Most of this may seem obvious to some people but I urge you to read on anyways, there may be a few hints or tips that you never thought of… and lets face it, surfboards are worth more than just money to us, so it is a good idea to take proper care of your board to ensure a long happy surfing life.
Surfboards are pretty fragile items given the nature of abuse they get put through on a daily basis. A simple foam core, maybe supported by a stringer of some type, and wrapped in a paper thin skin of fiberglass and resin. If you are anything like us, when you get a good board you want it to last as long as possible.
Even a bad board has it’s days, so it is a good idea to treat them right too. If you like to switch out your quiver often by buying and selling used boards, taking care of those sticks will definitely help with the resale value. The added bonus in that is the more you can sell that used board for, the more money you have to put towards that new custom surfboard.
Fortunately, there are some really easy things you can do to prolong the life and look of your boards. We spend hard earned dollars on our quivers, these easy steps can help ensure you get the most out of your purchase. So how do you take care of your surfboard?
Tip 1: Bag It
This is probably the most important thing you can do for your surfboard or boards. The Surfboard Bag is more than just a handy tool to carry your board around with when traveling. Go ask any ding repair shop and I bet they will tell you that the majority of boards getting repaired are from non-surfing related incidents.
A bag is literally a safeguard against everything when your board is out of the water.
Although surfboards can handle a lot of stress and punishment when being put through the ringer while your surfing, they are highly fragile out of the water. It doesn’t take much to crack or ding that board, and can happen in the most unlikely ways.
A decent surfboard bag is a protective layer from dings, knocks, scratches, sunlight, etc. Keep you board in the bag at all times and you can easily toss it in the back of your truck or car with little worry (just tie it down if in your truck). You can keep it in your house or garage knowing that if something falls on it or it falls over, it’ll be safe. And it keeps it out of the sun when on the roof of your car, or when your just chilling at the beach post surf or waiting for the tide to change. Plus, you can toss wetsuits, board shorts, fins, etc inside, making the bag do all the work for you.
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone new to surfing, or just someone clueless, lean their board on the car standing upright. It doesn’t take much to cause that board to tip over and bounce of the concrete. A slight whisper of wind, a heavy truck driving by rattling the ground, or someone tripping over the leash, pulling the board down... these are all things likely to put a nice ding in your board.
When you are at your car changing out of your wetsuit, either bag it right away and/or put it in you car before you change, or at the very least lay it on the ground, somewhere out of the way where no one can step on it or drive over it. Don’t be that poser who needs to prop their board on their car so everyone can see that he/she just had a surf and they must rip, by keeping your board in plain view. If you are wet and changing, people will get the idea.
Same thing applies in your house or garage. Try not to just lean a board against a single wall, it is bound to tip to one side caused by an endless array of reasons sooner or later. At least find a corner to lean it into, or better yet get some wall mounted surf racks so you can store your boards off the ground and prevent things from falling on or people tripping over them. This will also help keep you from stacking boards on one another and giving the bottoms a good wax job.
And speaking about surf racks, get a good set for your car or even your bike.
Sure you can bike with one hand holding the board with the other, but surf racks on your bike will keep your board parallel to the bike and will help prevent it from swinging out and hitting a light pole, tree or people, etc. A good set on your car will allow you to stack multiple boards (board bags or towels also come in handy here). They also allow you to keep the boards out of your car and wax off the upholstery, as well as cramming in all your buddies on a road trip.
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The key tip for the “keep in safe” section however, is using a board bag. It will come in handy in all areas, including being able to keep the boards on the roof of your car so they don’t get damaged by the sun’s strong UV rays that can yellow your board in no time. And when you pop into your favorite watering hole, you can throw the boards in the car and they won’t over-heat and risk de-lamination.
And if you need any more reasons, it's also a nice easy way to keep it out of site from wandering eyes who might be tempted to borrow your board permanently.
Clay Marzo inspecting his Mad Cat model by SUPERBrand with a few more boards stacked in racks in the background.
Tip 3: General care and maintenance
The general care and maintenance of your board is crucial too. Try to give it a little rinse when you get out of the water. You are more than likely going to give yourself a rinse at the beach shower if they are available, so just run your board under quickly too.
Salt water is very corrosive and even though fiberglass is pretty resilient to it, it will do damage over time. Even boaters rinse off the decks and hulls of their boats after a sail. If a boat stays in the water, a special bottom paint is used. Surfboards don’t want or need something like this, just a quick rinse.
Fix your dings ASAP.
Dings will let in the highly corrosive salt water and will eventually eat away at the foam inside if they are not attended too eventually. EPS/Epoxy boards are especially bad since they basically suck up water. The foam is not as dense as polyurethane (PU), so you should immediately get out of the water if it happens while surfing. PU is a little more resilient, so it is not as urgent, but you should still get out if you get a ding.
In both cases, rinse your board with fresh water, even over the dinged area and then let it dry out thoroughly before you patch it up. You don’t want to trap that corrosive salt water in there.
Most surf shops carry ding repair kits, and there are a lot of resources where you can get the materials you need to repair any surfboard and the knowledge needed to do so too. But, make sure you know if your board is a standard PU or if it is EPS/Epoxy. When in doubt get yourself an epoxy repair kit as the resin is compatible with all types of foam. Polyester resin (common on the majority of PU foam surfboards) will melt the EPS foam found in most Epoxy resin boards.
And here is a little hint you probably are not aware of... If you have a board with epoxy resin that is starting to yellow, you can grab one of those rough sided, scotch-brite pads and give the board a light once over. This will take a very small amount of the “yellowed” surface resin away and your board will brighten up drastically. You don’t have to worry, it would take hundreds of times doing this to get through all the resin and into the weave of the cloth, and you would only need to do it once in a blue moon. It won’t affect the performance in any way good or bad, it’ll just make the board look a little newer.
And as for the last couple of points... don’t ride your board all the way into the beach, fins to the sand. Why compromise your fin boxes and risk loosing a fin in the process?
Be aware of the shore break closeout section you want to hit to impress the girls getting rays on the beach. Chances are they are more concerned about their tan and are not watching you anyways.
And finally, wear a leash. The last thing you want do it loose your board and have it roll up onto the rocks repeatedly until you can get to it. Or even worse into some innocent kid's head where not only will you damage your board, you can do some serious damage to that poor kid as well.
A Hammo model getting pushed to the limits. The force going through the core of the board shows how resilient the design and construction is.
Sum it Up
A lot of this info may be common knowledge to you already, but it is still good to use as a reminder and definitely a good read for someone new to surfing who just may not have thought about it before.
We are not trying tell you that you have to follow these procedures - there's always going to be times where situations don't allow it. These are just good rules of thumb to follow for anyone and every board to help prolong it’s life.
Surfboards should not be as disposable as they are these days. The more broken, discarded and thrown away boards added to our landfills will take hundreds of years to break down, adding to how toxic our sport already is.
Take care of your boards, fix your dings, and keep them as long as possible. We owe it to mother nature who is nice enough to allow us to play in her ocean. Now let me go finish building out the surf rack in my garage.
Do you have any tips for surfboard care? Join the conversation and share your thoughts in the comments below.
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