Your most important piece of equipment when surfing is always going to be the surfboard. There is a science and an art to choosing the right surfboard for your skill level. Once you have your surfboard and a wetsuit or a swimming costume, depending on where you are, what’s next?
Turns out, there is a list of essential accessories. Some additions will make your surfing experience way more fun and pleasurable if you have the correct items. As with all things surfing, these accessories vary, and there are a new set of choices to make. This list should help.
Many years ago, all surfboard fins were glassed-on and attached to the boards. Once on, there was no way to replace them or to swap them apart from knocking them out and re-glassing them on.
As surfers started travelling more, so there were a few inventions that helped surfers to travel. One was the fin box, a small, light box into which a fin could be screwed or unscrewed, should a surfer need.
This soon developed into an array of fin systems, with the most popular being Fin Control Systems and Future Fins. When choosing fins, make sure you know which system your board has first.
Longboards generally have one large single-fin. These boards are designed for cruising and not really for high-performance surfing. Generally, shortboards have three of four-fins, and hybrid or funboards often come with two fins.
Fins can be made of plastic, or they can be made with foam and fibreglass. The plastic fins bend easily, with the fibreglass fins are more rigid and tend to give surfboards more drive.
While the fins themselves are relatively rugged, care must be taken when screwing fins onto or off a surfboard. A few extra turns can quickly strip a fin screw, meaning a replacement screw or replacement box. Be gentle when working with fins, and they’ll last forever.
Some surfers get pretty involved with surf wax, but it is quite simple – the colder the water is, the softer the wax needs to be.
In tropical water, the wax gets so soft and pliable that the wax formation needs to be as hard as possible. That way, it will still retain some sort of stickiness no matter how warm the water is.
Similarly, when the water is frigid, the wax needs to have a softer composition. It remains slightly tacky and soft underfoot and doesn’t just get harder and more rigid with the cold water.
There are many types of surf wax, and the most popular ones are Mr. Zog’s Original Sex Wax. Other well-known brands are FU Wax, Mr. Zog’s Quick Humps, Sticky Bumps, Matuna’s Surf Wax, and Mrs. Palmers, to name a few.
To get going, you need to work out the water temperature where you will be surfing. Once you have done that, the choice of wax is simple. Tropical, cool, or cold wax, depending on where you are.
A quick rub of wax before each session is recommendable. It’s also a good idea to scrape off and replace your wax every couple of months.
Surfboard Traction Pad
Going hand-in-hand with surfboard wax is your surfboard traction pad – a soft, durable pad that is glued onto your deck instead of wax.
Most surfers use a combination of a traction pad for the back foot and wax for the front foot.
Surfboard traction pads are made from EVA or ethylene-vinyl acetate with is a highly elastic material that is tough and does not degrade with UV radiation. The modern surfboard traction pads are used by all surfers but are helpful for surfers pushing the limits and going for huge aerial moves. The pads offer a different kick and arches and come in a variety of colors and textures.
Some surfboard traction pads are made up of one unit, while others come in various sections that can be laid out over your board in the area that you will need it. The kicktail at the back is designed to give a surfer more leverage while performing radical moves. The arch bar ensures a comfortable feel for bare feet.
Once you have a traction pad on, then water temperature makes no difference as the pads do not change if the water is warm or cold.
Surfboard traction pads come with self-adhesive glue, and once the pad has been applied, that board shouldn’t be surfed for at least a day. Put the pad on in the evening, and you’ll be good to go for the dawn patrol the following day.
The surfboard leash is one of the most controversial but essential surfing inventions of all time. It was initially called a ‘kook cord’, but this soon changed when people realized how much it helped people surfing.
Leashes consist of three main components, the ankle cuff, the leash, and the rail saver.
The leash is made from urethane and is classified according to the thickness of the cord. In general terms, the thicker cords are used for bigger waves, and the thinner cords are used for small waves and for competition.
Before deciding on a new surfboard leash, you should consider these variables:
- the length of the leash,
- the thickness of the urethane element,
- the quality of the swivel between the leash and the ankle cuff
- the safety elements of the ankle cuff.
The best surf leashes are made of polyurethane. If you’ve got a 6-foot surfboard, grab a 6-foot surf leash. If you own a 9-foot longboard, then choose a 9-foot cord. It’s a basic rule that is easy enough to understand.
Regarding the thickness of the leash, it’s always important to check the wave conditions, you are about to surf. In the small surf, thinner surf leashes are acceptable, but if you’re riding powerful waves, then paddling out with a thick solid leash is compulsory.
The humble surfboard leash could quite easily be the most essential accessory of your whole surfing life, so choose wisely.