If you are looking for a board that can deliver high performance surf better than any other, then a shortboard surfboard is the one to look at.
They are hailed for their performance in pro surfing because of their ability to make tight turns, bust tricks, and maneuver in a way no other type of board can. If you are someone that is just getting into surfing, these aren’t the boards for you.
Typically, we gear these boards to intermediate and advanced surfers who have been out in the water for a good time.
Because shortboards have been at the top for over 3 decades, there are tons of choices out there in terms of materials used, fin types, etc. It can be difficult to figure out the difference between a shortboard that will provide you with aggressive, vertical surf or a solid ride in less-than-perfect conditions.
Luckily, we have all the information you’ll need to know about shortboards, as well as some of our favorites on the market, in this coming article.
What Is A Shortboard Surfboard?
The 4 Best Soft Top Foam Shortboard Surfboards
Our #1 Pick - Wave Bandit Performer
There are many reasons to ride the Wave Bandit Performer. Maybe you need a friendlier shortboard that makes it easier to transition, or maybe you just want a cool foamie that you can get weird with at your local shore break.
The Performer certainly isn’t the board to take your first run with, but its softer and rounder outline and fishy shape are perfect for learning how to rip. Wave Bandit has always made boards that don’t seem to try and compete with anything else.
The Performer is a simple yet fun soft-top that can act as an excellent addition to your quiver. Give those thruster fins a nice pump and you’ll find yourself shredding down the line in no time.
#2 Runner Up - Catch Surf Odysea Skipper
Is this board really a shortboard? Catch Surf really infused a fishy shape into this board that definitely gives it a double identity.
That being said, it paddles much better than your typical shortboard and allows you to move down the line at high speeds while drawing out smooth turns, much like a fish.
In a similar fashion, its thrusters help you to pick up insane speed in the tubes and on steep waves. Even with all the amazing things we could say about this board, the fins can be a little floppy. We’d really recommend the Odysea shortboard for beginners over any other, as it acts as more of a fun provider than a performance provider and has excellent floatability.
#3 - Gold Coast Surfboards - "The Casper" Soft Top Short Surfboard
Not only does this board have a really nice natural look to it, but it also gives you the ability to output some high performance shredding. The swallowtail is unique in relativity to other shortboards, but allows you to pull off smoother turns when you’re riding and better stability when you’re paddling.
You’ll also be able to bring this board into a wide range of conditions because of it. Even better, the thruster nose adds the element of aggressive high performance surf so you can begin to obtain that real shortboard feel.
The fingerprint texture foam on this board is great for many reasons. It means no wax, easier entry to waves, and better durability. It does not come with fins, but does have FCSII Fin Boxes so you can add on any FCS-compatible fins you see fit. This board is for you if you are a beginner looking to transition to shortboards or if you are an experience surfer looking for a solid foamie.
#4 - Wavestorm 5’6" Original New Modern Shortboard
Wavestorm’s Original New Modern Shortboard is a bit of a no-brainer when you take a look at how well they have done in the market of soft-top boards. They’ve translated all of the qualities of the original Wavestorm board to one with a shortboard outline and size.
The high-impact bottom paired with the rigid build, make it great for surfers who are transitioning into more aggressive surfing…or surfers who just want to explore the beautiful world that is shortboarding. Catching a wave on this thing is very easy, as in Wavestorm fashion.
This board is a great choice for groms, as the swallowtail provides a bit more balance and maneuverability to the board as they learn how to carve. Not only is this board durable in aggressive surf, but the unique Wavestorm EBS-IXL barrier skin protects from UV ray damage, all the while providing better grip.
This is great for surfers looking for long-lasting boards. Hopefully that is every surfer.
Top 4 Best Hard Fiberglass Shortboard Surfboards
OUR #1 PICK - Disrupt Surfboards "Swirl Waves Design" - 5'8' to 6'2'
This board gives you the high-performance feel of a mid-sized shortboard with some nice design tweaks that give you the ability to ride on less-than-perfect days.
The Turbine is an excellent fiberglass board with a lower rocker, tight tail, and mid-rail, to help you catch waves much easier while performing tighter turns. Due to the length and overall outline of the board, it is best suited for intermediate and advanced riders.
Whether you want to keep with the thrusters and pump out on the waves, or stick on the five-fin set up for some extra control, Disrupt has made that possible. The board is perfect for small days, big days, and everything in-between.
#2 RUNNER UP - Simon Anderson "Spudster" Shortboard XF 6.0 FCSII
From the pipeline to the shorebreak, The Spudster from Simon Anderson can really do it all. While many shortboard purists might say it isn’t technically a high-performance shortboard because of its wide / full nose, low rocker, medium rails, and thick build, they should know that it is an excellent board if you want the shortboard feel, but the summer waves just aren’t doing it.
Whether you’re looking for a board that can provide nice carve, paddle easier than a shortboard, or cut sharply on the face of a wave, the Spudster can give you just what you need.
Tested and given the stamp of approval by its creator and famed surfer Simon Anderson, the Spudster (given the name because of its potato-like look) comes equipped with Vector Flex technology, an FCSII Fin System, and a very durable fiberglass-netting combination.
#3 - Haydenshapes Shortboard Surfboard
The Haydenshapes Shortboard White Noiz Shortboard is an excellent performance surfboard for smaller waves. With a bit more surface area in the nose and tail than you might see in other pro shortboards, this gives you more float while still providing speed and responsiveness.
The White Noiz still retains some similar features of a shortboard, such as the smooth continuous curve throughout the rocker. In trying to maintain the rail connection, the board was build with a slight double concave between the center and front fin. The board is best ridden in waves that are anywhere from 1’-4’ (aka your typical beach break) and is catered more towards intermediate and advanced surfers.
That being said, we do feel it also acts as a nice transitional board because of the well-balanced design. This is probably one of our favorite shortboard surfboards for sale on the list.
#4 - JK Surfboards "The Bullet" Poly Shortboard - 6' 2" to 6' 10"
Imagine your standard shortboard. Now imagine if that surfboard was much easier to ride and catch waves with.
Like, way easier. Just because it is easier to ride doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to rip or perform tight maneuvers, though the tail rocker and hyper extended rail rocker make it an excellent board for everyday conditions. You can get some great drive with this board, even when waves aren’t that perfect.
When a pointbreak gets some distance, you’ll really begin to fly down the line. With the futures tri fin set, eco-friendly resin, and lightweight design, this board is a nice, inexpensive alternative to the vast variety of high-end shortboards out on the market. It even ranges in sizes from 6’2”-6’10”, so surfers of all shapes and sizes can enjoy it.
Shortboard Surfboard Size Chart
So you have finally decided to get a shortboard. Your next question might be, “What length shortboard should I get?” While there are no hard and fast rules here, we do have a little chart that can maybe provide you some basic information to consider. Like we said, this isn’t gospel, only a reference or suggestion.
Surfer Weight (Lbs)
Shortboard VS Fish
If shortboards were closest in comparison to any other board out there, it would probably be the fish. They both hover around the same sizes, they both come complete with sharper noses (though the fish nose is a bit rounder), and they both offer maneuverability (though the fish is not AS maneuverable as the shortboard). Fish boards got their name because, well, they look like fishes. That is the best and most obvious way to distinguish the two.
Fish surfboards will give you much better speed in smaller waves than a shortboard. By small waves, we mean the mush and chop that runs up onto the sand during summer. Because shortboards require that pump, they can be difficult to ride in these kinds of conditions.
Fish surfboards also have plenty more volume when compared to shortboards. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. To start, fish boards are much more buoyant because of the extra volume. This means that they are easier to paddle and will cruise better than a shortboard without any added effort. The flat rocker helps with this as well. On the negative side, the buoyancy takes away from the maneuverability and the flat rockers can’t handle the steeper waves like the deep rockers on shortboards.
To choose the best one for you, you must consider a few things. If you are at a lower skill level, we would definitely recommend picking up a fish, especially if you are trying to transition down to smaller boards. How is your local break? If the waves are constantly small, a fish might do you much better. If you have nice, steep and hollow waves at your beach, than the shortboard is the way to go. Are you looking for something that is truly high-performance? A fish is great for cruisers and laid-back riders who just want to get out in smaller surf. If you really want to have a board that can take you to the top, there is no question that you need a shortboard.
Shortboard Surfing Tips
Transitioning down from a longboard to a shortboard is not an easy task. Many surfers think that they’ll be able to just hop on and ride, though that is definitely not the case. Surfing shortboards requires a different set of focus points, skill, and technique. We’re going to give you some solid tips to get you started on your shortboard journey.
As you decrease your board’s thickness, length, and width, paddling will become a lot more difficult. Longboards are easier to paddle because the thickness helps to pull you along the waves. With shortboards, you really have to put your weight in the center of the board and use your upper to body more to pull yourself out. You have to be wary of your feet as well. All too often we see shortboarders out in the water with their feet dragging in the water. This will slow you down immensely. Try and hold your feet slightly out of the water. It will do wonders for speed
Here are a few shortboard pop up tips:
The biggest difference between popping up on a longboard and popping up on a shortboard is the amount of speed you need to truly make the drop. With less surface area, you’ll need to rely more on your own balance to than the board’s balance to get up there. Wait for a solid wave to come you way and begin paddling with deep and wide strokes. When you feel the energy of the wave under you, press up quickly and evenly with both arms. Make sure that your back foot has more weight on it so that you don’t pearl and that your stance is wide so you have better control over the entire board.
Like we mentioned, you want to make sure that you have control over the entire board, so keep that wide stance. Each foot should be just under a shoulder. The main difference with a shortboard and other boards is that you’ll need to pump it to pick up speed. The best way to describe this is as if you were doing quick squats over and over again while on the face of the wave. The more you watch other surfers in the lineup, the more you’ll understand the mechanics of the pump.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Start Surfing With A Shortboard?
Trying to learn how to surf on a shortboard is a huge mistake that we see a ton of beginners make. Yes, foam tops and longboards might be a little kooky or “embarrassing” depending on how closely you hold your ego, though what will be more embarrassing is the number of wipeouts you’ll have because you clearly have never surfed before and shortboards are not forgiving. You need balance, stability, buoyancy, and length when learning to ride, all the things that a shortboard does not provide.
What is the difference between a Longboard, Shortboard, and a Funboard?
For starters, longboards and shortboards are just about polar opposites They typically run anywhere from 8’12’, have square or round tails, and wider, rounded noses. Much different than shortboards, they are great for beginners because they are large and stable. Longboards are much better for smaller days as well since they cruise much better. Unfortunately, they are nowhere near as maneuverable, are near impossible to duck dive, and are not made for tricks.
As for funboards, they typically run a bit larger at around 6’-8’. They have a bit more width and roundness than shortboards and are much easier to ride. It is more difficult to pin a funboard down because they run so versatile, but when compared to a shortboard, they are not as high performance. This is mostly due to the size.
What other surf gear do I need to start surfing?
Buying all of your surfing necessities in the same day can be very expensive, so we don’t recommend going crazy, especially if you’re just starting. That being said, here is a small list of gear you should get to make your surfing experience the best it can be.
Wetsuit: There are thousands of different wetsuits out on the market. The main job of a wetsuit is to give you protection from the elements. You don’t need anything fancy. Look at your climate and find one to match your needs. Look at size, thickness, season, etc. and don’t let any of the crazy marketing schemes fool you.
Board Leash: For beginners, get a leash that is a foot longer than your surfboard. It is a must have to keep your board from floating off into the abyss when you inevitably wipe out.
Ear Plugs: If you find yourself surfing in cold climates and don’t want to develop the dreaded “Surfer’s Ear”, do yourself a favor and get a solid pair of earplugs
Surfboard Bag: If you imagine yourself travelling up and down the coast with your surfboard to begin living the nomadic beach bum life, the last thing you want is to ding up your board while en route to your next spot. The best way to protect your board from this is picking up a surfboard bag. Again, scour the Internet and find a good deal. As a beginner you don’t need anything fancy.
Best type of shortboard for surfing small waves?
A shortboard should not be your first choice for small waves, though if you must get one for the purpose, look for a board that is wider, thicker, and has less of a rocker. Check for hybrid boards that meld characteristics of shortboards with fish boards. This will best your best bet when the waves are mushy.
Should I get a foamie or a fiberglass board?
If you’re a beginner to intermediate surfer and MUST get a shortboard, there is no question that your should get a foamie. They are safer, easier to ride, cheaper, and won’t ding as easily. If you really want to shred and more experienced, you probably already have a fiberglass board and don’t need an answer from us.