Cornwall Water Sports

Which surfboard is right for you?

Which surfboard is right for you?

September 13, 2023

‘Which surfboard should I buy?’ is a question asked by many, and we’ll start by saying that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. However, there are some general pointers to bear in mind. Depending on the typical surf conditions at your local breaks, your ability, and what it is you’re hoping to achieve when out on the waves, there is a multitude of board styles and sizes that could be right for you. 

Boards for beginners

At MAD Watersports, we have surfboards for all abilities, whether you’re a complete novice looking to buy your very first steed, or an experienced wave hunter in need of something to take your surfing game to new depths. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want something big and buoyant. This may sound like an oversimplification, but it’s true; to help ensure an easy take off and a steady platform on which to get yourself used to popping up, big boards with plenty of volume will tick all the boxes for beginners. And just because you’re shopping at the beginner’s end, it doesn’t mean you can’t have something with personality!

Check out our full beginner’s range here. The beauty of these beginner’s boards is that even when you outgrow them and start needing something more advanced to take your surfing to the next level, you can still keep them handy for those smaller-surf days. Even the best surfers among us still keep their trusty foamy in the quiver, ready for those light summer breakers!

Two surfers standing on the edge of the incoming tide.

Your first ‘proper’ board

Any surfer will tell you that when you start surfing, there inevitably comes a time to buy your first ‘proper’ board. This, typically, includes a move away from the forgiveness of foam and towards the responsive rigidity of fibreglass. There are many reasons for this – it’s not simply because ‘it looks the part’. Fibreglass boards and other, similarly rigid materials offer more precision, control and speed, depending on the size and shape. But with so much choice, knowing where to start can be tricky. What’s more, choosing the wrong ‘proper’ board can be detrimental to your surfing, sucking out the enjoyment and leading to frustration. If you are a beginner starting to outgrow your faithful foamy, you’ll want something that’s been designed for enjoyment by the very best.

Firewire Surfboards are one of the leading names in surfboard design, making any of its boards a trusted steed for surfers seeking reliability and durability. But when they collaborated with American pro surfer, Rob Machado, they were able to produce a design that’s perfectly suited for the waves that most surfers ride – not just the pros! The Firewire Machado Seaside and Beyond design, available in three sizes, is all about volume, and with that, you can relax, draw out your turns and flow. “It’s become a board that I will take with me everywhere I go,” said Rob when asked about it. “It glides, it turns on a dime, and most importantly it puts a smile on my face.”

Firewire Machado Seaside and Beyond


Finding your specialty

While many surfers flit between different sized boards and surfing styles, it’s fair to say that just as many end up finding, and favouring, their niche. Some are more at home charging down the faces of steep winter peaks; others prefer a smooth, leisurely ride on the glassy wedges of summer. Some will opt for a shorter board even in smaller surf, relying on boards with specially designed shapes and extra volume, while others will continue to attack even the largest of winter swells with longboards that are surprisingly nimble.

Longer boards are incredibly versatile, allowing surfers to capitalise on waves of all sizes. One of our favourites in this class is the Harley Ingleby HIHP 9ft1 Thunderbolt Red. This is the performance board used by Harley Ingleby when he won his second ASP World Championship in 2014, and an upgraded version of that which he used to secure the same crown five years before. Designed to help you make powerful turns regardless of the conditions, the HIHP favours the more aggressive surfer seeking something to tackle an array of surf conditions. It’ll allow you to feel quick and nimble even when the waves are more mellow, whilst remaining more than up to task when the swell picks up!

Firewire Too Fish Futures


For something slightly shorter but equally as reliable in a multitude of conditions, we recommend the Firewire Too Fish Futures. Also designed in collab with Rob Machado, the Too Fish, available in 5ft6 and 5ft8, is extremely fast in steep surf, and trustworthy in a variety of conditions. “It’s my favourite in small and weak waves because of how thick and floaty it is in the forward two thirds of the board,” explained Rob. However, he adds: “I’ve ridden the Too Fish in everything from overhead waves on the North Shore to perfect days on the reef at home, and also the weakest most disorganised junk surf at the beach break from the front of my house. It’s my favourite board for all conditions.”

Similarly versatile and available from 5ft 6 - 6ft 2, is the Firewire Sci-Fi 2.0. An update to one of the most popular designs in surfing, the 2.0 features a wide point forward of centre, which allows it to be ridden 1 foot shorter than its predecessor with more volume packed into a shorter length. Whilst this design certainly favours steeper conditions, it also manages to maintain good small wave prowess.


Finally, if you’re looking for an all-round, high-performance classic shortboard, let us introduce you to Alone Thunder. Available in five sizes, from 5ft10 to 6ft2, the Thunder is designed for maximum versatility and manoeuvrability, giving the high-performance surfer the platform they need in the most demanding conditions to absolutely make the most of their session.

Find your board at MAD Water Sports

If you're still unsure which surfboard is right for you, you will find plenty of options on our online store. Alternatively, if you’re unsure what you need, or are struggling to make your mind up between the varying styles on offer, why not pop in store and have a chat with one of our team? If you do, be sure to bring your wetsuit; we have loads of boards finned up and ready for you to try out before you buy, and since our store is only a short drive from surfing spots like Polzeath and Mawgan Porth, you’re sure to find a wave or two to try out your trusty new steed!