Catch Surf surfers riding a party wave together on their beginner soft top surfboards

Surfing is one of the most challenging sports to master. Some would say you can never truly perfect surfing, which is why it becomes a fulfilling lifelong journey. I have been surfing for two decades and still learn new things every session. If you’re brand new to the sport, surfing can seem like an endless uphill battle. Nonetheless, once the surfing bug has bitten you, there is no turning back.

After several sessions of renting or borrowing boards, you may realize it’s time to invest in one of your own. Invest wisely: choosing the right first surfboard is the most critical decision you will make and can have a lasting impact on the trajectory of your surfing progression.


Common Misconceptions

A common mistake beginner surfers make is starting on a board that’s too small or trying to progress to smaller boards too quickly. My first board was a 6’2” because I wanted to rip and surf like the pros in the movies. I didn’t start progressing until a couple of years later when I started riding my dad’s longboard, which paddled and floated much better than my tiny 6’2”. If you start on a board that’s too small, it will feel like you are taking one step forward and two steps back. Remember, surfing has a steep learning curve, so give yourself time and the right board to make solid progress.

Furthermore, as someone who managed our retail store and dealt with many beginners, quite often a customer wanted to rent a shortboard because they were decent skateboarders or snowboarders. However, skateboarding, snowboarding, or wake surfing do not involve paddling into and catching a wave or popping up on an unstable surface. Doing either of those things on a small board with limited experience is a nearly impossible challenge. Starting off on a longer board will expedite the steep learning curve, even if you only use it for a short time.


Beginner Surfboard Sizes

When it comes to sizing a surfboard for a beginner, the general rule is the bigger the board, the easier it is to catch waves and stand up. Choose the biggest board you can comfortably carry on your own to the beach. If you can’t control your board on land, you will have difficulty controlling it in the ocean. This can become a liability for yourself as well as other surfers nearby. Use the sizing chart below to select the right surfboard based on your current weight.

Surfer Weight (lbs.)Hard TopSoft Top
175 lbs. +9’0” +9’0” +
120 - 175 lbs.8’0” - 9’0”8’0” - 9’0”
Under 120 lbs.7’0” - 8’0”7’0” - 8’0”

Beginner Surfboard Shapes

5 different beginner surfboard soft top shapes

The best board shape for a beginner is a longboard. A longboard has more surface area, which creates more buoyancy in the water. As a result, a longboard has more forgiveness than a shortboard while you work on paddling into waves and popping up.

Once you have mastered the longboard (consistently popping up on the majority of waves and can trim down the line both left and right), you are ready to progress to the next shape.  A funboard, such as the Torq Mod Fun, is essentially a condensed longboard under 8’. A fish such as the Torq Mod Fish would be the ideal board to act as a bridge between a longboard and a shortboard. Both these boards maintain width in the nose and tail to help with stability and paddling. These shapes are available in a variety of sizes and volumes.


Torq Longboard and Mod Fun Surfboards

“Best suited for beginner/novice surfers looking to progress their surfing to move to a smaller and/or a traditional fiberglass board”

Surfer holding a Torq mini longboard for beginners

Torq surfboards have quickly become the best-selling surfboard at Cleanline Surf. Originally, Torq surfboards were introduced into our rental fleet to give customers an alternative option to Soft tops and foamie boards. Torq boards come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, which are available for purchase and for rent at our Oregon shops.

All Torq’s are built using the latest in EPS/Epoxy materials. The Torq Epoxy Technology (TEC) combines a lightweight EPS core with Biaxial fiberglass cloth, Epoxy resin, and unique Shield Skin. The result is a lightweight board that offers extraordinary durability and strength.

Torqs are the perfect beginner surfboard for children and adults who want to progress their surfing. Whether that means transitioning to something smaller or perhaps a traditional PU board, the Torq acts as the perfect stop-gap. Because they are so durable, they tend to have a high resale value on the secondhand market. Once you are ready to transition to a new board, you can recoup a decent chunk of your money and apply it to the next board.

As I mentioned, another unique aspect about Torq surfboards is that they make up most of our rental fleet here on the Oregon Coast. You can rent a Torq for $30 a day. If you decide to buy a new board, we will apply that $30 to the purchase of a new board. This is a perfect option for those on the fence about what size to get.

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Variety of colors and sizes
  • Try before you buy at our local shop
  • Good resale value
  • Comes with fins

My Recommendations


Catch Surf Foamie Surfboards

“Best suited for kids looking for a board that is safe and easy to paddle and stand up on and adults looking for boards with more float”

Catch Surf surfboards lined up in the surfboard rack at the Cleanline Surf shop

Catch Surf has become our premier soft top brand over the past few years. Softboards are a great option for beginners because they are wider and thicker than most hard-top boards. This translates to more volume and stability when compared to epoxy or fiberglass boards of similar lengths.

The other reason Catch Surf boards are so great for beginners, especially young children, is that they are safer. When you are new to surfing, it can be hard to control your surfboard in the impact zone where the waves are breaking. This often leads to whitewater turning boards sideways and potentially hitting the user or anyone nearby. The impact will be lesser when a soft piece of foam hits you versus a hard surfboard.

Another great aspect of these boards is that they come with fins that are flexible. This is great for two reasons: it reduces the user's likelihood of getting hit by the fin, which can cause cuts and contusions, and it also is less likely for the fin to break when surfed into shallow water. When catching your first wave, it’s natural to want to milk the ride as long as possible into the beach. I cannot tell you how many broken fins I have seen on our hard epoxy boards from this happening. It is much rarer to see it happen with Catch Surf boards.

If you have children wanting to get into surfing, or perhaps your fitness isn’t up to par, a Catch Surf soft top is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and is your best chance of catching that first wave. The boards are also affordable and are a favorite for those with vacation homes looking to have a couple of boards stowed away in the garage for weekend visits.

Pros

  • Safest option
  • Generous float
  • Comes with impact-safe fins
  • Affordable price point

My Recommendations


Used Surfboards

“Best suited for surfers on a budget”

Pros

  • Cheapest option (depending on the board)
  • Variety of different brands
  • Traditional fiberglass and epoxy options
  • Sustainable (basically acting as a surfboard recycling center)

At Cleanline Surf, we have the largest selection of used boards in the Pacific Northwest. We are constantly updating our Used Board Rack page on Instagram, which features hundreds of boards at any given time. The price is the main benefit of buying a used board instead of something new. Depending on the condition and brand, you can regularly find watertight boards under $400. Usually, boards suited for beginners, such as longboards and funboards, sell pretty quickly, so it’s a good idea to check the page regularly. Buying a used board is the best option for someone looking for a PU board without the $1000 price tag.


Cleanline’s Top Choices

Torq 9'0 Longboard TET

Cleanline’s Top Choice for Adults:
Torq 9'0 Longboard TET

Catch Surf 8'0 Odysea Log Soft Top

Cleanline’s Top Choice for Kids:
Catch Surf 8’0 Log Soft Top

Want to know what our first boards were? Call and chat with us: 888-546-6176


Final Thoughts

There you have it: the best boards a beginner can buy to elevate their surfing. No matter what you are looking for, Cleanline has the board for you. As the largest surf shop in the Northwest, we have plenty of other options that can also work for newbies. At the end of the day, you are free to choose the surfboard you want. We are more interested in selling you THE RIGHT BOARD instead of selling you any board just to make a sale. If you would like to chat more, drop a comment below, call us at 1-888-546-6176, email at support@cleanlinesurf.com, or, if possible, stop by one of our retail shops to chat in person. We hope to see you in the water soon!