Surfboards are complex hydrodynamic objects made for riding waves. They come in different shapes and sizes for different wave conditions. They represent the most essential piece of surfing equipment and have come a long way in terms of design and construction.
Modern surfboards are now light and strong, and their ability to float comes from their density. Additionally, surface tension, or the strong film at the water surface, also helps keep the surfboard afloat.
When you try to stand on a surfboard without any wave, like in a swimming pool, it will sink. And when this happens while you are trying to catch waves, it can be very frustrating.
If your surfboard sinks, it may be because you have a poor pop-up technique, your surfboard may be too small for you, it may not be right for the wave condition, or may be damaged. Read along and let us help you find out why your surfboard sinks.
Surfing is said to be the most difficult and complex sport in the world. It is not hard to learn, but if you are looking to develop more skills to catch waves from the peak and ride their unbroken faces down the line, it can be very challenging. If you are determined to learn how to surf, here are 10 things you need to know before you start your surfing lessons.
Understanding Your Surfboard
To understand more about how a surfboard sinks and floats, let us first look at the different parts of a surfboard and their functions.
This is the top side of the surfboard and where a surfer stands to surf and lays to paddle. It is also where wax is applied or a traction pad is installed to provide grip. You’ll usually see a slight camber at the deck of a surfboard, from the rail to the middle and then back to the rail. This is known as a domed deck and helps promote easy rail-to-rail movements. The other type of deck is a flat deck.
The nose of the surfboard is the part that sits out of the water. It influences the way the board floats, paddles, and catches waves. On shortboards like guns and fish, the nose is normally pointed, while on funboards and longboards, it is usually round. Some surfers use a nose guard to protect the surfboard from dings and to prevent it from stabbing themselves or others.
The tail is located at the back of the surfboard. There are also quite a few different tail shapes, which provide different board performance. The tail will have a leash plug where the leash is attached to the surfboard.
The rails are the “edge” of the board. They run from the tail to the nose and are where the deck and bottom meet. Like tail shapes, different rail shapes also provide different surfboard performances.
The stringer is a strip of material, typically wood, that runs the whole length of a foam surfboard. It is used to strengthen the board and is already present in a surfboard blank before it is shaped. Most epoxy, soft, and carbon fiber surfboards do not have stringers.
Surfing is a physically demanding activity and there is always a chance of you getting injured while enjoying the sport. But, don’t let this deter you from riding the waves and enjoying the ocean. Here are the 10 common injuries you can suffer while surfing and how to prevent them from happening.
Why a Surfboard Sinks
If you’re surfboard is sinking every time you try to ride it, there is an issue that you have to deal with. Here are a few reasons why your surfboard is sinking.
1. Wrong Surfboard Size
A surfboard will sink if it is dramatically smaller than you. Therefore, when choosing a surfboard, you should keep in mind the three critical factors that determine whether it is the right board for you, namely its design, volume, and dimensions.
When choosing a surfboard, people tend to focus on the length. However, it is often a mistake. What you should also look at is the volume of the board and your level.
- Surfboard Volume
The volume is simply the amount of foam in a board, minus the exterior materials like the glues, fiberglass, and others. It affects the buoyant force that keeps the board afloat.Most affordable surfboards will often have more weight in the materials used for construction, and so you may have to go with higher volumes to offset their weight compared to more expensive boards.For instance, if you are 6 feet tall with a medium build and weigh 175-185 pounds, you will most likely want a board with a volume of 35 to 40 L.
If you ride a smaller surf, you need more volume to your surfboard, otherwise, it will sink. If you ride in moderate surfing conditions, a lower volume will most likely have more power under you to help you stand and plane as you will have more velocity moving you on the surfboard.
At higher speeds, a nimbler board will give you greater control, allowing you to make quicker adjustments. But, there is a limit. Contrary to what you may think, a larger surfer may need a higher volume on their board as it will be harder for them to paddle and catch bigger waves.
Overall, if you are a beginner, start thinking of your surfboard in terms of volume rather than length. Typically, you’re going to see a written indicator of what the volume is for that surfboard. Keep in mind that longer boards are easier to paddle because of their longer waterline, but they are not going to be as maneuverable as shorter ones. On the other hand, wider boards will give you more glide but will be slower.
Here is a chart that shows what volume of board you should go for based on your weight and level.
For kids, the choice of beginner surfboards depends largely on their age. Start kids up to 12 years old on a soft foam surfboard as the material is soft and doesn’t hurt that much when it bumps them in the surf or when they fall on it. Also, remember to let them surf waves they are comfortable with. This will help them build confidence and make them feel safer in the sea.
It is best to have something around 7’ for kids of average size up to the age of 12. As they improve, they can switch to something around 6’6“ or 6’2” in a fish shape as it is easier to turn and aids in progression.
Remember to choose a board with enough float to make paddling and surfing fun. It should also not be so big that it’s hard to control in white water. Furthermore, being relatively easy to carry always helps.
Size Chart for Kids
This is just an approximate guide for there is always room for some variations, and weight becomes less of a crucial factor as the surfer progresses. However, this guide can be a good starting point for those completely unsure about what size of foam surfboard is best.
|Surfer’s Weight/Age||Foam Surfboard Size|
|< 66 lbs. (30kg) / 8 years old||5’5” – 5’8”|
|66-88 lbs. (30-40kg) / 10 years old||5’8” – 6’2”|
|88 to 110 lbs. (40-50kg) / 12 years old||6’2” – 7’0”|
|110 to 132 lbs. (50-60kg) / 14 years old||7’0” – 8’0”|
|132 to 154 lbs. (60-70kg) / 16 years old||8’0”|
|165+ lbs. (75+ kg)||x|
For adult surfers, the perfect choice of beginner surfboard will depend on your weight, height, fitness level, and how often you’re likely to go surfing. Without these details, it’s hard to give an accurate guide as to which board will work for you.
Size Chart for Adults
This is just an approximate guide for there is always room for some variations and weight becomes less of a crucial factor as the surfer progresses. However, this guide can be a good starting point for those completely unsure about what size of foam surfboard is best. If you are in between sizes, opt for the biggest size.
|Surfer’s Weight||Foam Surfboard Chart|
|110 to 132 lbs. (50-60kg)||6’10” – 7’6”|
|132 to 154 lbs. (60-70kg)||7’4” – 8’0”|
|154 to 176 lbs. (70-80kg)||7’10” – 8’5”|
|176 to 198 lbs. (80-90kg)||8’4” – 9’0”|
|198 to 220 lbs. (90-100kg)||8’10” – 9’6”|
|220+ lbs. (100+kg)||9’6” +|
You should be able to find a board that will give enough volume to help you float and make wave catching and paddling relatively easy.
Below are factors to help you determine if you have the wrong-sized surfboard:
- The waves roll under you and your surfboard frequently
Bigger surfboards are usually more buoyant in the water, and chances are your surfboard is too small for you. Choose a wider and longer surfboard so that you have enough space to balance your weight and help you catch and ride more waves.
- You struggle to change directions
It means you have a bulky and long surfboard that prevents you from maneuvering and steering the waves or doing anything at all.
- You lose your balance when trying to stand on your surfboard
When you already know how to stand up on a surfboard and doing it on your new board seems to be difficult, it means that your surfboard is too narrow, and thus, is not giving you enough space to balance your weight and stabilize.
- Your surfboard sinks and swamps while riding waves
If it is difficult to gain speed as you ride the waves, another factor that causes this is the rocker. You have to choose a surfboard with softer rockers.
- You fall off when making side turns
This is a way for your body to tell you that it needs another style of surfing because the technique you are trying to use is not compatible with how you are using your surfboard. It helps to try another technique and adjust until you can complete side turns successfully.
Surfing with the wrong-sized surfboard will kill the fun and good vibes that the sport is supposed to offer you. If you have been surfing for some time and are still having a hard time progressing, then getting a new surfboard that is customized to your height, weight, and level may be the right choice.
2. Poor Pop-up Technique
One of the most important things to master when it comes to surfing technique is how you pop up. This refers to your ability to pop up off of your belly on the board and into a standing position to ride a wave. If you are a beginner, it is common to nail it sometimes and fall off other times, so don’t worry if this happens.
Below are the most common mistakes that surfers make when popping up, which causes the surfboard to sink and prevent them from progressing.
- Mismatched hand position
That is when your hands are placed in different areas, and sometimes, not even on the board.
Before the pop, when you are on your belly, make sure your hands are in a push-up position. You should also be able to draw an imaginary straight line across the board from one hand to the other. One hand should not be further out than the other.
- Wrong stance
Another mistake is that your stance may be too square. You should not put one foot too far from the other and remember that your feet will be facing predominantly to one side of the board rather than facing the nose of the board.
- Standing too tall
When you stand, you should slightly bend your knees, like in a fighting stance, or be crouched over as if you were about to get tackled.
- Your stance is too narrow
Your surfboard stance should be a little further than shoulder-width apart and should not be too close together.
- Your stance is too wide
Your stance should also not be like that of a sumo wrestler. Your feet should not be too close nor too wide but be a comfortable distance apart.
- Popping up with elbows
Using your elbows or forearms might feel more natural at first, but it will put your head in the wrong position. Doing this will put too much weight at the front of the board, which will cause it to sink or nose dive.
- Using your knees to pop up
You should avoid popping up onto your knees or using both knees instead of popping up immediately onto your feet. This problem will cause significant balance shifts that will make it much harder for you to stay on your board.
- Releasing the hands too soon
Do not be afraid to wait and hold on longer to make sure you are stabilized before standing up.
- Looking Down
You should always look in the direction you want to go instead of looking down as facing downward results in falls.
3. Damaged Surfboard
The next thing you need to look at when you think your board is sinking and you can’t seem to stand up on it is whether it has been damaged.
If the board is new, this most likely shouldn’t be an issue. But if it has been dinged during shipping or is used, then you should check for holes or cracks in the exterior finish as this can cause water to seep inside of the board. As a result, the porous foam that makes the board buoyant can work against you by creating areas where water can gather, which will then substantially increase the board’s weight and cause it to sink.
The best thing you can do is let your board dry out thoroughly in the sun or a warm environment, and then, repair the damages. You can find some epoxies and other surfboard repair kits on the market. So if you have a crack in your board and suspect that water has seeped in, you can carefully try to suction the water out of it to verify the damages. However, be very careful because if the fiberglass has been damaged, the edges can be quite sharp.
Can you fix a waterlogged surfboard?
Yes, you can definitely fix a waterlogged surfboard. Do so by letting your surfboard sit in a warm, dry area for a while. The amount of time it needs to dry will vary based on how severe the saturation is. There is no method to determine whether the board is completely dry, but the more time it spends in a warm and dry place, the better your odds.
Once it’s dry, you’ll notice that your board is not as heavy as when it was saturated. Once you’ve given the surfboard enough time to dry, you will want to make sure to get the repairs done immediately, so that you don’t rehash the problem.
Can you be too heavy for a surfboard?
Surfers come in all shapes and sizes. But this sport is for everyone as no matter your size and who you are, there is always a surfboard and a right wave for you.
With that being said, there is no weight limit for surfing and no official weight restrictions since surfboards are made to provide buoyancy for anyone to be able to successfully ride waves. Hence, heavier surfers can simply ride bigger surfboards.
Nowadays, surfboard shapers can also customize your board based on your height and weight for you to easily control it and perform tricks and maneuvers with it.
To prevent your surfboard from sinking and to help you progress, you should always check whether your equipment is damaged. You should also be able to replace or repair these immediately to avoid further harm. Additionally, you should be able to master the basic techniques of popping up and controlling your balance and make sure to get the right size of surfboard based on your level, height, and weight.