Let’s talk shortboards: The shred sticks that took the world by storm and give surfers the best optimization in terms of performance.
There’s a reason that shortboards are the most widely used in the sport of surfing and considered the best surfboard. With their quick and aggressive riding characteristics, they help to take your progress to the next level.
Shortboards, more than any other, have been pushed harder and further, allowing surfers to catch some of the best waves the world has ever seen.
Unfortunately for beginners, they require a great foundation of skill and technique to master.
If you think you are ready to ride your own shortboard, stick around while we go through some of the best shortboard surfboard reviews on the market!
- 1 Our Favorite Picks
- 2 What Is a Shortboard Surfboard?
- 3 Top 3 Best Soft Top Foam Shortboard Surfboards
- 4 Top 2 Best Hard Fiberglass Shortboard Surfboards
- 5 Pro's & Con's of a Shortboard
- 6 Shortboard Surfboard Size Chart
- 7 Shortboard vs Fish
- 8 Shortboard vs Longboard
- 9 Shortboard Surfing Tips
- 10 FAQ
Our Favorite Picks
#1 Best Overall: Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer
#2 South Bay Board Co. Razzo
#3 Catch Surf Odysea Skipper Pro
What Is a Shortboard Surfboard?
While there are no hard and fast rules, here is what you’ll typically find in a shortboard surfboard template:
When it comes to shortboard surfboard dimensions, they typically run pretty narrowly comparatively to longboards.
Top 3 Best Soft Top Foam Shortboard Surfboards
Our #1 Pick - Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer
Endorsed by the legend himself, Ben Gravy, the Wave Bandit Performer is one of the most well-rounded shortboard surfboards on the market. If you're out there on the hunt for unique waves and pumping swells, it'll provide you all you'll need to shred with ease. One of the things we love so much about this board, beyond the groovy pineapple design, of course, is the fish-like shape with the swallowtail. It helps to provide both cut and stability while still feeling like a high-performance board.
In terms of durability, you have both double Maple wood stringers and an EPS core. They provide just the right amount of flex to allow you to pump, yet can handle the wildest of conditions. Don’t want to buy a separate pack of fins? You’re in luck. It’s not often that these types of boards come with high-performance fins. Luckily, Wave Bandit did it big and threw in a set of high-quality, 4.5” thruster fins for speed and cut. Pair that with the high-density slick bottom and you’ll be riding higher than you ever thought.
#2 South Bay Board Co. Razzo
If you’re in the market for high-performance riding mixed with easy cruising, check out the Razzo by South Bay Board Co. This performance-based board is designed for all types of riders, yet comes in a soft-top design to increase the rideability. One unique thing that we love about this board is the “fingerprint” texture, which allows you to surf completely wax-free.
With a bit of added volume compared to other shortboards on the market, this bad boy is easier to paddle and catch waves with. It comes with a squash tail to help you cut better while the nose tail rocker helps to keep you straight down the line. Unlike many shortboards, it helps to make small waves somewhat like surfing playgrounds. It's made with layers and layers of real bamboo for serious strength, all of which is protected with a hard resin for outer layer protection.
It comes complete with FCS fin boxes, FCS thruster fins, a fin key, and a 6’ leash, pretty much everything you need to get out in the water right away!
#3 Catch Surf Odysea Skipper Pro
For the less competitive-minded surfers out there, the Odysea Surf Skipper provides fun in the sun on those splashy, summer days. It’s probably the best shortboard surfboard for beginners if we had to pick one. The Skipper Pro model, repped by legends like Jamie O’Brien and Taj Burrow, is one of the coolest soft-top boards around. It comes with a unique crescent tail for a mix of balance and cut and an HDPE slick-bottom for speed down the line.
In terms of durability, you get a triple-stringer design and a combo core, giving you a rigid ride with just enough flex to draw out those sweet, stylish turn. It’s a board for both kids and kids at heart. The high-quality fin boxes add a bit more drive and give you the assurance that your fins will hold strong when conditions get a bit heavier. You can customize your fin options with both thruster and quad designs too.
Beyond that, you get the unmistakable, 80s-inspired Catch Surf design with the bright, tye-dye coloring that will give you that extra bit of magic in the water.
Top 2 Best Hard Fiberglass Shortboard Surfboards
Our #1 Pick - ECS Boards – Bulldog V-Flex Shortboard
The Bulldog V-Flex Shortboard is pretty much your everyday surfboard, as it is made to be ridden in almost any kind of surf. The high-performance allows you to take advantage of almost any wave in your path. It has a low, consistent rocker for a bit of added speed and easier paddling ability. It comes with a double concave as well, which sits pretty high and gives you the ability to make transitions with ease.
What we love so much about this board is the skate-like feel it provides. Unlike many shortboards out there, it’s far less aggressive, helping to bring fun back into the surfing realm instead of pure competition. The team over at V-Flex make their EPS line of boards with sustainable bamboo, great for strength and environmental responsibility. Combined with carbon fiber rails and a carbon vector net on the bottom, you get pure, unadulterated strength that is unmatched.
If you’re in the market for a high-performance shortboard with a fun feel, we can’t recommend anything better than this one.
#2 JK Surfboards Da Grom Surfboard Shortboard
Just like the name suggests, this shortboard is perfect for your little grom shredder who is more than comfortable riding heavier waves. Made with high-grade polyurethane and polyresin, it is a straight-up, glassed design that has been precision cut and hand-finished with care. The team at JK Surfboards clear-sanded this model as well, giving it a smooth and precise feel. It comes with a single to double concave bottom, helping to give your little grom the most in terms of performance.
At only 5’2”, it’s more than small enough for those with little arms to carry down to the water as well. With that said, you can purchase it in larger sizes if you want to ride along. It comes with three Futures fins in a thruster setup for ripping on reefs or beach breaks. Don’t let these high-performance specs fool you though. You can ride this baby in all kinds of surf. For the groms out there taking the waves by storm, Da Grom is a must have!
Pro's & Con's of a Shortboard
Shortboard Surfboard Size Chart
If you’re new to the shortboard game, you might be asking yourself,
“What size shortboard should I get?”
While there are no definitive rules when it comes to finding the best shortboard size, as it is totally up to your preference, there are some loose guidelines that may be helpful to follow if you are looking to optimize your ride. Here is a little shortboard surfboard sizing chart to get you started.
Shortboard vs Fish
A lot of surfers mistake fish surfboards for shortboards a lot of the time. This is because both of them are about the same size and, in terms of design, they both have thin, sharp properties that give that maneuverable, performance-based shape. With that said, there are many differences that you should be aware of depending on the style you are going for. Fish boards are one of the most distinguishable boards out there, as they look just like fish.
Fish boards typically have noses that are a bit rounder than shortboard noses, making them a bit less maneuverable. With that said, they do tend to have flatter rockers, helping them to excel when it comes to speed, especially when conditions are a bit smaller. It’s necessary to have your pump down to ride shortboards, meaning they can be a lot more difficult to ride when those mushy, summer conditions start to come around.
When it comes to volume, fish surfboards take the cake. This isn’t necessarily an advantage depending on what you’re after. If you want that extra buoyancy and paddling ability, you might give the crown to the fish. Mix that with the flat rocker and added volume and you have a board that makes cruising much easier too. On the other hand, added volume and buoyancy means less performance and maneuverability. Flatter rockers don’t hold very well in steep conditions.
Overall, if you aren't incredibly confident in your skill level, yet you want something to step up from your longboard phase, a fish surfboard might be your best bet. If you are a veteran surfer who is looking to go out and rip on your local, steep breaks, a shortboard might be in your future. Ask yourself, are you looking for a high-performance shredder or a laid-back cruiser. You probably won't end up climbing to the top of the competitive ranks in a fish. You also can't be shortboard performance.
Shortboard vs Longboard
There is no greater opposite in the world of surfing than that between shortboards and longboards. Longboards run pretty long, typically anywhere from 8’ to 12’. On longboards, the tails are usually square or round, rather than squash or swallow. The rails are much thicker, the surface area is much wider, and the nose is much rounder. Longboards are one of the best boards to learn on and, let’s be honest, if you’re still learning, this article is probably not for you anyway (unless you’re an information junkie).
Longboards are also great for smaller days where shortboards seem impossible to ride. They give you that classic, cruise-like feel. In terms of maneuverability and performance, shortboards are the best around. You won’t find anyone longboarders performing cutbacks or getting air. All-in-all, if you’re on the hunt for performance, get on the shortboard tip.
Shortboard Surfing Tips
We know that getting on a shortboard for the first time isn’t a piece of cake. Even if you’ve mastered the longboard, the fish, the hybrid, or the egg, you may not be able to just hop on and start shredding on your shortboard. Riding a shortboard requires a different kind of skill. Here are some shortboard tips to keep in mind when you get out there:
The shorter the board and the lesser the volume, the harder it’s going to be to paddle. Longboards seem to fly over the water thanks to the thickness and low rocker profiles. When it comes to shortboard surfboard design, you have to keep your weight in the center of the board and utilize that upper-body strength to pull yourself through the water.
Because these boards are shorter, surfers who haven’t ridden them before have a tendency to drag their feet in the water behind them. Make sure to keep your feet up and you’ll notice yourself moving faster with less effort.
Shortboard Pop Up Tips
With longboards, you don't need an insane amount of speed to pop up. When it comes to shortboards, you need both speed and serious balance to get up and hold yourself. Shortboards also tend to take more patience, as you need to wait for the perfect wave. When a good wave starts coming your way, paddle deep and wide. As the wave moves underneath you, you'll feel the energy ride up. Press up on the board in a push-up position and keep the majority of the weight on your back foot so that you don't fall backwards. Your best bet is to keep your stance as wide as you can while retaining comfort to maintain the perfect balance.
Let’s reiterate: KEEP YOUR STANCE WIDE. Seriously, it’s the only way that you’ll maintain the necessary control. Keeping your feet shoulder-width is a good thing to aim for. For that shortboard surfboard speed, you’ll need to pump. The best way to imagine pumping is by thinking of yourself doing a series of small, simultaneous squats while riding the face. We recommend going out and watching some surfers so that you can get a better idea.
Can I start surfing with a shortboard?
We strongly recommend learning with anything but a shortboard. Shortboards might look super cool, though what will look even cooler is actually catching a few waves on a longboard instead of wiping out all day and blowing your confidence on a shortboard. Shortboards are the least forgiving boards out there. You need stability and buoyancy when you are first learning to ride, both of which a shortboard won’t provide you with. If you’re learning, get yourself a soft-top longboard.
What is the difference between a Shortboard and a Funboard?
Funboards usually run a little bit bigger than shortboards, mostly from 6’ to 8’. They are made with rounder features than shortboards, making them a bit easier to ride and cruise on. In terms of exact specs, funboards a bit harder to categorize, as they have a wide variety of customized features. In all, they aren’t made for high-performance surfing, yet they are great for smaller days when you are just looking for a fun ride.
Best type of shortboard for surfing small waves?
Because of the shortboard surfboard shape, they aren’t the best when it comes to surfing small waves. If you live near a beach with sporadic conditions though, buying a standard shortboard might not be in your best interest, especially if you want to increase your yearly wave count. Our best recommendation would be to look for shortboards that are thicker and wider on average. If your board has a lower rocker profile, that’s even better.
If you can, go find yourself a good hybrid board. They share many of the same characteristics as shortboards, yet shapers make them with added features to provide more stability and rideability.
Should a shortboard be taller than you?
If you’re an intermediate surfer, we recommend getting yourself a shortboard that is anywhere from 2” to 6” taller than you. Boards that are really short can be fun to ride, though they will also be much harder to control. If you’re about 6’ tall, don’t be afraid to get a board that is 6’6”.
Foam Or Fiberglass Shortboard?
If you’re looking for a shortboard that is easier to ride and more suited towards easy riding, we recommend that you get a foam shortboard. They are far safer in crowded water, they’re much easier to ride, they’re very cheap, and they don’t ding as easy as fiberglass boards.
If you’re in it for pure performance, get yourself a fiberglass board. Simple as that.
Ready To Rip?
So by now you should have all the information you need to narrow down your choices and get the shortboard of your dreams. Remember, if you’re a beginner and you’re not totally comfortable with your skills, get yourself a different board. Trust us, you’ll have far more fun catching waves without frustration. You’ll know when you’re ready to take the step up.
For those surfers who have already hit that threshold, we welcome you to shred heaven. If you're looking for a good shortboard surfboard for sale, pick from one on our list or head over to your local shop to check some out there. Don't fear buying used boards either, as long as it's in good condition!
If you want to go with one of our recommendations, we highly recommend the Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer for soft-top riding and the Bulldog V-Flex Shortboard for glassed riding. We wish you the best of luck on your shortboard journey. Have fun and get in some barrels for us!
Our #1 Pick - WAVE BANDIT BEN GRAVY PERFORMER