Buying Your First Surfboard in New York--Part I

The season is upon us! The weather is warming up, the water is warming up, and the collective unconscious drives us into the sea. This is often the time of year when people start to consider buying their first surfboard. If you’re on the fence, I recommend that you take a leap and join the ranks. There are many factors to consider in making that purchase, especially for New Yorkers, who often have particular storage and transportation concerns.


Buying a surfboard is not unlike buying a car. You have to shell out a bit at the beginning (it’s probably going to be hard to find something in the NYC area for less than $400), but if you don’t like it or grow out of it you can always sell it. The good news is that unlike cars, surfboards don’t depreciate much. Also, surfboards, especially long and mid-length surfboards, will pretty much last a lifetime—you don’t have to worry about their engines breaking down or parts needing replacement. You will get dings, but these are fixable and in larger boards rarely affect performance.


I always recommend that people buy a longboard. This means 3-5 feet above one’s head (8’-12’). I recommend these because you need to paddle quickly in order to catch waves, and you also need the stability that the bigger board provides to make standing up easier. Besides, all surfers should have a longboard in their quiver. They’re always great for small days—and let’s face it, barring hurricane swells, the NY summer is made up of mostly small days. Furthermore, you can use your longboard to get in shape and increase your paddling capacity at our paddling boot camps!

If you’re going to go the mid-length route (which is fine--you’ll just have to work harder to catch waves), I recommend a board in the 8’0”-8’6” range with a full outline—these are often called eggs or hybrids. What you don’t get in length you should make up for in width and thickness. As for the fin set-up on your first board, there’s no need to be too picky. I always prefer a single fin or a 3+1 (one big single fin and two small side fins) for stability, but anything will really do.

Storage and Transport

For those with NY apartment storage issues and no car the longboard presents a number of problems. This is definitely one of the factors that make surfing and learning to surf in New York unique. In this case I have two suggestions: 1. Get the longest board that will fit in your apartment and is relatively easy to maneuver onto the train; 2. Buy a longboard and figure out a storage situation at the beach. This can be at a friend’s pad, at a timeshare, or at one of the surf lockers (check out Locknsurf, or Boarders). I also recommend making friends with people who have cars or looking into Zipcar. Investing in a pair of soft racks (a pair of single soft racks is a good investment generally, especially for travel) will certainly make car-sharing a lot easier.

Board line up at Sundown Surf and Ski. Pic: Dion Mattison.

Board line up at Sundown Surf and Ski. Pic: Dion Mattison.