Different board shapes are better for different skill levels and different surf conditions.
Whether you are adding to your quiver or picking out your very first board, you don't want to waste several hundred dollars (at least!!)
We'll help you avoid that typical grom mistake by explaining the different shapes, what conditions and ability levels they are used for, and then rounding it out with an example board.
You'll be able to paddle out anywhere with the confidence that you are on the right board to help you surf your best!
Surfboard Shapes: The 6 Types
There are three main things that define a surfboard shape: The length, the nose shape, and the tail shape (including fins.)
Within the range of each of these main shapes you can find the performance you like based on the width, thickness, material, and rail shape, of which there are infinite variations determined by the shaper.
But, for now we'll focus on the main shapes generally recognized by surfers. Once you know the types, you can find the right fit for you based on your skills, size, and conditions at your favorite break. There are 6 basic surfboard types: Longboard, Shortboard, Fish, Egg, Hybrid, and Funboard.
Each of these boards has a very definite purpose behind its design and different shapes will have advantages in different surf conditions. We break out the specifics for you below!
Longboards are what everyone thinks about when they think of a classic surfer from Waikiki or Malibu (ok, you are probably thinking of this guy.)
These boards are usually 8ft to 12ft long and have a rounded nose with just the hint of a point (for hanging ten off the front!) and a tapered tail.
Because longboards are generally a little bit wider and thicker they paddle very easily in small to medium conditions, but can become a bit unwieldy when the surf gets big.
Also, for the same reasons, long boards make it easier to catch waves in small to medium surf. Longboards are great for all levels of surfers from beginners to advanced surfers, so they work for just about anyone.
Example: Wavestorm 8'
The Wavestorm 8' Classic Pinline Surfboard is a great example of the longboard shape.
At 8ft long and 22.5 inches wide making it the ideal size for beginners to paddle out and maneuver around while learning to select the right waves and get up on their feet.
The tapered tail also accommodates a tri-fin design that promotes stability and easy turns now common on most boards.
The soft top deck is forgiving and comfortable and durable enough to last for years while you hone your skills.
We recommend this board for small to medium waves and beginner to intermediate surfers who just want to go out and improve their skills while having a great day on the waves.
Shortboards are usually what you see when you see the pros paddle out to catch a wave during surfing competitions. The boards are almost always under 7ft. long with sharper pointed noises that rocker up and a tapered tail section.
They are built for high performance speed and maneuverability in almost all conditions allowing for aggressive turns on the water.
They don't float as well (because they are smaller!) so they take a little more effort to paddle out, but are easier to duck dive or turtle with than a longboard. Shortboards are great for more than a beginner, so intermediate to advanced surfers who want to start pushing the performance of their boards.
Shortboards are a joy out on the waves, just make sure you have been surfing long enough to enjoy them.
Example: South Bay Board Co. 6' Razzo
The Razzo 6 ft. surfboard design is built for performance while still being accessible to the advanced beginner to intermediate surfer.
The slightly round nose allows for a little more buoyancy while but is balanced out by the more blunt squash tail for performance.
The turning radius is sharp and crisp on this board while still offering the forgiveness you need as you try out new maneuvers.
We like that this board is for surfers that are looking to take their surfing up a notch and want start pushing themselves.
We also like that the Razzo allows for a wider range of surf conditions from smallish up to bigger waves for those that are ready to tackle more challenging surf. If you are ready to try what is next after a longboard, the Razzo is a great option.
Fish Board Shapes
Fish surfboards came about as an innovation in the 1970s. The fish is shorter and flatter than a shortboard (so under 7 feet) and is so named because of its split tail shapes. The distinct V notch in the back comes in a range of sizes and the tail shape is also called a swallowtail sometimes.
You'll see it used in modified versions on other surfboard designs sometimes as well. The fish surfboard shape really helps it paddle and maneuver well, making it a nice step before going full shortboard.
The fish is mainly used for surfing in smaller, mushier conditions. If the waves are a little underwhelming, you probably want a fish to help you maintain your speed in those flatter areas of the wave.
Example: THURSO SURF Lancer 5'10'' Fish
The Thurso Surf Lancer Fish is a great board in smaller waves because it is both stable and able to help you perform some seriously sweet moves.
The fish tail allows for more surface area for better hold in the wave and control as you go from side to side.
We also like that it lives up to the fish shape reputation of keeping speed through flatter areas of the wave as you look for better sections to maneuver in.
While excelling in the small surf, this board also provides enough lift and speed for you to rip it up in medium size waves as well, so we love it as an all around performer.
Egg Surfboard Shapes
The Egg is the classic beginner shape, perfect for anyone looking to see what you have for surfing ability. It is shorter than a long board, somewhere in the range of 6 ft to 8.5 ft ins size, so it is easier for beginners to handle when paddling.
It's called and Egg because the nose is a rounded, more oval shape, like an egg. The tail is also tapered down but blunted a little bit at the end. The egg is great in smaller surf, and generally easy to get up on because it is so stable in the water. Most of the time you will find surf lessons are given on Egg shaped boards.
Although they don't look like designer surfboards, these are truly great boards to get out on the water and have some fun!
Example: Wave Bandit Easy Rider 8'0
The Easy Rider is a great board for any range of ability, but again, we especially like it for beginners.
When you just want to get out on the water and catch some waves on smaller days, this egg shaped surfboard will get you up and surfing in no time.
This size and shape are easy enough to paddle, stable when you get up, and just a fun all around board when you are out on the waves.
Hybrid Board Shapes
Hybrid surfboards offer a wide range of options, as they just combine some of the characteristics of some of the other surfboard designs on our list. Want a board that is easy to paddle and stand on like an egg, but has a fishtail for a little more performance?
That board, my friend, is a hybrid. Want a swallow tail on a short board for serious high performance? That's also a hybrid board. You'll also sometimes hear multi-material boards referred to as hybrids (like a soft top with a slick bottom.)
A surfboard designer can come up with an array of options for hybrid boards, from tail shapes to width and rail curves. Whatever surfboard design your heart desires, you can find in a hybrid board. Our only recommendation is to really understand what you are asking for when you go in for a hybrid board.
They are great for any surfer, and just about any wave they are designed for, but you have to know what kind of surfer you are and what kind of wave you are going to surf to get the right Hybrid board.
Example: South Bay Board Co. Ruccus 7'
We love the Ruccus 7ft because it gives all the ease of surf and stability for someone with beginning ability.
It is wider than a normal Longboard or Funboard, but short enough that smaller folks and kids can handle it as well.
It is also super buoyant, making it easer for young surfers to paddle.
We also like the way it performs on smaller waves, which is again great for beginning level surfers.
The soft top means it is wax free (another plus with kids that get wax everywhere.) This is one of the great surfboards for getting in to surfing!
Fun Board Shapes
The Fun Board is just a small size version of the longboard and range in length from 6ft to 8ft. The trade off for the smaller size is more maneuverability when paddling (and carrying to beach!) but you lose some the ease of paddling or paddle power when you are on the water.
Fun boards are great for the surfer who is not quite as big a person, and also good for days when the surf isn't very big either. We also like the Fun Board as a transitional step for someone who is looking to move down a size from a longboard, but isn't quite ready for the rigors of a shortboard.
The shape is still great for catching waves and, as the name implies, it is built for getting out on the water and having fun!
Example: South Bay Board Co. 6'8" Casper
The Funboard is the everybody board, and Casper 6ft 8in fits that surfboards bill perfectly.
It's stable and can catch small waves, but also has a nice little swallowtail design giving the board a little extra performance out on the water in as the waves get bigger.
The one great thing about the Casper surfboard is that although it has a wax free soft top, it still has a traditional fiberglass bottom, making it more like one of the traditional glassed surfboards than those with polymer bottoms.
Whether you are looking for your first surfboard or your fourth, the Casper is a great size and shape to have in your quiver!