Beginner surfers face many challenges. Choosing the right equipment will help you progress more quick and make each session a more pleasant experience. Also, having the correct equipment will help you save money in the long run.
Ideally, you want to buy a surfboard that you can rely on and only progress to the next board when your skill level surpasses what your board can offer. Let’s see if a soft board is a right surfboard for you as a beginner surfer.
A softboard is an excellent surfboard for beginner surfers. Softboard offers great floatation and stability, which makes the paddling easy and helps the surfer to catch more waves.
Increasing wave count is one of the most proven ways to improve surfing. This is because repetition is essential to excel in a particular sport. In surfing, waves do not come consistently, making repetition challenging. Therefore, catching more waves is crucial in surfing.
Furthermore, a softboard is safer than a fibreglass surfboard for a beginner. Novice surfers are not used to the speed and timing of the waves and make many mistakes.
This result in many wipeouts – falling off the surfboard – while trying to catch waves. Wipeout usually involves lots of tumbling and rolling inside the water, and many surfers describe it as ” like being in a washing machine”. A soft surface keeps the surfer safer when the board comes into contact unexpectedly.
In the past, softboard was mainly considered suitable for beginners due to their lack of ability to turn. However, with increasing demand, leading surfboard manufacturers now provide premium softboards that turn well.
Let’s dive deeper into softboards and see a comparison with fibreglass surfboards
Softboard vs Fiberglass Comparison.
|Soft board||Fibreglass surfboard|
|Repair||Difficult to repair||Repairable using simple equipment|
|Durability||Less durable||More durable|
|Maneuverability||Less Maneuverable||More Maneuverable|
Is Softboard Cheaper Than A Fibreglass Surfboard?
Soft boards are cheaper than fibreglass surfboards. The low-end price of a brand new 7″0 soft board starts around $250; some premium soft board goes to $700. In contrast, low-end brand-new fibreglass surfboards generally start at 450, and many well-known brands charge well over 1000 dollars.
Some soft boards come with fins and leashes, which helps keep the cost low. Some fins are often rubber covered on the edges for safety. High-end soft boards provide fin box options that fit your regular FCS or Future fins. These two are the most dominant surfing fin brands, and trying different types of fins will give change how the board feel under your feet.
However, the low price comes at a cost. The re-sale price for the soft boards can be pretty low. Generally, soft boards do not last longer than standard fibreglass, and proper repair is quite challenging.
Therefore, unless the soft board is in excellent condition, you should expect to sell your soft board for less than half the price of your initial purchase. You can use this to your advantage. Buying a decent second-hand soft board can be an excellent opportunity for some people who want to try surfing.
If you have surfed for a couple of weeks and are committed to surfing, buying a decent-quality fibreglass board can be a better investment in the long run.
Is a Softboard More Durable Than a Standard Fibreglass Surfboard?
On average, softboards have a shorter lifespan compared to standard fibreglass surfboards. However, softboards are better for minor dents and damage.
Beginner surfers not used to handling a big board may bump the board on a hard surface. For example, you may hit the board while getting in and out of the car or drop it on the concrete floor.
Fibreglass boards are brittle, and a moderate impact with a hard surface can cause a ding(crack) on the glass. It would be best if you repaired/patched the damager preventing water from going in.
In contrast, dropping a soft board on the concrete ground will not damage the board. While you are getting used to handling a long surfboard, a soft board can be an easy option.
What size softboard should a beginner get?
Generally speaking, the size of the board is dependent on two factors.
- skill level of a surfer
- Weight of a surfer
Beginner Softboard size guideline, Information is available on the manufacturer’s website. I have provided easy to read table for your convenience.
|Weigh(kg)||weight (lb)||Size of the board|
Before you buy a surfboard, remember that not all beginners are the same. Some would have been exposed to the ocean and rough waves, while others could not swim 50 metres.
Complete beginners should go for the biggest board that is not too awkward to carry. Even if it feels big at that moment, you will quickly adapt to its length and catch more waves!
Do you have to apply wax on the softboard?
While a soft top surface provides more friction and grip than a fibreglass surfboard, applying wax on the soft board is recommended to provide sufficient grip. As per fibreglass surfboard, apply a generous base coat before applying the usual surf wax suitable for the water temperature in your region. Most wax manufacturers will provide a temperature guideline, so ensure you buy the correct wax!
How Are Softboard Made?
Most softboard are mass-produced in factories. Unlike fibreglass surfboards, soft board construction varies in different price ranges.
Low-price range soft boards are made of EPS foam core and outer soft shell. Top layers are usually made of EVA foam which provides resistance to impact. The bottom layers are made of HDPE, a plastic material providing less friction so the soft board can glide on the water while surfing.
The higher-end soft board may have an epoxy glass layer to provide extra durability and contains a stringer(s) in the middle with more premium material such as carbon.
Can You Repair The Soft Board?
Soft boards can be repaired using a simple repair kit from a surf shop. However, ensure buying the correct type of repair kit. Depending on what you are repairing, it requires different materials.
The soft top that covers the deck does not require proper repair. It’s generally cosmetic. Natural use and exposure to the sun will slowly damage the deck.
If the soft deck or bottom has been lifted off, you can use epoxy glue to stick it down. If no material is left to be stuck down, this Sponge-Rez can be an excellent option to create a soft surface. However, this Sponge-Rez will melt the EPS core. So ensure the ding has not penetrated the Epoxy shell.
If the inner shell is damaged, it causes water to go into the EPS form. It will make the board heavier and difficult to paddle and carry. This needs repair. Most soft boards are made of EPS form + epoxy glass. So you will need an Epoxy repair kit.
Do NOT buy a body board repair kit. Different resins can melt the foam, and you may end up with a giant hole. Always test on small areas first and check with the manufacturer.
So, Is softboard the right board for you?
Softboard can be an excellent choice for someone who is just starting. softboards are fun, cost-effective, safe and easy to learn from. However, if you are committed to surfing, purchasing a decent minimal/longboard fibreglass board could be a money-saving strategy in the long run.