Surfboards are to surfers what cameras are to photographers: expensive.
We spend all our money on the latest and greatest in a frenzied dragon-chase to find that ‘perfect’ board. This, of course, doesn’t exist, because each type of board is good at certain types of things—there’s no one-size-fits-all going on here. Back to the photography analogy: a 35mm camera is great for happy snaps and a large format camera is great for portraits, but any good photographer will have different types of cameras like any good surfer should have different types of surfboards. Check out our breakdown for the four must-haves for your next surf adventure.
Tri-Fin. AKA ‘The Standard Shorty’
The most performance-y of the batch. This is the board you want to go out and do all your ‘shredding’ on. You generally don’t want to surf this board unless it’s at least 2-3ft and looking like it’s got some push (your shortboard is great at harnessing speed, not producing it). You’ll want something around as tall as you are, with a nice medium/low rail line and a sharp appearance. Think aerodynamics. Shortboards are there to be sleek and sharp for when you’re feeling enthused. The A2 from Chilli Surfboards fits all of the above.
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Twin-Fin. AKA ‘Twinny’
The most versatile of the batch. As fun in 1ft as it is in 4ft. These things are so good and easy to surf, that it can actually lead to the detrimental condition ‘Fishitis,’ the cause of which stems from the overuse of fish/twin-fin surfboards. Symptoms include an inability to ride anything other than a 5’2”. Everything in moderation, as they say, but damn that ease-of-speed and smoothness are nice. You want something short and fat here, dropping at least 6” or so off your standard shorty, and don’t be afraid to pile on the foam too. Extra points for glass-in keels. The Twinsman from Album Surfboards will do the trick just fine, validated by twin-fin-connoisseur Asher Pacey.
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Single-Fin AKA ‘Single-Fin’
Take off that neoprene and grab those 12” boardshorts. I don’t care if it’s winter, these things are pieces of history and it’s time to pay your respects. No reverses or fin throws here either. Look to the greats for guidance: Gerry Lopez, Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew, Shaun Tomson, etc. If you’re second-hand searching, you’ll want something that’s still old enough to guarantee ‘homage’ status, but also want to ensure that the thing is still watertight and won’t be an anchor after two surfs. Alternatively, if you really fall in love with the single lyfe, slap that card down on something that looks as good as it goes. The Bluebird by McTavish awaits.
Sans-Fin. AKA ‘Finless’
Gritting your teeth and trying to rip the shit out of a wave with three fins can get a bit monotonous after a while, so lay down that 6’0” piece of fibreglass, pick up a softboard and pour some resin in the fin plugs because you won’t be needing those anymore. There’s a certain joy that comes with diving into absurdity, and this joy can be experienced best while sliding coffin-style on your back down the face of a 3ft wave on a 10” piece of foam made by Drag Board Co.