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Understanding the Different Types and Shapes of Surfboards

Tanmay Tikekar

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There are various types of surfboards that are used on different types of surfs. Here is the particulars of the different types of surfboards, and how they are used.

Beginners Over Here

Learners should go for wide, thick, and moderately long surfboards, since they are the easiest to maneuver and control.

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All of us are enamored by the skinny dude riding monstrous waves. Surfboarding is awesome, once you master the art.
To make the transition from 'that guy who keeps falling off' to 'that dude', the surfboard is more important. Some surfboards are built for particular purposes, and using them for different ones requires mastery over the basics of the trade.
There are two basic divisions of surfboards: longboards and shortboards.

Longboards were the original surfboards, originating in the Polynesian islands, and coming to the attention of the Western world via Hawaii. The early longboards were carved out of wood, and weighed more than 50 kg!
Modern longboards, made from composite materials, can weigh less than 20 kg, and are much more aerodynamic. Most modern longboards have a single fin.

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Shortboards are generally 6 - 7 feet long, and can have 2 - 5 fins. They are easier to perform sharp maneuvers with, but are harder to keep afloat due to their smaller area.
Here's a list of the various types of surfboards widely used today, and their uses.

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This basic type of shortboard is designed for the advanced type of surfer, and is built for speed and maneuverability. They are usually between 5.5 and 6.5 feet long.


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This shortboard has a wider, more rounded design than other shortboards. The wider shape provides more stability than other types of surfboards. These are generally 7 - 8 feet long.

Egg-shaped Surfboard

Due to the emphasis on stability, it's difficult to perform eye-catching maneuvers on egg surfboards, but they are the best choice for beginners. Egg surfboards made from foam are the ideal choice, since they also minimize the risk of injury.


Gun surfboards are moderately long, thin, and narrow, and have tapered ends. This makes them twitchy and easy to perform sharp maneuvers on. They are usually 7 - 10 feet long, and have 3 or 4 fins.
This type is used on high waves, and thus has a moderate-to-high upward curve along its length (called 'rocker'). Their shape also makes it easier to paddle out to the higher waves, where it is at its best.

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This type of shortboard gets its name from its obviously piscine shape. It is a type of shortboard, but has a more rounded nose. These are between 5 and 6 feet long, and are ideal for medium-sized waves.

Fish-shaped Surfboard


Funboards are the best all-rounders - or the best compromise, depending on your view - and combine the easy paddling of longboards and easy maneuverability of shortboards. These are usually 6.5 - 9 feet long.

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The original surfboard, traditional longboards are still one of the best choices for a beginner. Longboards are usually 8 - 12 feet long, although models up to 14 feet long are used too. Their large size gives them a stable and smooth ride, and makes them easy to paddle.
Longboards are great for catching waves, but can be hard to get through white water. Although the more spectacular shortboard tricks can't be performed on a longboard, many prefer the fluid, smooth style of the latter, and all but the most agile moves can be performed on longboards.


Malibus are basically longboards, but are a bit shorter and narrower, and have pointier ends. This makes them slightly more maneuverable than longboards.


Hybrids are a combination of any of the prevalent types, created to make them easier or more maneuverable, according to the surfer's needs. The most popular hybrid version is a combo of the shortboard and the fish.
Getting the right board for the kind of surf you are expecting to encounter is vital, especially if you don't have much experience. Do that right, and the first step to becoming 'that dude' is accomplished.