combination helps the board feel secure when things get critical. 


Tow-in surfboards are the weapons of choice for big wave surfers across the globe. They replace the guns that are big when you have a jet ski to pull you into the waves so you have the speed needed to start surfing the wave. 

SUP - Stand up Paddle board ( beginners to experts )SUP surfing is a variation of traditional surfing. Instead of lying prone on the surfboard and paddling with arms to get to the surf zone, SUP surfing allows the participant to stand on the board from the shore and paddle out to the surf zone using a SUP paddle. Once in the surf zone, the rules for surfing still apply. At the SUP surfer's turn, you paddle and steer with the SUP paddle to catch a wave. It is very convenient when the waves are small and mellow but you still want to find a surfing feeling.

This style of surfing is widely used by surfers who want to cruise and a small wave, or pros challenging themselves in big waves. There are many different types of SUP so we will keep a focus on surfboard shapes.

Our selection of shortboards right here! 

There are a few things you should know before paddling out. The Surfers’ Code to maintain some order out there. That's right, before blindly sprinting into the sea, chill out and watch the break from shore for a little while. Stretch a little and observe where and when most people are paddling out and entering the water. Does it look like a current is pulling surfers one way or another? How is the bottom? Are there any submerged rocks or reef to avoid? Where, exactly, is the pack sitting and waiting for waves? Is there a backwash? These are all important things to be aware of before jumping in. 

 Once you paddle out there, sit to the side for a little and watch where people are catching waves. Don’t paddle straight into the pack or to the peak and get to the best spot. That would be rude for the other surfers that have been waiting there for longer than you. If there is a deeper area where the waves don't break, paddle through there. We call these areas “channels” and you can usually see them from the shore. Never paddle out through the surf or through the lineup. If a surfer is riding a wave and is coming toward you, paddle in the opposite direction of where the surfer is headed. Also, ALWAYS hold on to your board. Ditching it can seriously injure someone behind you.

Once out there, be respectful. Be polite, don’t be loud, and try not to get in other surfer’s way. Surfers demand respect and being respectful will avoid stupid injuries and problems. 

The main rule when you are about to take off: the person who is closest to the peak ( the white of the wave ) has the right of way, you must leave him the priority. Only one person surfs per wave ( unless agreed to share with a friend ). 

If you’re at a surf break with one peak wait your turn, and move toward the peak on rotation with others. It’s bad form to paddle around surfers to get into position ( sneaking on others ).

 Thanks a lot for reading us, we hope this article was useful to your choice of boards!



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