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The importance of shape

Here’s the million dollar question for most surfers: How do I get the perfect surfboard? Or is it, how do I get the perfect surfboard for a particular wave? 

While the shape of one’s surfboard can make a world of a difference on a wave, so does the wave itself. Take Trestles for example. You can surf your favorite short board at a reef break in Hawaii, then surf Trestles on the same board and find that you can’t surf at all. Some waves (like Lowers) you may want a wider, shorter, squatter board. It is a much slower wave with plenty of open face, which is one of the reasons it’s one of surfing’s most progressive waves.

At this year’s 2012 Nike Lowers Pro, many surfers had some sophisticated surfboards.  “I think it’s really important to know about what you’re riding, that helps. But I also think the shaper knows more than you do, and it’s their job to know what they’re making, so it’s kind of a mixture of both,” says professional surfer Nat Young. It is evident when a surfer is on a magic board. When surfer and his board are in sync, it looks effortless. But when a the board is wrong for the surfer, it can hinder the performance of a free surf or the results in a contest.

Most professional surfers can average over 150 surfboards in one year from board sponsors. For the rest of us, that jaw-dropping amount is closer to two or maybe three surfboards per year if we are lucky. With a sluggish economy and rising prices for cloth, resin, blanks, epoxy, and other glassing material, the price of a surfboard has drastically increased. In 2005, the average price of a 6ft epoxy surfboard was $525.00. That same board now can be easily sold at surfboard shops for over $625.00.

Labor costs for sanding, glassing, and other workmanship vary from shaper to shaper, so it is important to do your own research. As a consumer and a surfer, you might want to start with your friends. Ask them if you can exchange boards for a surf session and try their board out on a wave or two and see how you like it. Second, go to your local surf shop and price some of the boards that are out in the showroom. Shop around at least at two or three shops to get a good average cost of a surfboard. Most professional shapers get their name out on the market by shaping quality boards for surfers that rip. Sometimes these boards don’t quite make it to contest and only get ridden a few times. Many times you can find a quality used surfboard if you ask for help from a board specialist. You may also know a shaper. A custom hand crafted surfboard can also be very beneficial to stepping up your game.

Just like professional surfers, the only way you can really find the best board for you is trial and error. You may find that you like the concave on one board, the rocker on the other, the tail of another. It may be good idea to keep record of your surf boards with pictures, dimensions, what you liked about it, what surf it was good or bad in, and where you surfed during those times. Who knows, a combination of your favorite surfboards may be what’s missing in your quiver for you to lay it on rail!


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