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What board should I surf?

by Boardcave on July 29, 2015





So you’ve built your quiver up to an impressive array of boards. Now, you just have to know when you can pull each one out and maximize it’s potential to expand your surfing horizon. First, let’s take a quick look at that quiver you’ve built.

Now many of these can be surfed in a large variety of conditions, it is really up to you, your style or what “feel” you like when surfing. However, we will break down each board to what conditions they work best in, and show you how your well-rounded quiver is more diverse than you think.

boards ready to go in the back of a van
Get as many boards as you can and try them in different waves.

Option 1. Longboards and Logs

The Classic, or other similar traditional style longboards, are going to be great in a softer, rolling wave. “Logs” as they are sometimes referred to, have a lower rocker and a nice long rail line that allows you to get into the softer, rolling waves very early. The momentum from the length and size of these boards carries you nicely through flat sections. It doesn’t always have to be 2 foot and glassy in order for you to pull that log out though… these boards, under experienced feet, can handle waves up-to head high or slightly bigger. Even waves with a little more vertical face to them can be a blast on a board like this.

1-da shapes classic logs
noosa longboards tea tree
dms buddha
From top to bottom: the 1-DA Shapes Classic, Noosa Longboards Tea Tree and the DMS Buddha.

Option 2. Retro Fish Boards

The Charger, a super fun little twin keel fish shape board is perfect for those summer days when fun is in the air. Surprisingly nimble little machines, these boards paddle extremely well for their size and are super fast. Perfect for those small to medium size days either mushy or steep, but don’t count them out when it is head high+ and barreling. A fish is a board that everyone should have in the quiver. It’ll open up new lines in your surfing which translate well to when you hop back on your shorty.

dms charger vs evil twin by vampirate
Some nice artwork on the DMS Charger and the Vampirate Evil Twin.

Option 3. Hybrids and Modern Quad Fishes

The SUPERquadrofinia, a board like this is going to be similar to your twin keel fish but with more performance built into it. Usually with a quad style fish like this, your rails will be a little thinner and bottom contours a little more high performance. The quad fin set-up gives you that speed and drive you love, but with a little more control and maneuverability. Anything from knee high to over head is fair game with a board like this. You have to be careful though, your other boards may get jealous if you spend too much time with one of these.


SUPERbrand’s Shaper Collective members Jason Koons and Adam “Sparrow” Fletcher share their insight on the Quadrofinia model.

Option 4. Modern Fish and Simmons Inspired

The Doinker, is a board that fits somewhere between a fish and a mini simmons style of board. You can find boards of this style with either a twin keel or quad fin setup. The wider, blunt nose and wide tail gives this style of board plenty of surface area adding to it’s ability to paddle in early and carrying speed through flat sections. Since it has very low rocker and a blunt nose, they are not the best in hollow waves, but on a nice wall with a good slope to it these boards are insane. Again, two foot to overhead on a wave like that and this board will be flying down the line, clearing sections that would normally outrun you, and carve hard and fast. The quad setup gives you a little extra control when you want to push your turns a little harder.

panda doinkermisfit shapes sinister kid
On the left a Panda Doinker with a round shape and quad setup. On the right, a Misfit Shapes Sinister Kid with a little more forward volume and a 5-fin setup.

Option 5. Single Fin/Retro Performance

The Emery Single Fin, is another board that fits well into the medium sized days. Boards like this have that nice round nose and round tail, giving you the ability to paddle into waves like a longboard, but a little more maneuverability. Setup as a single fin, or commonly a 2+1, these boards demand more glide and flow to your surfing approach. More of surfing with the wave instead of tearing the wave up. But again, you can’t count this board out on smaller or larger days. Depending on the size of the board, it can fit into the mid-length style of board, or shorter stubby style of board. Both can be used when it is one foot or up to overhead under the right surfer. Super fun, more traditional feel to surfing where you become more one with the wave.

emery single fin
new wavr box quad model
From top to bottom: the Emery Single Fin with a nice retro throwback outline and single fin setup, above the Misfits Nu Wavr with a modern twist and an interesting Box + Quad setup.

Option 6. Performance Hybrids

The DHD Black Diamond, or other similar hybrid style of boards are for those smaller days when you still want to rip around on a shortboard. This style of board usually incorporates elements from both a fish and a shortboard, giving you a wider nose and tail block area, and more volume through the center but with higher performance bottom contours and rails. This allows you to get into those smaller waves earlier, but still shred like you would on your standard shorty. Built with knee high to head high waves in mind, these boards are very versatile in the size and condition of the waves. But once again, try taking one out when it is a little bigger, you will be surprised at how well they handle size once you get use to the low rocker and wider nose when coming out of turns. Also check out the Warner Fly Fish and the Eye Symmetry Cali Quad.

tom carroll on his 54 cali quad
Tom Carroll showing how he does it on his 5’4″ Cali Quad model from Eye Symmetry.

Option 7. Performance Shortboards

The Flash by John Pyzel, is moving into the real of your standard shortboard. A nice refined outline, pulled in squash tail, high performance bottom contours and usually a medium low rail. Boards like this are the standard for a reason, they really do work in almost everything except really small or really big. Most boards of this style you can surf anywhere form knee high to a couple of feet over head and clean or junky conditions. Another board that is a must in everyone’s quiver as they are reliable and can be taken anywhere in the world with you. Check out Matt Penn’s R Nine, the Gunther Rohn G2 Pro and the Hammo Speed R2.

john john with his tahiti quiver
John John Florence (185cm, 77kg) with his Pyzel 2014 Tahiti quiver from left. 6’6″ Next step, 6’2″ Next Step, 6’1″ Bastard, 6’1″ Bastard, 6’1″ Flash, 5’11” Amigo, 5’11” Ghost

Option 8. All-Round Shortboards

DHD Skeleton Key, is going to be similar to your standard shortboard, and a great option if you are going to travel or surf new spots. All the same attributes as a standard shortboard with a squash tail, but in a rounded or rounded-pin. This feature alone widens the versatility of the waves the board can handle, but might hinder the high performance snappy turns that your squash gives you. If you can get past that, you’ll love this style of shortboard as it’ll work in just about everything. Handles bigger size better but still floats you through smaller or flatter sections. Gives your more of a carving feel than snappy, and loves the barrel. Also check out the JR Cousin It, the Lost V2 Shortboard and the Chilli Rare Bird.

Option 9. High Performance Step-Ups

The AXE, is a suitable name for it’s style of board, which is a step-up. Boards like this need to be in the quiver of surfers getting into advanced levels and higher and are used for those days where your standard shortboard won’t handle the size. Longer, slightly thicker, wide point in the center and generally more volume all around for paddling. Medium to full rails for stability, and single to double concave for speed and control. When your local turns on or you are going on a trip to Indo, make sure to leave room for your step up. Other models include the Lost Whiplash and the Stacey Surfboards Reaper.

haydenshapes future flex hanging
A bunch of Haydenshapes boards hanging in a row in FutureFlex construction.

Option 10. Step Up Barrel Boards

The Shred Sled King, is the step-up board for those who love that single fin feel. Boards like this though generally keep the wide point forward a bit for paddling, and keep a nice pulled in pin tail to hold you tight in the barrel. Not the most maneuverable boards, this is the kind of board you want to pull out when all you want to do it get barreled. They get you in early and hold a nice line in steep waves. Take a board like this out in hollow waves anywhere from head high+ and also check out the Premier by Matt Penn.

The Run-Down

There you have it, one of many dream quivers any of us can aim for. But please note, this is not a “set in stone” description of these boards or the waves they are suited for. Your surfing style, creativity, and ability all come into play on the type of boards you can surf in any given condition. I have seen longboards in the barrel just like I have seen shortboards in small sloppy waves. It is surfing after-all, there are no rules, try it all but stay within your limits.


Make sure you check out the Board Engine and play around with your preferred wave type and board type to find some more surfboard recommendations for your next trip. Or email [email protected] with your details for customized board recommendations.







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