Surf Tips

How To Test Drive A Surfboard – That Tricky First Surf

Machado prudently test drives his CI on friendly, forehand runners. So should you. Photo: DJ Struntz

So you’re at the water’s edge, about to test drive your new surfboard. But let’s rewind a moment…

You coveted that new surfboard for months. Dreamed up the perfect ride. You ‘designed’ your craft, either in your head, on a screen, or in the shape room using hand gestures and grunting noises. Then you waited. Visited the factory, bribed them with beer, waited some more.

Or perhaps you just went and bought off the rack, hell even from an online surf shop!

She spent the first night in a corner of the lounge. Perhaps the second too. But you knew, at some point, you would have to face the decision of when, and where to take that new surfboard for a spin. Because with all that preparation and planning, the last thing you want is a bad test drive. First impressions count!


Don’t take it out on that shitty, sloppy wind chop day. Try to wait for clean(ish), head high surf, maybe on your forehand, with a bit of open face.

Long waves that give you more riding time obviously tell you more than rapid up-and-down closeout beachies.


Your rubber attire is worth considering. If it’s spring and you’ll soon be switching to lighter summer rubber, maybe wait for that day to try out your new surfboard.

Likewise, if you’re in boots but will be ditching them soon, maybe wait for that day before your test drive. The less you have on, the more your test drive will reveal about your surfboard.


Make life easy on yourself; Take off early and get up and high lining to give yourself all the options. Taking off late or constantly battling to get around a section won’t tell you as much about your surfboard as when you have time and options.


Find speed sections first, look for lines to get a feel for the surfboard. You don’t need to take on every lip and every section that dares present itself. Give yourself a fighting chance by getting a feel of how the surfboard likes to take speed. Once you have that, you’ll find the options are much more open.

So maybe don’t go for that fin chuck first turn, first wave. Let yourself get long rides, building familiarity along the wave. What she’s like off the bottom, what she’s like off the top. Your first thoughts in these departments will all be relative to the last surfboard you surfed or the board you’ve been riding most. Thus they’ll be relative rather than absolute.


In terms of the love match of you and your new surfboard, roundhouse cutbacks are a great gettin-to-know-her-ers. You’ll learn more about a surfboard feeling the transition from the inside rail off the bottom followed by a smooth continuous arc on your heelside rail, than by doing relentless sudden snaps. Remember: Excessive under the lip wallet drops are what you do on surfboards that don’t really go.

Surfboards that do go, do beautiful, buttery, exhilarating figure 8 whizzfucks.

Yep, whizzfucks.

Photo: DJ Struntz


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