|Lola hangs five on her Bing longboard, wearing the Seea Montara top. Photo by Luki O'Keefe.|
Trying out surfboards can be like shopping for a swimsuit or jeans. You have to try on a lot of different cuts to find the right match for your body, think about where you will be wearing it, and if the color and print vibes with your personal style.
Just like you can't just shrink a pair of boardshorts and have them fit right on a girl's body, we’ve often wondered if surfboards for girls are different from surfboards for guys — after all, the lady surfers we admire most have a graceful distinct surfing style that matches the types of boards they ride.
|The Bing Lovebird with fabric inlay at the surf shop El Aquanauta in Mallorca. Photo courtesy of Bing.|
To answer that question we called upon the experts: Margaret Yao Calvani, talented surfer of all board lengths and general manager at Bing Surfboards, and shaper Christine Brailsford to ask them about the best surfboards for women. Whether you are shopping for the next board in your quiver, or searching for first love, check out these tips from the experts to help you find your best match.
Lola In The Neighborhood from Bing Surfboards on Vimeo. Lola rides the Bing 9'2" Pintail Lightweight.
Why a surfboard for a girl is different:
Size stats are always the first to get rattled off in a surf shop, but volume and the finer template details are also just as important to consider for a woman. “Lady logging is typically very elegant and graceful which requires a loggy style board, but having too much volume or weight can make the board cumbersome and difficult to manage in/out of the water,” Margaret says.
The majority of Christine’s boards are custom orders and she says that every surfboard is truly made for each person’s needs, ability and bodies. “Many of my female customers are looking for a board that is easy to catch waves, duck dive and turn,” she says.
When it comes to shorter boards, the right balance of not too much, but not too little volume can make or break your sessions. “As ladies, we don't always have the same upper-body paddling power as a dude so a little extra glide is nice, but we also need to be able to get under the waves and out into the line-up on a good-sized day,” Margaret says.
“Also, the tail and rails are an important feature to focus on as well because our center of gravity is higher so when turning the board, it's nice to have some tail rocker, maybe even a hard edge in the tail to help create a smooth transition from rail to rail. Otherwise, it might look like you're trying to "muscle" your turns which isn't as smooth or graceful,” Margaret says.
|Lauren Hill rides the Bing Dharma. Photo by Swilly.|
Common mistakes in surfboard choice:
Don’t be afraid of a real log that's a pain to carry long distances, or a smaller shortboard than what you’re used to dropping in on.
“The most common mistake a female customer makes when choosing a longboard is being intimidated by length and going too short. Especially if it's your intention to cross-step and noseride, you need more board and stability to get the solid tip-rides. With shortboards, it's the opposite, oftentimes ladies will go too big and the board will be corky and unresponsive, not to mention hard to duck-dive,” Margaret says.
We ladies care about looks, but know its not everything. That goes for surfboards too. While working at Surfy Surfy, Christine says she has seen women make bad decisions because they were romanced by the surfboard’s shiny exterior.
“Choosing a board for what it looks like (color, designs, etc…) or because of what their favorite pro surfer rides does not mean it will work for you," Christine says.
Christine echoes that length, width and thickness are not the only stats to ask about. "Another mistake is only looking at the length of the surfboard, as opposed to the overall template, volume, rocker, rails, edge and fin setup. Talk with your local shop and don't be affair to be honest with what you would like to do in your surfing. They are professionals in helping you reach your goals,” Christine says.
|Lola on the nose in the Montara rashguard. Photo by Ed Fladung.|
Tips for surfboard shopping:
Try out as many boards as you can from your friends to help you figure out what you like and don't like. In a perfect world, get a surfboard made for you.
“You should find a reliable shaper who will take the time to dial-in the volume of the board for you and not just hand you something off the rack,” Margaret says.
And then start building your quiver.
“Also, don't forget that surfboards are like shoes, there are different styles for every occasion. Don't go into buying a board with the expectation that one-size-fits-all because then you'll end up with a board that sort of does everything just OK, but not one thing especially well and probably be disappointed," Margaret says.
"A lot of shops will try to sell lady surfers their most all-around 'easy to ride' model which is usually something like an 8'0 egg shape with down rails and a hard-edge and 3 fins. This board will not noseride like a proper log nor will it go fast down the line or turn in the pocket like a shorter shape, so you end up stuck in the middle where you only catch 1 out of 5 waves and only get to stand there and draw a straight line down the wave. Boring!!!" Margaret says.
|The Bing Pintail Lightweight is a popular model for ladies.|
Most Popular Shapes for Women:
Bing Pintail Lightweight longboard: “It's an all-around traditional style longboard with slight nose concave and moderately heavy glass for stability when walking and noseriding, but with 60/40 down rail and a hard edge in the tail that makes the board easy to turn and maneuver.”
Bing Lovebird longboard: “A little more modern than the Pintail Lightweight, the Lovebird has slightly more rocker for forgiving wave-entry, and more turned down rail and hard edge combined with a deep vee in the tail for sensitive turning ability. The board will turn on a dime but still maintain that single-fin feel. The board often comes with a unique fabric inlay that makes it extra stylish.”
|Lauren Hill on the Dharma, one of the top Bing short boards for girls.|
|The Furrow Stubbie single fin.|
The Furrow Paipo: "The paipo is an essential board in my quiver. It is ridden prone, on your belly, with swim fins. It is great for super small days that would normally keep me out of the water, to flying through inside high tide shore break, to blazing down sizable peeling point breaks. I lovingly give this board the nickname 'the stoke keeper' as it does exactly that….keep me stoked. I designed my paipo board with down the line speed and turning (to control that speed) in mind."
|A hand shaped wooden Paipo by Christine Brailsford.|
"I recommend the paipo to surfers of all levels and abilities. For the new surfer, it is a super fun way to learn how to catch and ride waves without being intimidated by having to 'stand up'. For the more seasoned surfer, it gives them a fun new perspective on riding waves, while strengthening the lower body. I have found this to help me with my overall lung and body strength when stand up wave riding."
|Anne Howe on a paipo shaped by Christine Brailsford.|
California fish: "The California fish template has a special place in my heart. Originally designed and created here in California by Steve Lis and others including Cher Pendarvis, Skip Fry. The fish is a versatile board that works in waist to well over head waves. Generally, I recommend riding these your same height or one to two inches shorter. These boards can be ridden as a quad fin or twin fin setup. My personal California fish is a 5'4'' ( I am 5'6'') with twin keels."
|The Furrow California Fish.|
Round nose fish: "The Round nose fish is a combination of the skatey feeling from a fish with the volume with a round stubbie nose. Flies through sections and makes slow mushy close out waves fun. The Seea x Furrow 5'6" round nose twin fin fish combines the California fish template blended with a full stubbie round nose. It is a board that I have been working on to have a fun, easy to ride, skate-y feeling board for typical days that we have here in Encinitas."
|The Seea x Furrow Round Nose Fish.|
And don't forget to have fun trying all different types of boards!
For more Surfboard schooling:
- Protect your beloved shred sticks with a boardbag by Green Fuz.
- Click to Read more about surfboard shaping with Christine Brailsford.
- Check out the Seeababes in Australia talking about their diverse quivers.