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Lessons & Associations Catalog The Basics


Almost all surfing equipment is unisex, except for wetsuits. However, if you get a custom board you can add your preference in cool graphics. Because women are generally smaller and lighter than men are, they can use smaller and less buoyant boards.


There are several types of boards. The most familiar are the shortboards that are able to make tight maneuvers over the face of the wave. They're also called sinkers because they're not very buoyant. Because of their speed and agility they don't make for a good learning board. Shortboards are around 6 feet to 7 feet in length.

The other well-known style of surfboards is the tankers. This was the style for decades. They're also referred to as longboards. Longboards are the surfboards of "Beach Blanket Bingo", where you can ride the nose, "hang ten", or ride tandem. They are a lot of fun and are coming back into style as a lot of retro things are. Tankers are 10 to 12 feet, about 22 inches wide, and have a rounded nose.

The in-between boards, sometimes called fun boards are smaller and lighter versions of the tanker. They're around 7 to 9 feet long, about 22 inches wide, and have a rounded nose like a tanker. These make the best learning boards. You'll also see plastic beginner boards that look like they're made from Nurf Football materials. They're softer than a regular board but not much less expensive. Your best bet is to go with the "real" surfboard that is made of fiberglass. If for no other reason, it just looks cooler.

Surfboards range from about $300.00 to $600.00 new. Check out the local surf shop for used boards on sale. If you go with a used board, make sure that any dings are patched. None of the core foam should be exposed. If the patches leak or the foam is exposed, it will absorb water. This will make the board heavy, water logged, and hard to ride. This goes for any dings that a new board gets. Patch them before you go back out in the water.

Shannon Surfboards
P.O. Box 60549, San Diego, California 92166-8549 USA.
Tel. 1-619-221-8032.
Surfboards designed and shaped by Shannon Payne-McIntyre.


Fins also known as skegs provide stability and turning capabilities. You may have seen a tri-fin arrangement. This improves the turning capabilities allowing the board to make tight carves in the waves. Multiple fin arrangements are usually seen on shortboards.


Leashes attach the board to your ankle. This prevents you from loosing it in the surf and having to swim back to shore to retrieve it. They're made of a shock cord or surgical tubing material and use a Velcro strap around your ankle. The strap should be attached to your back foot. Of course you need to determine which foot will be on the back of the board. The right foot back is "regular" footed and the left foot back is "goofy" footed.

Now how do you determine if you're regular or goofy? In surfing you put your controlling foot back. To find your controlling foot, ask your buddy to give you a shove forward. The foot you step forward on to stop yourself from falling is your controlling foot. This should feel natural. If the stance you choose doesn't feel right, just switch it.

Long leashes are for riding big waves and short leashes are for smaller waves. Leashes are unisex, cost around $20 to $25, and are available at surf shops.


A wetsuit will help protect you from the wind and cold water. How cold the water is will determine the style of wetsuit. For cold water you'll want a full wetsuit with arms and legs covered. For cool water, 70º, you'll want a shorty. A shorty has short sleeves and covers to the thighs like shorts.

They do make women's wetsuits, which are much more comfortable than squeezing into a man's shape. Few surf shops stock a wide variety of women's wetsuits. Your best bet is to look in scuba shops and windsurfing shops.

Body Glove
Tel. 1-800-678-7873.
Web site:
Body Glove Logo

Coral Reef
Tel. 1-714-894-3483

Da Kine Hawaii
Burton, Vermont, USA.
Tel. 514-386-3166.
Web site:
Da Kine Logo

Tel. 1-408-462-5919.

Burton, Vermont, USA.
Tel. 1-800-538-0764.
Web site:
O'Neill Logo

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