Choosing your first shortboard? … it’s like buying a bra

I know I’m not the only woman who hates to have her tits ricocheting around in a saggy, old, scratchy bra.  If you know you’re a 34B, you’re not going to wear a 32F.  So why do we women often use ill-fitting surfboards?  Marks and Spencers (the world authority on all thing bra related) estimates that up to 60 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra.  It’s my estimation that a similar percentage of women in the surfing line-up are also using the wrong size surfboard.  Here are some tips for buying your first shortboard…

1) Ladies, we all know that size matters.  Volume is your friend.  If you’re only catching two or three waves per session then the likelihood is that you’re riding a board that is too small for you.  Don’t just accept your boyfriend’s reject surfboards.  The reality is that women generally have less upper body strength than men, so we need more volume in our boards to get into waves.   Board manufacturers often now include volume in litres as a size measurement and this is really helpful in making comparisons.

2) Girth matters too.  Women need to think about where the volume is located in the board.  I used to have a Hayden Shapes Hypto Krypto (before it died in a tragic accident).  I love that board because most of the volume is in the nose.  The widest part of it is ahead of the middle.  This meant it was really easy for me to catch lots of waves.  Also it has a flat rocker which again is great for paddling speed.  The Hypto Krypto has a tight round pintail which is designed for better turns, but the added benefit for women is that we tend to have smaller feet so a smaller tail feels extra nice and responsive.
surfboards are my heroin, I always want more
If you’ve been riding longboards and mini mals then a fish board can be a good transition on your way to a shortboard.  Some other shortboards I recommend to women are these….
Channel Islands ‘Average Joe’
Channel Islands ‘Wierdo Ripper’
Channel Islands ‘Dumpster Diver’
Rusty ‘Dwart’
Superbrand ‘Fling’
Lost ‘Rocket’
JS ‘Blak Box’

Here’s a little video that former pro surfer Holly Beck put on youtube of her surfing her Rusty Dwart…


3)”But I won’t be able to duckdive it!”  Oh, if I had a ham sandwich for everytime I heard that.  Yes, the Channel Island Average Joe is going to be much harder to duckdive than the Flyer … but guess what, the trade off is that you’re going to catch a lot more waves on the Average Joe.  That’s a trade off I’d be willing to accept.  When duckdiving just remember those sage words from Salt n’ Pepper “ahh, push it … push it real good”

4) Type of wave.  A lot will depend of course on where you surf.  One New Year’s Eve I went to a hot sweaty dance party wearing a backless dress and adhesive bra cups.  Half way through the night (after performing my signature dance moves: low-level kicks and the ‘almost’ splits) I realised that one of the cups had become dislodged and lost.  I spent the rest of the night feeling lop-sided and self-conscious.  I had made a bad bra choice.  Similarly if you’re surfing 2 foot mushy waves on the south coast of the UK then the Channel Islands ‘Semi-pro’ is probably not going to keep the smile on your face.

5) Try before you buy.  Try out rental boards before you buy a board.  Badger your friends to have a go on their boards.  Become a surfboard whore and ride as many as you can

6) Price.  I once spent 20 minutes in a department store dressing room agonising over whether I could justify spending 40 pounds on a Calvin Klein bra.  You get what you pay for, and several years later I still love that bra with its sturdy straps and comfortable memory foam cups.  It’s the same with boards, it’s worth spending more to get something that you’re going to have a good time on.  Many women will spend 500 pounds on a Coach handbag when for the same amount of money we could buy a brand new surfboard.  Admittedly, you can’t carry your packed lunch to work in a surfboard, but it will give you magical experiences and a confidence boost that goes far beyond zips and leather linings.

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