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Different Types Of Surfboards

   August 10th, 2020   Posted In: Articles   Tags:

Different Types of Surfboards

Anyone who is new to the surfing scene will most likely have a difficult time understanding the surf lingo. And while the first step most people will take with learning to surf is getting a surfboard, this can be more complicated and confusing than anticipated. There are so many different types of surfboards – and your ability and surf style will determine what type of board you want to get. This article explores the different types of surfboards and some general information to help you make a decision on what board you want.

Surfboard Basics

There are a few basics you should know before making a decision on a surfboard, such as the different parts of the surfboard that influence their performance.

There are five basic parts of a surfboard. The nose, the tail, the rocker, the fins, and the rails.

  • Nose: The front part of the board. It can be pointed or rounded and is used to pierce through the water and gain speed.
  • Tail: The back part of the board. The tail is the area where the fins are attached and determine the performance of the board. There are different tail shapes such as a ‘pintail’, ’round tail’, ‘swallow tail’, and ‘fishtail’.
  • Rocker: The rocker is the curve of the bottom of the board between the front of the nose and the middle of the board. A surfboard will be slower with a more curved rocker, but it is easier to maneuver. In contrast, a surfboard with a flat rocker will be faster but harder to maneuver.
  • Fins: The fins are the curved parts of the board that sticks off of the bottom and into the water. Fins help the surfer direct the board the direction they want. Boards can have two, three, and even four fins and many boards come with detachable fins so the surfer can experiment with what style works best.
  • Rail: The rails of the board are the sides of the board. They can be curved or sharp. Curved rails help you stay on the wave, while sharp rails help you cut through the wave for speed. This is also the area of the board that you grip to perform tricks.

types of surfboards

Surfboard Design

A surfboard is primarily designed in terms of length, width, and depth. These factors can also determine the performance and difficulty level of a surfboard.

  • Length: The length of a surfboard determines how difficult it is to paddle and the maneuverability. The longer a board is the easier it is to paddle but the harder it is to maneuver. Shorter boards are harder to paddle, but easier to maneuver – making them the preferred length for surfers who want to perform aerial stunts.
  • Width: The width of a surfboard affects how buoyant and stable a board will be. A wider board is more buoyant and feels more stable under your feet. A thinner board is less stable and less buoyant.
  • Depth: How thick a surfboard also determines its buoyancy. A thicker surfboard is more buoyant – meaning the heavier the surfer the thicker the board should be.

Different Types of Surfboards

Now that you know some basic surfboard anatomy and how these different factors affect a surfboard, let’s talk about the different types of surfboards. There are about seven basic types of surfboards that are the most popular.


A foam board, also known as a soft board or a foamie, is a surfboard specifically designed for beginners. They are lightweight and made of foam – making them as buoyant as possible. Foamboards tend to be longer (7-9 feet in length) and while they are not the easiest to maneuver, they offer a stable ride so that beginners can learn to stand up on a board.


A longboard is a board 8 feet or longer and they typically have a rounded nose. These boards are perfect for beginners to learn on because they are stable, easy to paddle, and great for small ankle-length waves. They tend to be relatively thick and thus are pretty buoyant. They are more difficult to maneuver so they are not ideal for aerial stunts or fast surfing.


Shortboards are between 5.5 feet to 6.4 feet and feature a rounded tail and a pointed nose. Shortboards are not ideal for beginners due to being less stable and harder to paddle, but they are the most popular boards for competitive surfers. What they lack in stability, shortboards make up for in speed, power, and maneuverability. The pointed nose allows for surfers to dive through waves much easier compared to a longboard. If you are interested in learning more, check out this article on how to ride a shortboard.

Funboard (Malibu)

A funboard, also known as a Malibu, is in between a shortboard and a longboard. It is typically between 7 and 8 feet long and has a wide nose. These boards are a good “next step” for those beginner surfers who have mastered a longer board. They are ideal for a wide range of conditions.

Fish Surfboard

A fish surfboard is a shortboard that tends to be around 6 feet in length. They have wide, pointed noses and typically sport a “fish” tail – meaning the board’s tail is split into two sections. A Fish is built with a flat rocker making them fast and ideal for small-to-medium waves.


A gunboard is a shortboard between 6 feet and 10 feet in length that has a pointed nose and a pointed tail. These surfboards are built for competitive surfing and extreme surfing conditions. Therefore, these boards are built for speed and maneuverability.

Stand-up Paddleboards

A stand-up paddleboard is similar to a longboard, but it is built to be used in very small wave conditions. These boards are 9 feet to 12 feet in length and have a round nose and tail. The board is meant to be paddled with an oar as the surfer stands on the board. These boards are wide making them buoyant and stable. They are often used in flat water areas such as lakes, rivers, and canals.

Review of the Surfboard Types

There are so many different types of wave conditions and surfing types that there are a wide range of surfboard types. Surfers who are relatively new typically begin on a foamboard or a longboard since they are easy to paddle and stable while learning the basics. As a surfer becomes more familiar with the feeling of surfing they can proceed to a shortboard, this includes a fish surfboard or a funboard, which allows for maneuverability when trying out new things. Finally, a gunboard is used for extreme surfing, and a stand-up paddleboard is used for leisurely surf.

Hannah lives in Virginia Beach with her two cats and her fiance. She loves to read, write, and binge watches YouTube videos. Her favorite hobbies are tending to her overgrown houseplants and traveling. To contact Hannah please email hannahb2713@gmail.com.

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