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Types of Surfboard

A brief guide to the variety and design of surfboards available

In the great sport of surfing, there are many types of wave to be ridden. Therefore, it only makes sense that there is a great variety of surfboards too. While there are a great deal of different boards out there, differing in shape and size, most boards fall into one of a few main categories. The most common are shortboards, longboards, funboards, gun, fish and hybrids.

Most modern boards are constructed from foam and covered in fibreglass, ensuring that they are both lightweight and strong. The length of a board is an important factor to consider when purchasing, as the longer a board is, the easier it is to paddle and stand up on. This makes longer surfboards ideal for beginners. This also applies to the width, with wider boards more suited to rookie surfers.


The majority of shortboards come in at less than seven feet in length. Beginners should avoid this type of board as they are difficult to master and are usually used for contest-style surfing. By sacrificing paddling ease, shortboards are faster and have the capacity for greater power and more infinite control. Needless to say, when it comes to shortboards, only advanced surfers need apply.


In direct contrast to the shortboard, longboards are far easier to paddle and are ideal for catching waves. This makes them the ideal board to learn how to ride and develop your surfing prowess. Usually measuring between eight and 12 feet, longboards are the oldest and most traditional type of board in existence. Most beginners develop their technique on longboards, learning wave selection, paddling techniques and the basics of turning.


Funboards are almost an amalgam of the shortboard and the longboard, combining the very best characteristics of the two. In fact, they are ideal for surfers who are looking to make the transition from using a longer board to a smaller one, as they maintain stability and paddling ability. Funboards come in a variety of nose and tail shapes.


When the waves are big, the gun is the type of board you want to be riding. Ranging from six to ten feet in length, the gun is designed for big drops and is adept at handling high speeds while allowing the rider to maintain control. Most gun boards have either three or four fins and feature pointed noses and a pin tail.


Although fish surfboards are generally the same length as shortboards, they differ in width and shape. Fish boards have a rounder nose of greater width and a wider mid-section. They also have a swallow tail. They perform best when riding either small or medium-sized waves. As they are quite flat, fish boards can maintain speed through relatively flat sections of wave.


As their name would suggest, hybrid boards take a variety of design elements from other models. They feature the performance levels of a shortboard mixed with the stability of a fish. Hybrids are ideal for heavier surfers who want to ride a shorter board.