Choosing the right surfboard (A must read for the beginner surfer)

Choosing the right surfboard
(A must read for the beginner surfer)

I started Phase One Surf on the foundation of helping surfers get the right equipment and boards to enjoy surfing and develop in the sport. In 1999 I started working for UCSD teaching surf lessons through the recreation program and I came face to face with the challenge beginner surfers faced everyday; finding the right board. I was working daily with students and locals that were attempting to learn to surf on 7′6″ big wave guns, performance shortboards, and waterlogged boards that belonged in the surf graveyard. Needless to say teaching students how to surf on these boards made my job very difficult, not to mention I was the one who had to inform them the board they bought was wrong for them…I realized that my students (surf class after surf class) were buying the wrong boards for a few reasons:

* A surf shop simply wanted to make a sale and sold them any board they could
* They simply went to buy the cheapest board available not realizing there was an ideal board for them
* They had no surf resource to assist them

I learned how to surf at an early age so although I was well versed in surfing the process of looking for a suitable beginner board was somewhat foreign to me. I like 99% of all surfers just assumed beginners should get the biggest and cheapest board they could afford and if money was not an issue just get a longboard. I quickly realized…

through my lessons and instruction that this is not always the best solution. Overall a beginner surfer needs to look at a few criteria to help them determine what board is best for them

* Size (Height and Weight)
* Level of athleticism
* Surfing Preference in the future (Shortboarding vs Longboarding)
* Surfing Experience

Most beginner surfers fall into the category of fairly good shape, a decent level of athleticism and coordination, and little to zero surf experience. Beginners in this category that are unsure if they want to longboard or shortboard should choose to purchase a Funboard. What is a Funboard you ask? The Funboard is a versatile wave magnet and an excellent board for a Beginner Surfer. The Funboard is often referred to as a mini malibu, malibu, mini mal. mini longboard, and Hybrid. The Funboard is great for the following reasons:

* It is a versatile board and works well in most surf conditions from knee high to overhead surf.
* Board is wide, thick (2.5 – 3 inches), and fairly flat. This results in more volume and surface area providing the surfer with more stability.
* The Funboard allows for a smooth transition to either longboarding or shortboarding.
* A Funboard is a great addition to any quiver. Even the best surfers enjoy taking out a funboard especially if the conditions are sub par.
* Funboards hold their resale value. If you decide you hate surfing you can easily sell your used Funboard in good condition for as much as $400.
* They’re tons of Fun!

There is no proven formula to select the perfect board for each beginner but generally speaking most beginner surfers should choose a Funboard in the 7′6″- 8′0″ range. Things to keep in mind when choosing are that the larger the board the easier it will paddle, more stability when standing, and potentially easier to overall surf. The reason you do not want to get too large of a board is that a large board is cumbersome to manage in the water and will overall add difficulty to your progression in surfing.Surfers over 5′7″ and 150 pounds should consider funboards 7′6″ and larger while surfers smaller than 5′7″ should stay on boards 7′6″ and smaller. In most cases you should not consider boards under 7 foot. Surfers over 6′2″ and 190 pounds can consider using funboard shapes from 8′0″ to 8′6″. Advanced Beginners or surfers who want to eagerly transition to shortboards can elect a smaller funboard or even a hybrid shape. Surfers that know they want to pursue Longboard surfing can invest in a longboard as their first board as there is no major advantage to start on a Funboard.Phase One Surf is here to help all beginner surfers find the right board for them. We realize there are many unique cases. If you would like to get some personal advice from our expert team please drop us an email at and we will help you directly. If you are in the Los Angeles area email us and we can make an appointment with you at our showroom to show you your board options in person.

At Phase One Surf we carry a wide range of Funboards from 7′0″ – 8′6″ and in a wide variety of color options from a classic pin stripe funboard to a pink hibiscus funboard.

Check out our full line of Funboards here:

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18 Responses to Choosing the right surfboard (A must read for the beginner surfer)

  1. Mike says:

    Hello- I just started with surf lessons and after four more weeks I’ll be looking for a longboard. I’m 6′ & 190lbs, I hear S.Walden makes a great board,The Magic Model, that’s beginner friendly. Do you have this board in a non-epoxy edition that’s around 9-6? So far in my training I’m responding best to a size 10-0 but I hope to go down and do well in the 9-6 range. I live in Orange County. -Thanks


  2. Jake says:

    Hi – I can get a good deal on new 6’8” x 21 x 2 1/8 funboard (egg shape) but according to most of surfboard size charts this board is rather not for me. I’m still a beginner – 6’2” , 187 pounds , athletic , surfing my second summer on rockaway beach, NY (pretty small waves) . I tried longboard and shortboard but definitely feel better on shorter boards. My question is how important these size charts are , and if that surfboard wouldn’t be a waste of time and cash. Thank you.


    • adrian says:

      Jake -
      Absolutely. We can always get you a great deal on a new board.
      To answer your question on surfboard size charts….they are typically accurate but only in a general sense. Experience, level of athleticism, waves you are surfing, etc. It sounds like you have a summer of surfing under your belt and experience on shortboards and longboards. This is great info…I am very curious to how your experience went on the shortboard and how well things have gone on the longboard.
      With that said a 6’8″ can work for a surfer your size with some experience. Its on the aggressive side of an option but since shortboarding is more up your alley the closer you can get to it the better you will be when you transition over. It will also be much easier to transition from a 6’8″ egg to a 6’4″ – 6’6″ shortboard compared to a 9’0″ Longboard.
      On the subject if the board is a waste of cash…at Phase One Surf we firmly try to help our clients only buy boards that will be of value to them in the longterm. The nice thing about a 6’8″ Funboard is that it will be fun after you transition to your shortboard. You will be able to use it on small days or days where the waves are slow and rolling.
      We have a couple epoxy 6’8″ on sale in the $300 range…We also have a 6’7″ Epoxy by BLUE for $290

      Contact us to review further

  3. Jaime says:

    My 10yo daughter and I have been taking lessons (after I’ve been away from surfing for 15+ years) and I am thinking bout getting her a Surf Betty 7’6 as her board. Me on the other hand, I’m unsure about. I think I’m more inclined to the long board scene, as I’m 38 and not in the greatest of shape anymore. I like the slower style of boarding, not big into carving it up. Would an NSP be good for me also? I’m 6’2 and 210, and my daughter is around 4’9 and 80lbs. Thanks….

    • adrian says:

      Thanks for writing in and congrats on getting back into surfing!
      I cant imagine a better time then to jump back in with your daughter and share the stoke!

      Your daughter has the most options…she is young, has an ability to adapt quickly, and has flexibility in option based on her size. I would like to know how she has done in surfing so far before locking in a size but at 4’9″ the 6’8″ and 7’2″ are good options. If she is considering riding shorter boards encourage her to check out the 6’8″ :) The Surf Betty’s are awesome as they have the great girly colors and designs.

      For yourself I do think a 9’6″+ board is the way to go. If you like longboards and feel more in tune with that style its absolutely the way to go. The NSPs are great for just jumping back in as they are forgiving but very functional shapes/designs, light, and aesthetically pleasing with nice colors and a gloss finish. If you are on a bit of a budget the same board is available in all white under the surf series label. Its the same shape just with no color and no gloss finish.

      Give us a call and we will hook you up on a discount on the boards and any other gear you may need (wax, bag, wetsuit, etc). I love rewarding our Bloggers!


      • Jaime says:

        Diggin it!! Made a wish list already with some stuff, and I looked at and liked a 10’2 board ya got. Didn’t see the betty’s for the girlie tho, so I will prolly have to give a call on that one…

        Thanks for the hook-up, I appreciate it, and I will spread the word! Already hit ya on FB. =)

  4. Lou says:

    Hi – I’m a 5’11”, 175 guy in good shape. I’m pretty athletic – good snowboarder, wakeboarder, college swimmer/water polo player – and looking into moving to surfing. Took a couple lessons with some soft-top foam boards (8′-10′ probably, in various places) and I’m comfortable getting up, doing some turns, riding in general. I’d like to buy a board I can use in the Northeast (MA, NH, Maine), and I’m looking for any suggestions. I’d rather go on the shorter side (eventually want to move down to a shortboard) – do you think the 6’8” Super Fish XL Epoxy is too aggressive? If it is, any recommendations for what I should be looking at? Thanks!

    • adrian says:

      Hey Lou,
      I love the Super Fishes by 7S They are great boards and would ultimately work. I would say a shorter board for your first board would be in the range of 6’8″ – 8’0″…with 8’0″ being the safest and 6’8″ being the most aggressive. The fishes will work because they are wide, thick, paddle well, and offer the surface area to get you stability. It might be better to get a 7’6″ or so board first. Either a traditional funboard or a funboard with a more aggressive design like this 7’6″ BatonR Funboard.
      As you progress this will allow you to jump into your next board whcih could be a shortboard and or a fish more aligned to your higher skill level. Ultimately both boards are a great fit in your quiver and will always have a place for your surfing. I think its better to start with the Funboard to fine tune your skills but the 7S Fish will absolutely work and offer you some fun surfing once you get it dialed in.
      Give us a buzz if we can help further.
      We will get you a discount as we always support our BLOG contributors.
      Phase One Surf

  5. Lou says:

    Hey Adrian- thanks for the info! Appreciate it a ton. Gonna see if I can find that funboard around here and try it out. Regardless, will definitely be buying whatever I end up with from you guys!

  6. Di says:

    Hi! Im a beginner surfer. Had a couples of lessons already but still trying to stand steady. My boyfriend has been surfing for many years and he told me he thinks that a great board for me would be a 7′ 2″ or larger Surf Betty. Im 5’10 and 145 lbs. Do you think the Surf Betty Funboards are good for me? And which one? One larger than a 7’2″? I live in DR and we don’t have many surf shop around here so I would really appreciate all your help with this. Thanks!!

    • adrian says:

      Hey Di
      A 7’2″ can work but a 7’6″ or 8’0″ may just be safer and more fun for you :) It would be good to know what boards you have been trying on so far…if you are having limited success on a 7’2″, 7’6″, 8’0″ today its a good bet you will be able have future success on the 7’2″ with more time.

      The 7’2″ would definitely be more on the aggressive side with the 7’6″ and 8’0″ would be a bit easier. We have a 7’6″ Funboard on sale for $275 that might be of interest for you as well.

      Send us an email at and we can help further :)

  7. Patrick says:

    I’m 5’11” 220 lbs. I want to get a funboard what size do you recommend? im pretty athletic i play division 1 baseball. please tell me your thoughts.

  8. Mike Kulzer says:

    Hi Adrian,

    Can you tell me which board the 8′ Superfish or the 8′ Wave Magnet paddle better?
    This would be my shortest shortboard for larger surf. I’m 6’3″ 235 and have been surfing for 20+ years.

    Thank you!

  9. Christine says:

    My 15 yo son has been out with friends a few times surfing and loved it so much that he is interested in buying a used board. He is generally an athletic person and excels in swimming, and it might be notable to mention that he excellent on rollerblades (excellent balance). He is 5′ 11″ and 135 lbs, but growing like a weed. The few times he has surfed he was on a longboard- I think around 9′ maybe. He is interested in a fun board because he likes the idea of more manueverability. He has been given a lot of different advice about what he should be looking for. What do you suggest?
    Thanks for your help!

  10. Bella says:

    Hey there,
    I’ve been doing some heavy research about the size board I need. I’m 5’9 about 310 lbs i’ve always been interested in surfing, but because I was a big girl I was always self conscious about trying. my partner who has surfed before says its no big deal and there are bigger surfers out there. She hasn’t surfed in awhile, she’s more active than me right now (I have back issues) and I would like to get in to surfing with her. We don’t have that much money so we would like to share a board if at all possible. I need a beginners board for sure and cheap. She us 5’4″ and 250 I’m looking at longboards but they are crazy expensive. I don’t know if you could recommend a length that may work for both of us or if not, separate types of boards. Also, what are the tours of things to look out for when buying a used board?
    Thanks so much,

  11. Hey. I’m a beginner but I’d like to focus on shortboard. I was thinking of getting a fish… I’m 5’6, about 150lbs, medium built. What do you think would be the best board for me?