Choosing a surfboard means finding a board that is designed to hold up your body weight. From a very general standpoint, a bigger surfboard is almost always better. So, you should have a good idea of what surfboard sizes are before taking one out to ride the waves.
The most common surfboard sizes range from 65 to 76 inches long and 16 to 19 inches in width. If you’re looking for a surfboard for beginners, you should try finding one that’s 12 to 24 inches taller than you.
However, the length and width only describe a tiny portion of a surfboard’s overall size. In this guide, I’ll explain the full measurements of a surfboard, how to size a surfboard based on body weight, and the differences between surfboard types.
Dimensions of Surfboards
Surfboards come in a wide range of sizes, from the ultra-small that measure around 5 feet long to the super-long that stands 10 feet tall. The average length and width ranges of a surfboard are 65 to 76 inches and 16 to 19 inches, respectively.
When measuring the dimensions of surfboards, there are 4 measurements to look for: length, width, thickness, and rocker. I’ll explain what each of these is down below.
This refers to the distance from the nose of the surfboard to the other end. It plays an important role in determining how suitable the surfboard is for different wave types and sizes. You can typically find surfboards ranging from around 6 feet to 9 feet.
If you compare this with a kayak, a typical surfboard length is about several inches shorter than the standard kayak length though Kayak comes in a lot more varieties, with some options having up to 26 inches in length.
The width is taken by measuring the distance from one rail—the curved side of a surfboard—to the opposite rail at the surfboard’s widest point. It should be wide enough to allow the rider to rest their feet comfortably on the board while also offering stability when riding waves. Narrower boards are usually reserved for more experienced surfers.
To measure thickness, you will have to record the distance from the top to the bottom of the board at its thickest point. The thickness of the surfboard has a direct effect on its buoyancy and maneuverability. It’s also easier to paddle on thicker boards than on thinner surfboards.
The rocker refers to how much of a curve there is to a surfboard. If you look at a surfboard from its side, you’ll notice how it’s slightly shaped like a banana.
While the rocker of a surfboard isn’t exactly a measurement, it’s an important variable in determining how novice-friendly it is. Flatter boards offer more stability due to their increased surface area and contact with the water as opposed to surfboards with a more pronounced curve.
There are other specifications that you should know about a surfboard, which are as follows:
Nose and Tail Rockers
Some surfboards may come with a flat bottom but has a curved front and/or back. Those curves are known as nose and tail rockers. The nose rocker will determine how easily the surfboard can split through waves, whereas the tail rocker affects maneuverability and how much air you can get when kicking the backend of the board.
If you were to split a surfboard down the middle lengthwise, you might discover that it has a slightly tapered design. The front and back ends of the surfboard may be narrow than the middle portion. The change in thickness is referred to as foil, and it plays a role in propelling the rider and building momentum, as well as supporting the weight of the rider while making tight turns.
The foil profile of a surfboard usually will not show up in a surfboard size chart. You might have to request exact foil figures when speaking to a retailer.
How to Choose the Correct Surfboard Size
Knowing the 4 measurements of a surfboard, it’s now time to determine how to choose the right size.
Unfortunately, surfboard sizes aren’t classified as Small, Medium, or Large. Instead, you have to find a surfboard size that works best for your weight range.
The following table will describe what surfboard sizes are ideal for different weight ranges.
|Weight Range||Surfboard Length||Surfboard Width||Surfboard Thickness|
|100 to 140 lbs.||74 to 76 in.||18 to 19 in.||2-1/4 to 2-3/8 in.|
|140 to 160 lbs.||76 to 80 in.||19 to 20 in.||2-3/8 to 2-1/2 in.|
|160 to 180 lbs.||78 to 82 in.||19-1/2 to 20-1/2 in.||2-1/2 to 2-5/8 in.|
|180 to 200 lbs.||82 to 86 in.||20 to 21-1/2 in.||2-3/4 to 3 in.|
|200+ lbs.||86+ in.||21-1/2 to 22-1/2 in.||3 to 3-1/4 in.|
When shopping for surfboards, the seller might ask you what type of board you’re looking for. Here’s a quick breakdown of the various types of surfboards and how they differ from standard surfboards.
Shortboards are generally surfboards that measure 5 to 7 feet long. It’s the most common surfboard type out there as it offers the best turning capabilities and the potential to perform jaw-droppingly awesome stunts. However, shortboards are not exactly beginner-friendly since their lengths don’t offer much in terms of stability.
The difference between classic shortboards and fish shortboards is that the latter is wider and has a notched tail. Its width offers better support for beginners are they try to nail the fundamentals of surfing, but it’s generally used for slower waves.
Technically speaking, a longboard is a surfboard that is at least 9 feet long. Due to their size, greenhorn surfers will have an easier time staying upright. Not only that, but longboards catch waves more easily, allowing you to ride them for much longer than shortboards. This is a definite must-have for anyone regardless of surfing expertise.
Funboards are somewhat of a combination between shortboards and longboards. They typically measure between 5 feet 9 inches and 9 feet long, but their widths and thicknesses vary significantly.
These boards can make sharp turns more easily than longboards and help maintain the rider’s stability better than shortboards. Essentially, funboards were designed as a transitional surfboard for novices who aren’t yet ready for shortboards.