how to buy your per­fect board

Carve - - BOARD GUIDE -

The Bri­tish board mar­ket is one of the most com­pet­i­tive in the world with the prod­uct of skilled home­grown shapers sit­ting along­side the best of­fer­ings from the world’s top shapers. How­ever with fast paced de­sign in­no­va­tions and a huge amount of dif­fer­ing com­bi­na­tions of rocker, bot­tom con­tours, vol­ume dis­tri­bu­tion, rail shapes and lengths come dif­fi­cult choices. Just which com­bi­na­tion suits your style?

The key lays in knowl­edge. Here are few point­ers to help you on your way:


On­line board re­views are great, if you know the per­son writ­ing them (or record­ing them in the case of video) is a surfer and has ex­ten­sive hands-on knowl­edge. If you can't prove this then they are mar­ket­ing spiel and next to use­less. The best board re­view on a board is one that you can trust. Find some­one you know who has one and ask them, ask a rep­utable surf shop as­sis­tant or a shaper.


Vol­ume mea­sure­ments are a guide. A great guide but not the only means to es­tab­lish what size board you should ride. You may ‘like 26 litre boards.’ but do you like the foam, rocker and vol­ume dis­tri­bu­tion, the rails and bot­tom con­tours all of which de­ter­mine the boards abil­ity to pad­dle out and into waves, ride on the face, plane and turn? EPS blanks with epoxy will also feel way dif­fer­ent than PU boards with polyester resin of the same vol­ume. The same ap­plies to a board that has a flat rocker and a con­cave com­pared to say a rolled vee bot­tom board with loads of rocker. There are many other fac­tors that need to be con­sid­ered which are equally im­por­tant. Vol­ume is just one vari­able to con­sider when buy­ing a board.


Not long ago surfers only had two styles of boards; shortboards for ev­ery­thing from one to eight foot and guns for eight foot plus. That was it. Now there are boards for ev­ery con­di­tion from one foot on­shore up to waves like moun­tains. You need to know ex­actly what waves you want the board for. You can get boards that ex­cel in gut­less waves and ev­ery con­ceiv­able con­di­tion above that.

Talk through all the op­tions with your shaper or ex­pe­ri­enced surf shop sales­man. Tell them what boards you like and why you like them. Tell them what boards you don’t like, and why not. Tell them the waves you want it for and be hon­est about your abil­ity.

The big­gest gains (i.e. get­ting a magic board) come through hon­estly as­sess­ing these fac­tors, and then find­ing some­one who can ap­ply years of knowl­edge to get you on the right board. Not only does it take the risk out of the in­creas­ingly big in­vest­ment but it in­creases the chance of you scor­ing the best board of your life.

Buy­ing on­line

The choice of boards on­line now is in­fi­nite. With­out pro­fes­sional guid­ance chances are you will end up with board that doesn’t suit you. Al­ways, when­ever pos­si­ble, visit your store or shaper. Stick it un­der your arm and feel it! Feel the bal­ance, check out how the vol­ume is dis­trib­uted, and also the most im­por­tant part – how the rails are. Talk to the ex­perts.

If this is not pos­si­ble then pick up the phone and talk to the per­son in the store or factory. Ask them about the board you are think­ing about pur­chas­ing, ask about the rails, the vol­ume, how it com­pares to what you are cur­rently rid­ing, etc. Elim­i­nate as many chances of get­ting things wrong as pos­si­ble.

Don't be the sec­ond­hand sales per­son.

There are more “nearly new boards” on sec­ond­hand board sites than ever these days. The rea­sons? Cus­tomers bought boards that didn't suit them. Knowl­edge is power. Rep­utable surf shop own­ers and shapers have years of knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence of thou­sands of boards and their own­ers. Use it. It works. They like noth­ing bet­ter than a stoked surfer com­ing back into the shop and telling them that their new board flies!

See this as a long term re­la­tion­ship.

It’s more im­por­tant than ever that you build a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with your ex­pe­ri­enced surf shop owner/sales­man or shaper. They build up en­cy­clopae­dias of cus­tomer knowl­edge. They will be able to di­rect you to mod­els that will suit you and let you know which ones you prob­a­bly won’t like with the net re­sult of sav­ing you a for­tune. You and your surf­ing style are unique. Shapers and ex­pe­ri­enced board sales­men can help. It is that sim­ple.

Ju­lian Wil­son push­ing his JS to the lim­its

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