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New to Surfing? Your questions answered

Surfing as a beginner can be a daunting task, and we know how confusing it can be trying to pick the right equipment. With so many boards, wetsuits, leashes and fins to choose from, we thought we’ve given you a helping hand with a go-to guide for beginners that’ll hopefully get you out in the water with a little more ease. We’ll be adding to it as we go, so keep an eye on our blog for more tips, or message us on Facebook if you have any burning questions for the team here at Mount Surf Shop.

What board should I choose?

One of the most common questions we get asked in the shop. If you’ve never been surfing, we’d recommend trying your hand at surfing on a foam board to get you started in the water. Being made from foam means the board not only floats as much as you need it to (aiding balance when paddling and catching waves), they also cause much less damage if you happen to have a collision with your board or someone else’s. If you’ve surfed a foamboard and feel confident in your abilities paddling out, catching waves and popping up, it’s time to try out a hardboard. When choosing a hardboard, you’ll need to take a few things into consideration such as your strength, weight, and height, but in general, the bigger the board the better when you’re learning. We’d recommend going for a 7-8ft board with at least 50-60 litres of volume, but this does depend on your weight and height. If you’re not sure what board you’re ready for yet, we have a number of demos available at our Downtown store, from foamboards and longboards to performance shortboards and mid-lengths. Check out the chart below for recommended surfboard volumes:

What surf leash should I use?

Generally speaking, a leash should be around the same length as your surfboard, so for example, a 6ft surfboard should be paired with a 6ft leash. If your board is between sizes, go for a longer leash, eg. if it’s 6’6”, use a 7’0” leash. You’ll want to be as far away as possible from the board if you have a wipeout, but also don’t want it to be too long and potentially hit your fellow surfer in the face. Leashes tie around your ankle (or knee in the case of longboards) and connect to the board using velcro straps. Although seemingly insignificant, they can make a huge difference to your surfing experience so don’t just buy any old leg rope. When buying a leash, look out for a swivel between the ankle strap (cuff) and cord, and between the cord and strap connecting it to the board (known as the rail saver). Cheap leashes tend to lack these swivels and become tangled after only a few waves. Poor quality ankle or knee straps can also be scratchy and irritating on your leg while you surf and will hinder you more than help, potentially affecting your pop up and causing issues when you’re riding a wave. Pick a high-quality leash that isn’t going to tangle, hurt or snap, and be safe in the knowledge your board isn’t going to get lost in a wipeout or hurt someone else.

What leg should my leash go on?

Your leg rope should wrap around the ankle of your back leg, the leg closest to the tail of your board. If you have your right foot at the front and your left leg at the back, you’re considered goofy. If your left leg is forward and right leg is closest to the tail, you’re considered regular.

What’s a deck grip and do I need one?

A deck grip is a piece of sculptured foam with a contoured shape that sticks to the tail of a surfboard and provides more traction than a layer of wax. Generally speaking, deck grips are only really required on boards used by intermediate to experienced surfers, however, a deck grip can also provide learners with a great indication of where their foot should be placed when they pop up, encouraging their back foot to sit in the right spot above the fins. This aids turning and maneuverability, and a deck grip lasts much longer than wax. 

How to choose the right fins for a surfboard

Before choosing your fins, you’ll need to know how many fins your board takes, and which fin is compatible with your fin boxes (the holes in your surfboard). Fin set ups range from one to five fins, which is identified by how many fin boxes your board has, and the boxes differ slightly in shape, supporting FCS, FCS II or Futures fins. The most common fin set up is a thruster, which is three fins, one in the middle closest to the tail and two fins a few inches further up the board closer to the rails. Fins come in sizes extra-small to large, and should be selected depending on how much you weigh. Fins also do much more than help your surfboard balance in the water, like generating and maintaining speed.

How to pick a wetsuit

Wetsuits come in a number of thicknesses and shapes, serving a whole host of purposes. Whether you’ve suffered from a serious case of wax rash or get way too cold in the sea, a wetsuit is the answer. Made from a rubbery material called neoprene, the thickness of a wetsuit can range from 1mm of to 6mm and should give you more protection from the sun, sea temperature and weather than a swimsuit or boardshorts, ultimately allowing you a longer session in the sea. The most common wetsuit is a full-length suit that covers the whole body, arms and legs, also known as a steamer. These come in a range of thicknesses which favour different sea temperatures and weather conditions, for example, a 3/2 wetsuit (meaning the suit has a neoprene thickness of 3mm in the body and 2mm of neoprene in the arms and legs) would suit a sea temperature of around 16 degrees celsius. In much warmer conditions than this, a spring suit might be required, which can come in a variation of shapes, including short arms, no arms, or short legs. Any colder than 13 degrees and you might want to grab a 4/3 wetsuit, potentially with a hood, boots and gloves if you are sensitive to the cold.

Wetsuits also differ in how you put them on. Some have a back zip, some have a chest zip, and some have no zip at all. Wetsuits with back zips are generally the easiest suit to get into, but they won’t fit as snug around the neck as a chest zip or zip free suit, and are more likely to let water in. Chest zip and zip free suits also free up the shoulders slightly more than a back zip suit would, making paddling easier. Zip free suits are the hardest to get in to, so we’d recommend all beginners start with a back zip.

More questions? Keep an eye on our blog for more updates on how to get started in the surf, or come in store and talk to a member of our team for more advice and information. 


December 10, 2019 — Holly Gear