Is Being Tall Bad For Surfing?

Short or Tall, does height matter in surfing?

Many suggest that being tall is a disadvantage for a surfer. The main argument is they have a higher centre of gravity, negatively affecting their balance and have longer legs making maneuvers such as popping up difficult. However, this is not based on any firm fact.

Unlike the general misconception, being tall is not a disadvantage to an average surfer. Taller individuals often have advantages such as faster paddling speed with longer arms and bigger hands.

Let’s look at how the height of a surfer may affect their surfing ability and the disadvantages for their surfing.

Advantages Of Being Tall For Surfing

Tall people have longer arms and bigger hands in general. This is a tremendous advantage when paddling as they can catch more water and glide. Surfing is a paddling game for the average surfer; Most surfers will spend more than 90 per cent of their surfing sessions on paddling or sitting on the board.

More efficient paddling means you can catch more waves and fatigues later than those with poor paddling.

The number of waves a surfer catches significantly impacts surfers’ learning curve. Therefore, tall surfers with good paddling techniques may have some edge compared to shorter people.

The other main advantage of being tall is you may not get easily intimidated by 3-4foot waves. For average surfers, 3-foot waves would be around head height. If you are 6’2, this could be your shoulder height or less.

Misconception About Being Tall For Surfers

Pop-up is difficult

Some may suggest they have longer legs which make the popping up harder. However, it’s not surprising that they also have longer arms. Popping up should not be an issue as long as they have a similar ratio to a regular person.

Balance is difficult

The other argument against their ability to surf is they have a higher centre of gravity. However, For an average surfer, balance and changing direction is related to their skill level and body length ratio rather than a simple measure of height or height of the centre of gravity.

Furthermore, if a tall person has more muscle mass, they may be able to generate more power through the turns and having bigger feet may also assist in shifting weight on the board more swiftly.

Therefore, as long as a tall surfer has good strength and coordination, balancing on board should not be an issue.

Regarding the professional level, height may play a role: Average male professional surfer falls 5’9-5’11.

However, they are not exactly short. Here are the current top 9 surfers and their heights.

Top Male SurfersHeight
Filipe Toledo5’9 (175cm)
Italo Ferreira5’7 (168cm)
Jack Robbinson5’11 (180cm)
Ethan Ewing5’11 (180cm)
Kanoa Igarashi5’11 (180cm)
Miguel Pupo5’9 (175cm)
Griffin Colapinto5’11 (178cm)
Caio Ibelli5’6 (167cm)
Connor O’Leary6’1 (185cm)
Top 9 Male Surfers’ Height

On the upper end, we have Jordy Smith at 6’2, and Owen Wright at 6″3. Check how they surf, and you can decide for yourself.

Owen Wright Surfing

Disadvantages of Being Tall For A Surfer

Finding the correct equipment is difficult if you are above a certain height. The surfboard industry will target average surfers to make the most sales. Therefore, if you are top 1 per cent height of the population, your option will be somewhat limited.

Most major surfboard manufacturers offer custom build surfboards on their websites, but they have upper limits. Therefore, an extremely tall person would have issues.

If you would like to read from a first-person perspective, please read here, where the author highlights his experience as a 6’9 (205cm) guy.

What about HEAVY (Overweight) Surfers?

Having more weight is a different issue. Surfboard volume recommendation is usually based on surfers’ weight and skill.

If you carry extra weight, you must go up the board in volume, which compromises your ability to turn or perform maneuvers.

Let me explain.

The easy way to look at this issue is: for a surfer to make an effective turn, you must sink one side of the rail, and if you have a bigger surfboard, it’s more difficult to sink the rail.

Therefore being HEAVY without being tall may not work as an advantage.

I am not saying overweight surfers are bad surfers! Check this guy out.

Fat person surfing


My name is James, the person behind With 15 years of experience in surfing, I am excited to help you on the journey to becoming a competent surfer.

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