There are many aspects involved in surfboard selection and here is a brief explanation of the points you need to consider when ordering a board
Typically surfboards are measured in inches. The length is measured from the nose to the tail. Choosing the length of the surfboard is dependant on your size (weight, height), board type and waves conditions you wish to use the board for.
The widest point of the surfboard is measured from rail to rail. Generally the wider the surfboard the more stable the board, while a board with smaller width maintains better speed and performance.
Surfboard thickness is measured from the top deck to the bottom. The thickness again has a bearing on the board's performance. Professional surfers will tend to go for the thinner boards as they are lighter and offer better performance. The thicker boards are stronger and because there is more foam under the surfer the boards are more stable.
The bottom curve of a surfboard. Generally the more rocker the surfboard has the more loose (manoeuvrable) the surfboard will be. Where the flatter rocker surfboards will be faster, although they will lack the looseness. Nose The tip of the surfboard, the nose can vary in shapes and size. Basically the thinner the nose the more response the board will perform, while wider noses are better for stabilization.
Used to increase the strength of a surfboard, a stringer (normally made from wood) runs down the length of a surfboards (typically in the centre of the board from the tip of the nose to the tail). Boards built with Epoxy, Carbon Fibre and soft boards generally don't have stringers.
Generally heavier surfers require larger fins to hold the waves better. Although if you prefer to ride a looser (less hold in the waves), smaller fins would be a better option.
Fin configurations have an effect on the ways your surfboards perform. The following are some of the more common fin configurations.
The single fin was the original fin configuration for surfboards. Based on the idea of the sailboat keel. Single fins are added stabilization and control on the powerful, larger waves, although lack manoeuvrability.
Are great for small waves, being fast and manoeuvrable, but when put into tight spots on larger waves, they become hard to control. Popular with Fish surfboards.
Thruster / 3i-Fin
Widely recognized as the standard fin configuration, the thruster answers the shortcomings of the single fin and the twin fins configurations. The thrusters give you stabilization, control and manoeuvrability in all types of surfing conditions. This concept was the brainchild of Australia's Simon Anderson.
With four fins in the water, Quads boasts an extraordinary amount of holding power in larger surf. You may think that having four fins would sacrifice speed by creating more drag, but this is not the case. The both sets of fins are working together on the rail, which makers believe they creates less drag than a board with a centre fin. The manoeuvrability isn't sacrificed either, with fins directly under your back foot, the quads are very responsive.
Similar setup to the Twin Fin, although smaller (low profile) fins are generally placed wider (closer to the rails) on the surfboard. Popular with Fish and Egg / Retro surfboards.
The outside edge of a surfboard. The rails are critical to the performance of a surfboard. As the surfer rides along the face of the wave, its the sinking and un-sinking motion of the rails used to gain speed.
The thinner the rails with less foam are easier to sink which means that the board will turn sharper and quicker. The larger fuller rails hold more foam, this adds flotation.
For the big waves
The end of the surfboard where the water exits form the board. The different tail types affect the stability and performance of a surfboard. Following are the most common tail types:
Round Pin Tail
The curved tail with a pinch at the end permits the surfboard to hold well in the pocket of the wave and smooth rail to rail. The Rounded Pin tail can bog down through flat sections, therefore is great for powerful, medium to larger surf.
The tail is shaped into a point. Pin tails have the minimum amount of area in the water, designed to hold the waves well at higher speeds. Excellent for large waves where speed needs to be controlled, not generated. Popular with Gun surfboards.
Great for shortboards and small waves. The square tail contains the greatest area of any tail design. The rails meet the tail at sharp corners allowing the surfer to carve the most sharpest, pivotal turns with great responsiveness.
One of the most common tail designs with shortboards. The Squash tail is similar to the Square tail but with rounded edges. The tail provides excellent performance while maintaining speed and drive.
Easy to identify with the reversed 'v' chopped from the tail. The gap allows water to flow freely between the two pins (pivots) which provides more drives in the weaker waves.