There is much more to surfboards than merely their color, style, and look. Professional surfers understand the importance of choosing a board that is compatible with the surfer. Your level of experience should also determine the type of board that you choose to purchase.
The material that a surfboard is made from plays a vital role in your performance when riding waves, and you’ll be able to find various boards made from different types of materials. This article aims to help you decide which type of surfboard is best for you.
Surfboards that are made from fiberglass are one of the most popular American surfboards these days, thanks to their high quality. They were first created in the 1940s, and the combination of polyester resin and polyurethane foam has been popular amongst surfers for more than 50 years.
Fiberglass surfboards feel very natural and smooth in the water and have a great resin gloss and clarity. Most professionals feel that fiberglass surfboards perform the best when compared to all other boards. However, you should keep in mind that fiberglass boards need a lot of maintenance, as they are quite fragile and can break easily if dropped.
Upon first inspection, you’ll notice that fiberglass surfboards have more fiberglass on the bottom than the top. This is due to the board needing to compensate for the pressure and weight of your body.
Fiberglass boards are wrapped in fiberglass cloth and have a ‘core’ made from polyurethane. They also possess a better flex when out in the ocean in comparison to epoxy surfboards.
Additionally, surfboards made from fiberglass are able to absorb far more shock than most others, which makes the overall surfing experience much smoother. Unfortunately, despite these positives, research has concluded that fiberglass surfboards become useless after a short period, making them more harmful to the environment.
Smoother performance - Research has found that fiberglass performs better when riding waves in comparison to boards made from epoxy. It also provides surfers and their boards with more strength to surpass any buckling they may face.
Stiffer and harder - Fiberglass surfboards are more potent than their epoxy counterparts, and most professionals prefer harder boards over softer ones.
Better wave-catching potential - The ability for fiberglass surfboards to withstand the powerful force of larger waves while still maintaining freedom makes them popular amongst professional surfers. But, if you are still a novice surfer, you would be better off using epoxy surfboards, as they do not cause severe injuries and impacts when you make a mistake.
Cheaper than epoxy - This one is quite self-explanatory. You will end up paying less for a fiberglass surfboard than for one made from epoxy.
Easily damaged - Although fiberglass is a stiff and hard material, it is very susceptible to cracking and shattering when dropped. Be sure to exercise caution when handling a fiberglass board.
Epoxy was first created in 2005 by surfboard design experts. It is three times lighter than polyurethane and is more buoyant as well. Epoxy is a much better choice if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint.
Epoxy does not emit nearly as many volatile organic compounds as polyurethane does. Epoxy surfboards also have polystyrene foams and are coated with an epoxy resin. This became a popular method in the production of surfboards, as fiberglass became scarce in 2005.
Epoxy surfboards are better suited to beginners, thanks to their lightweight and easy to handle nature. They also float much better than boards made from fiberglass, which gives amateur surfers a better chance at enjoying the waves.
Epoxy boards also produce less impact and injury when surfers collide with them.
Stronger than fiberglass - Resin made from epoxy is roughly 35% more durable than its fiberglass counterpart. This is part of what makes epoxy surfboards so popular for practice applications, especially for children and teens. Epoxy surfboards are also the best choice for those who surf in rocky areas.
Longer lasting - There are several factors that contribute to the long-lasting nature of epoxy surfboards, a few of which we will discuss shortly.
Lightweight - Boards made from epoxy weigh much less than surfboards made from fiberglass, which provides a significant advantage when surfing, especially when riding large waves.
Less waterlogging - As we mentioned earlier, fiberglass surfboards are prone to damage, especially when dropped or mishandled. Cracks will begin to form, which will allow water into the board itself. When this happens, the surfboard becomes significantly heavier, which makes it much less buoyant. Epoxy boards do not face this problem, and you can surf over rocky areas problem-free.
Travel-friendly - Many surfers enjoy traveling to pursue a good surfing experience, and since epoxy boards are super lightweight and do not damage easily, they are great for traveling.
More expensive - Of course, all of these benefits come at a price. The durable material will cost you a few extra dollars when compared to fiberglass, but it is worth the investment, as these boards can survive a lot of wear and tear.
As we have covered, epoxy and fiberglass surfboards both have their pros and cons. They each offer unique advantages for different surfers with different styles.
If you are looking for a hard, stiff, and professional-quality surfboard, and are extra careful when handling your board, you may want to opt for a fiberglass surfboard. They are better for catching waves, are smoother on the water, and are generally cheaper than epoxy.
However, if the price is not a big deciding factor for you, you could go for an epoxy board, which offers much more durability, will last longer in the long run and is better for traveling overall.
The surfboard you choose will likely come down to taste and preference, so try and find which board works best for you. The most important thing to remember is to have fun!
I suppose you could say I came to surfing later than most. I didn't grow up by the water, but after years working the 9-5 grind I felt its draw and decided it was time to lead a slower life. These days I try and spend time in the water every day and consider the ocean as my living room: a place to relax, have fun, and just enjoy life.