I'm having a rough time learning how to surf. I've gone enough times now (20 to 25 times) to notice a consistent point of failure. I've tried laying farther front or farther back, catching the "energy" of the wave sooner or later, and trying to get on one knee earlier. However, the results are consistent; as long as I go forward (as opposed to dragging behind or the wave being mush), I wipe out the same way every time.

For now I'm holding off on saying exactly what that way (of wiping out) is, because I'd like to hear from surfers with enough experience to tell me what should happen hypothetically, instead of tempting everyone to offer connect-the-dots theories (narrative fallacies) after detailing my wipeouts.

I've been riding my roommate's old surfboard, a 6' 4" Fish, 3 in. thick. However my roommate's 6 ft. tall, while I'm only 5' 5" and 103 lbs., so the board's probably too large (and heavy) for me. Still, isn't it supposed to be easier to learn on a larger board? That's why I'm wondering: If there's such a thing as "too large" a surfboard, then in what manner would a novice tend to wipe out on them?

1 Answer 1


To put things in context, lets start by talking about what board is best for beginners. Board choice is one of the most misunderstood topics for beginners. Throwing the question out on google generally results in bad information (often by surf shops and other surf oriented websites!) which doesn't help. Most will mention something like height/weight ratio to length, some length above your head, or say it depends on what style of surfing you want to end up learning. All of this is absolute BS. So what is the best board to start with? Very simply, the thickest, widest, longest board you can physically transport to the beach in or on your vehicle, carry to the water, and reach your arms around to paddle. Why so big? Two reasons:

1) Catch waves. Most important. You can't learn if you don't catch waves. The more waves you catch, the more chances you'll have to stand up and the more fun you'll have, which means the more you'll want to surf. THE #1 problem with shorter boards is that you don't catch enough waves to learn! Longer, flatter, more bouyant boards = faster paddler.

2) Stability. What's easier to stand on. A cheerio from the cereal box or the pool deck of the Queen Mary. Very simple concept. The bigger the board, the easier it is to stand-up, which equals more fun, progression, happiness, desire to keep surfing...repeat.

3) Resale. Ok I said 2 reasons, but this is good too. Don't want to be a 'longboarder?' Doesn't matter what you want to be. Go buy a used longboard. If you don't damage it, you WILL sell it for the same $$ you bought it for!!! A couple dings and you'll get maybe $50 less. Used longboards are hot commodities. Why? Because the vast majority of surfers are beginners, and beginners need longboards to progress.

So to summarize...Buy a used longboard, progress, learning the basics of surfing QUICKLY while having fun. Then if you want to try something different when your ready, sell the board and get something else. This is the equation. How do I know? I've surfed for 20+ years, worked in a surf shop, managed a surfboard factory, worked at a surf school. But don't take my word for it. Instead of googling something like "What surfboard should a beginner start with." Try doing an image search for "surf schools." Scroll down and notice that the vast majority of everything they use is as big as the student can carry.

Now to answer your question. If there's such a thing as "too large" a surfboard, then in what manner would a novice tend to wipe out on them? By my definition a board that is too large for a novice would mean its tough to carry and wrap your arms around it. A novice would most often fall while standing up, or while standing up. Not by fault of the board, but just because he/she is learning! This assumes they are surfing small, easy rolling waves, that are good for learning. If the waves are too big for the beginner, likely he/she would end up pearling (nosediving) too much. However, this would happen on a shorter board as well. The fault is in the waves, not the board. In short, there is no "too large" a surfboard once your out in the water as long as you can physically paddle it.

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    Thanks, @Tanner! It's been nearly a year since I asked the question; I don't know why I never saw a notification about this answer. I did the image search as you suggested and you're absolutely right about schools using longboards—I love that you gave a way to verify evidence ourselves. I thought since I'm only 5' 5", a 6' 4" board was sufficiently long enough, but in these images, the boards are a good 2 to 4 ft. taller than the students. Thanks for giving even the economic side of things—your answer is truly helpful. Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 22:41

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