How to Buy a Used Surfboard – a Mini Surfboard Buying Guide

While looking for a surfboard, consider all three dimensions: length, width and thickness.  While most people focus on length, you should be equally, if not more, concerned with the width and thickness.  Generally, beginner surfers will do better with thicker boards because of the added buoyancy (to help you float and catch waves), and wider boards for stability (so it’s easier to get up and stay standing).

The typical epoxy longboard that you’ll use here is 9’2″ X 22 7/8″ X 3 1/4″.  This board is large enough that it floats, paddles well, and catches waves (very important), but is not so large that it is not maneuverable.

The more time and effort you have to put into going daily/ 3-4 times a week, the smaller the board you can get.  You may even want to downsize if you feel comfortable.  Lengthwise, you should stick with something between 9′ and 10′ long.  Anything longer and it’s tough to carry, anything shorter and you will struggle your first 20 hours (consecutive days) of water time.

More important than length is having a wide and thick board.  You want it to be close to 23″ wide and 3″ thick.

It probably does not matter if it has one or three fins, just make sure it comes with fins.

Now some of the things you should ask before you go to visit the board (besides for the dimensions) is:
1. Has the board been broken?

2. Does the board have any buckles (a place the board has been stressed severely and will break–looks like a crack or buckle usually accompanied by a break in the stringer and delamination around that break) or significant stress fractures (hairline cracks running perpendicular to the stringer on the top and/or bottom)?

3.  Is there any delamination (fiberglass separated from the foam, usually on the deck)?

4. Are there a significant amount of dings (over four)?

If they answer “yes” to any of these questions then don’t bother to look, unless there were minimal stress fractures or dings that were professionally repaired.

When you visit the board, you will be looking for all of these things. Do not buy a painted or very “stickered” board because generally boards are painted or plastered with stickers to hide things.  Make sure the whole board is air tight, especially check the tail and nose for cracks and holes.  The last step will be to remove all wax (you may want to bring a wax comb with you to strip it), especially around the stringer.  You will need to inspect the stringer for any irregularities or delamination which will look like air inside and will press down easily.  Check the whole deck for delamination by pressing down on the deck to feel for separation.  Check each rail for dings as well.  Also check the leash plug and fin system for dings.  You should be able to run your fingernail smoothly over any part or apparent “crack” in the fiberglass or resin without your nail catching on anything.  If your nail catches on a ridge of a crack, it’s likely that water is seeping in there somehow.  Also look for discoloration (yellowing or browning) around shattered or cracked areas on the board.  If you see yellow, it’s likely they’ve been riding the board with dings in it for some time.  Some dings are more difficult to repair than others, so check everywhere to make sure you see everything and can report back to us.  Ask if fins (how many) come with the board.  Fins can be expensive so that matters for pricing.

There are two types of resin used to make surfboards: polyester and epoxy.  The standard has been polyester for years and continues to be.  You may come across an epoxy board.  They are generally more ding resistant and lighter in weight, but are floatier (more buoyant), ride differently, and require special resin to fix.  They are also usually 10-25% more expensive.  We use epoxy boards here (the 10’2″, 9’2″, and 8’6″ boards) for the resin’s durability.

That’s it for now for used board shopping 101.  It might help to take someone experienced with you when you go board shopping.  For $500, you should get something that is in great condition–only a couple well repaired dings, but you may find a great board for $100 too…  good luck!

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1-2′ small beautiful summer day

1-2′ small beautiful summer day.  Sunny skies and light side-onshore winds.

Get out there if you want some sun and tiny surf… practice your longboard skills and cross stepping.

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Small waves, glassy conditions

1-3′ super glassy and small.  Slightly overcast but the sun’s coming out.

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Surf Sunblocks Part 1: Don’t Be Fooled by SPF

Sun Protection Factor ratings are tricky, seemingly purposefully so, and the numbers are misleading. SPF numbers represent UVB ray blocking power in the amount of rays that it would take to create the same effect if no sunscreen was used. In other words, SPF 30 means that you would have to have 30 times as much UVB radiation to create the same exposure level. As the numbers get higher the ability of the sunblock to stop the rays is only slightly more and measurements begin to lose accuracy. For instance, SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays and SPF 100 may block 99% of UVB rays. In the EU the highest SPF is 30+, in Australia SPF 50+ is the highest and the FDA is considering banning labeling that over SPF 50. As it turns out, other sunblock issues are more important to sun protection than any SPF numbers over 50.

When SPF is tested, the official application amount is 2 mg per square cm of the skin surface or approximately one ounce (or shot glass) of sunblock for a medium size body (with one heaping teaspoon for the face). What? That seems like you would use an entire bottle of sunscreen in one day with a family of four. Most people apply 20% to 50% of his amount, significantly decreasing their SPF by about a fourth root or square root. If you apply half a shot glass of SPF 50 sunscreen to your entire body, the real value you are getting from the sunscreen is about SPF 7.

Another issue is that nearly all sunblocks start degrading in one hour and after two hours they are gone. SPF is only tested up to 80 minutes. Some of the newer sunblocks claim to last longer, but there is no evidence supporting these claims. Sunblock should be applied three to four times during a day in the sun. A sunscreen container of three or four ounces, about the size accepted by airport security, is barely enough sunscreen for one day on a Costa Rican beach. Make sure to bring at least 25 fluid ounces to your next surf vacation week in Hawaii!

References:

Dermatologist Offers Tips For Skin, Sun Safety

Sunburn Protection Factor (SPF)

What’s wrong with high SPF?

Sunscreens Exposed: 9 surprising truths

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Small and clean surf

2-4′ clean but smaller again.  Sunny skies with light side shore winds. The swell has faded away, but it’s been a great February so far!

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Pavones Surf Report Feb 4, 2011

3-6′ fading swell with some fun ones to be had when the set comes in.  Sunny skies with light winds.

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Surf’s Up in Pavones

6-8′ and good shape. Sideshore winds building through the day. Super sunny.

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Happy Birthday to Me!

2-4′+ Clean early with sunny skies and no winds.  A little fast.
Hoping my birthday swell fills in!
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Pavones, Costa Rica Surf Report

1-2′ great conditions with pinner surf.  Sunny skies and light cross shore winds.


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How it All Began – The Surf Trip that turned into our Surf Camp

In January of 2003, Ingrid and I quit our jobs, sold our cars and all our stuff, flew to California, bought a truck and a callen camper, tricked out the camper shell with new walls, a bed, cabinets, fans, lights, a fridge, and drove south on our Central American surf trip. We basically turned down every road that went to the coast, had a look around, and stayed and surfed if we liked it, and moved on if we didn’t.

We created a diary of our exploits and adventures covering a year and a half road-surf trip through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. We finally ended up in Pavones, where we set up and still run Venus Surf Adventures, a surf camp in Costa Rica far from the trappings of modern life (well, most of them anyway), in a bucolic, remote, jungle beach town.

We love it here, and this blog is the story of how we got here.

A perfect wave in Pavones

Yes, Pavones is a perfect wave

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