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Help choosing the right board!

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  • Help choosing the right board!

    Hi all,

    I am looking for a new board, but i am completely lost!

    I am a 30 years old guy, 5'5'' with more or less 145 lbs and average fitness and although I surf for more than 10 years I never progressed. I spent most of the time with the wrong type of board, 6´0 or smaller with no volume. So I consider myself to be a beginner/intermediate. I try to surf everywhere, beach break, reef, but no higher than 4 feet.

    What board do you think would be a good option? I really like the dominator since everyone says that is a forgiving board maybe a 6'2 or a 6'4. Do you think a chumblee would be a better fit?

    All your advice will be a huge help for me.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by pedropt; 06-19-2017, 02:46 PM.

  • #2
    Hey Pedropt,
    First, if you do surf for 10 years, you'll not be a total beginner. I did loose some years as holiday surfers on too small boards, too, in the first 10 years, but you'll have some wave, paddling and catching knowledge.
    I did have very occasional good surfs from beginning, but rare. Later I did progress through bigger boards, but going down quickly in length and volume again.
    Good boards to learn manouvers are: oversized mid rocketed short boards (like a dominator or unibrow), fish boards with some performance (like a RNF or crossing over to a potatonator) and pintail/wide nose crossovers. All give you more waves, but allow for some turns and control. I learned to surf steeper waves on a 7'6 semi-gun, and catching small waves on my fish.
    As to volume: at 145 pounds/65 kg you'll need 30-33 L max. Beyond that you'll have a minimal and it won't turn like a shortboard (if that's what you're after). That's a 5'8-5'11 Dominator. A 6'4 is a boat for me (88 kg) and more so for you. If you want a longer board look for a unibrow at that volume. A chumlee may work, but it has quite thinned out rails and will be less good for an intermediate in steeper waves. After 1 year on a say 32 L dominator you'll be loooking at boards After 1 year on a say 32 L dominator you'll be loooking at boards
    Last edited by apache; 06-19-2017, 02:58 PM. Reason: Post partly eaten


    • #3
      Hi Apache,

      Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge with me, I really appreciate.
      It is quite difficult for me to choose something that I can´t try, shops in Portugal don´t let you try before buying (or ask for 60$ and 500$ deposit) and it is quite difficult to get advise on this matter since it depends on so many factors and on your surf and board experience, that in my case is (something that help me caching more waves and is not to big to duck dive).
      I guess because i spent so many years with the wrong type of board, now I am a little too cautious, also because of the investment changing board means.
      In your opinion a Dominator 5'11 could be a good option?


      • #4
        No worries. I am not a very advanced surfer but I know what a long way to better surfing means being a late starter / holiday warrior. What surfboards do/did you surf and what waves do you surf in Portugal ? What is 4ft in your personal scale (OZ scale 4ft = 1,5 OH...;))?

        To give you a perspective: I weight 86-88 kg and did start with boards around probably 40 L, went up in the higher 40s with semi-gun, fish and minimal, then went back to 39ish L and now down to 33-35L.
        My guilt factor was thus 0,50 max, dropping to 0,38. Mind you I am a good paddler so I'll probably get away with 1-2 L less foam.

        So if you are in that intermediate stage you'd be good at max 0,50 guilt factor (weight to volume kg/L). Beyond that it's too much foam and you won't be able to turn in, drop into better waves or duck dive properly. For higher intermediates a 0,40+ guilt factor is better, that would be around 26-28 L for your weight. That's a 5'6 Dom! If you're used to surf boards around that volume you don't need to go up to 30+ L. So your choice for a dominator size depends on where you scale yourself. Keep in mind: too little foam makes you catch less waves. But too much foam wears you out duck diving, makes you miss good waves and more critical manoeuvres. There is no right or wrong, but better or worse compromise. I think 5'7-5'9 is plenty for you, and with some surfing background you'll rather be lower than higher. I do surf a 6'0 spitfire at 34,x L and I might go up 1 size max, so 5'11 is too much imho.

        Maybe you can test drive say a 5'8? If it's good you buy it, if it's too big or small go next size up/down - and the shop lets you do that for free or a small premium given you'll be buying a board ?


        • #5
          Not sure if this helps but I've owned quite a few firewire boards in the last 10 years and I've sort of narrowed down my favorites and what Volume for each model works for me. I live in Southern California and surf mostly beach breaks in the summer months when the primary swell direction is from SW. In the winter I surf mostly point and reefs, spots that can handle more size but aren't completely impossible to get out. I'm 5'8" and currently weigh 180lbs. I've been surfing since 1978 but have improved quite a bit in the last 10 years and consider myself intermediate to advanced. My current quiver includes a 5' 10" Unibrow (30.2L) FST, a 5'9" Dominator (32.6L) FST, a 5'6" Sweet Potato (38.6L) FST, and a 5'6" Potatonator (30.3L) FST. The Unibrow is sort of my dream board and incredibly light and highly maneuverable. It floats me well even though I'm a bit of a fatty. Paddles nicely but the real magic starts when you stand up. It's very snappy even when stalled I can still throw the board up into the wave to generate speed. Likes punchier waves and is probably best on beach breaks although it works well on reefs and points as well. I bought the dominator recently (used) recently because the price was right and it seemed like I was little too heavy for the Unibrow. I had a 5'10" Dominator previously that worked really well for me 33.5L. It worked better on days when the waves had size but were a bit mushy. I surfed both the Unibrow and the Dominator as thrusters. The 5'9" Dominator is probably a little undersized for me at my current weight, especially on bigger days when I need to get into the wave sooner. It would most likely be perfect at 170lbs and without a wetsuit or maybe a spring. I bought the 5'6" Potatonator after having a good run with the 5'8" (33.8L) which was my go to board before I got the Unibrow. I surfed the Potatonator on big slopey point breaks as well as fast punch beach breaks. It worked well in both. I surfed it with tri-fin set up as well as quad but worked best with the Controller Quads. Very pivoty board which allows you to set up quickly on fast beach breaks and is a cutback machine on bigger slopey waves. The 5'6" potatonator is definitely too small for me and feels corky but I think the Dan Mann boards have a lot of volume in the chest area which suits my body type. Then there's the Sweet Potato. At 38 liters (5'6") it's quite the hog and I actually preferred my old 5'4". It is nice to have a board like this as a groveler that works in absolute shit and can be taken on out on big winter points where longboarders are all fighting for the peak and you can clean up all the scraps. It's not awe inspiring on the bottom turns due to the quad only setup and fin placement but it draws really nice turns and is snappy as well on inside hollow sections. I also have owned Tomo boards that didn't really work for me. Most recently I purchased a 5'9" Go Fish and was disappointed with it. The Dan Mann shapes really seem to work well for me especially at the San Diego breaks. So....I know this is an incredibly long post but...I'm in the process of narrowing down my quiver to just 2 boards. I'm going to hold onto the Unibrow as long as I can. And if I can find a 5'11, I may use that as a step up. But...for my groveler I'm planning on buying a 5'9" Chumlee. I thought about getting the 5'7" but I think the extra volume will help on gutless days. Just keep in mind not all board volumes are created equal. Good luck.