Updating your quiver
There's nothing better than a new board to put you in the mood for your surfing.
It's a great feeling when you've got a brand new, 'ding free' board with a fresh coat of wax on, knowing you'll be able to pull off those bottom turns sharper and quicker than ever before.
Nowadays there's a wealth of new and good quality second hand boards available on the web and in local surf shops.
Shops will allow you to trade in your old board against the price of a new one but check around for the best price and ask other surfers. Alternatively you can sell it online or offer a swap with someone.
The general rule of thumb is, only buy off the rack, if you know exactly what you want, dimension wise. Otherwise go to a shaper and have a chat about what you want.
Custom ordering your board from a shaper allows you to specify the exact dimensions you require but you'll need to know what they are. Alternatively, arrange to talk to the shaper and discuss with him what your requirements are and how well you surf and what sort of waves you ride - be brutally honest with yourself.
A board that really works for you is rare. When you find it, it's best not to deviate too much from the shape - providing you're surfing well on it. You can always take a template from it or write down the spec so you can have it re-made later.
The best way to update your board is to decide what you like in your current board and then refine it.
For example, if your current board spins out in tight turns then get the new one slightly narrower in the tail, or try a little more rocker with a thinner tail.
Maybe you're having trouble with your board bogging down in sloppy, slower surf. One way to fix this is to get your next board a little wider in the tail and opt for a fish shape.
The more experienced you become, the more boards you'll be able to ride well. It's best to begin with boards from the country where you surf as they are built to suit conditions. As you progress, you can experiment a little more and shop around.
In the UK today we have imported boards from all over the world. It doesn't necessarily make them better because they come from Autralia or South Africa. Good shapers exist all over the world.
We don't have Hawaiian power over here so a board built for surfing 8 ft Sunset in Hawaii may not perform as well at your local spot when it's 2ft and onshore.
One of the best ways to find out which boards work best for you is to try out a few different ones and keep a note of what felt right.
Many top surfers are now riding boards that are extremely thin with lots of rocker. There is also a big resurgence in retro boards with eggs, fish and twin fins becoming increasingly popular as well as the long boarding revival.
What works for one person may not work for someone else. Choose a board for the conditions you are surfing in most. When you have more money or a sponsor you can begin building up your quiver so you have different boards for different conditions.
No single board will work well in all conditions.
Thanks to Peninsular Surf for some of the information sourced.