Words : Devin Kuh
The Perfect Size for the Best Ride
Every rider has that moment in their progression when they move on from using a buddy’s old twin tip, that beat down board that they got for a deal on Craigslist or renting equipment. Many start riding without much thought to the size of board, rather focusing on the style and price. Finding the right size for you is an important step to getting the most out of your investment in a new board. When choosing your board size, there isn’t a magic formula, but focusing on your type of riding, and your size will allow you to make the best decision.
Type of Riding
Whether you are frothing to freestyle or happily cruising, each unique style can your decision making process. For the aspiring freestyle rider, the size of your board will affect you in two main ways, speed of rotation and stability of your landing. For the rider looking to go fast and cruise, the length of your board’s waterline will affect your upwind capabilities and comfort in varied wind/water conditions. For example, the freestyle machine from Liquid Force, The Element, has a largest size of 139cm; whereas the cruising specific Moon Patrol, comes as a 148cm.
For the cruiser, the size of board increases the rider’s upwind capabilities and max speed by creating a longer water line and more stability in choppy conditions This also translates into an ability to ride in lighter wind conditions. The flip side of this increased size is a decrease in maneuverability. The larger board will be less responsive, and take more effort to control your angle and edge.
Riding freestyle, the overall size of your board (length times width) of your board has a direct trade off between speed of rotation and stability of your landing. As a rule of thumb, the smaller (and lighter) a board, the faster you will spin, but the decrease in size will minimize the room for error while landing. The larger board softens the impact of landing by distributing it over a larger area, and increasing the sweet spot for that perfect landing.
Rocker is an important characteristic to consider when looking at board length. Rocker is the tendency for the tail/tip of the board to rise up from the water. A board with more rocker will have a shorter effective water line. You can compare the Liquid Force Drive, with minimal rocker, to the more freestyle focused Echo, with a large rocker. This decrease in water line will make the board feel and ride like a shorter board, leading to a decrease in upwind capabilities and comfort in choppy conditions. The flip side is an increased pop when riding freestyle in flat water.
Height and Weight
Naturally, the rider’s height and weight will also factor into choosing the correct size of board. A heavier rider will want a larger board than a smaller one, because the increased board size will give the rider more floatation. This added floatation will decrease the power needed to ride, and increase the rider’s efficiency on the water.
It is important to have a comfortable stance on your board, and not feel too spread out or like your feet are too close together. Most boards come with adjustable boot/strap placement, which accommodates variations within one board size.
Making a Decision
Start by looking at what your priorities in riding are. This will help you choose your style of board. Once you know what you want, think of the range of sizes offered as, small, medium and large and place yourself appropriately. From there feel free to go up or down a size depending on the characteristics described above. At the end of the day, the best way to get the feel for different size boards is trying them out in similar conditions!