Soft Top Surfboards: Better Than You Think
When is a soft top surfboard a good option? Well, one of the most important decisions in a new surfer's quest to master the sport of kings is buying her first new board. The first question: old or new? It can be tough to drop over $600 for a new longboard when you're not too sure what to expect. On the other hand, paying $200-$350 for a used board isn't easy when you don't know how the surfboard's previous owner treated it. One solution to this dilemma: the soft top surfboard.
The SurfScience.com team recommends that a new surfer start with a longboard design. As already discussed in other articles, a longboard will steepen the learning curve because of the ease of catching waves, the increased stability, and its forgiving nature. On the other hand, the array of foam surfboards on the market today provides a beginner with more options when it comes to selecting equipment. Soft tops come in both shortboard and longboard designs created specifically with the beginner in mind. Here, we lay out some of the advantages to this unique category of board.
Price is always a factor when buying a surfboard, regardless of your skill level. Soft top boards vary in size, so prices will fluctuate. During our research we found Liquid Shredder offering their 4'8" kids shortboard model for $129 while their 9' longboard will go for $439. These prices are tough to beat, especially when you consider that their 6'4" shortboard model costs only $269. We were also pleased to see that Surftech got into the soft top market with two different lines. A standard longboard using the Surftech technology and materials might cost over $1,000. In contrast, we can all pick up one of their soft tops and pay anywhere from $360 to $615. A third company, Catch Surf, has four different models ranging in price from a $240 4' hybrid to a $540 9' longboard.
It wasn't long ago that a soft top forced a compromise on performance. This is no longer the case. Soft tops now fuse modern shortboard and longboard design with the safety features many beginners need. All three surfboard companies mentioned above, for example, offer boards designed by professional shapers. These shapers always have performance in mind while also making sure you will catch a ton of waves and have a lot of fun in the water. Catch Surf and their "Boards by Y" line claim to hand shape all rails using the same design characteristics as a traditional hard board. Catch Surf also designs each surfboard using CAD software to produce shapes and designs not typically found on soft shortboards. To make their surfboards stronger than a traditional soft top surfboard both Liquid Shredder and Catch Surf use a solid hard wood stringer system and epoxy resin or glue for added strength and flex. Although Surftech does not use a stringer system, their sandwich construction produces arguably the strongest and lightest soft top surfboard with a hard bottom that will satisfy both the beginner and intermediate surfer.
1. Good travel surfboards. No more big dings on the rail and deck of your board courtesy of airline employees.
2. Safety: This cannot be overemphasized. The soft deck and rails of this surfboard will soften any blow to the head.
3. Durable: I speak from experience when I say rail dings are a big pain. This will eliminate that unfortunate occurrence.
4. Save time and money: These boards are typically cheaper to buy off the rack. Dings cost your board time out of the water and cost you money out of pocket to fix.
5. The soft material will also prevent you from damaging other surfers' surfboards. You will like this benefit when others cut you some slack when making mistakes in the water.
6. High resell value: It is impossible to recover your costs when reselling a dinged surfboard. When you're ready for a new surfboard you can sell your soft top and make the majority back.
7. Warranty: Liquid Shredder offers surfboards with a 12 month warranty. Good luck getting that on your standard EPS/PU boards.
8. Performance: Improved technology and materials make this a great option for someone who wants to become a fundamentally sound surfer. You don't need to sacrifice performance for safety.
1. Traditional soft surfboards are heavier than hard boards
2. Soft surfboards may provide a sense that the rules in the water don't apply simply because the risk of injury is less. ALWAYS FOLLOW THE RULES.
3. Some soft tops can cause a board rash. If you're not in cold water then wear a rash guard or t-shirt.
Now that we presented a couple of great options to your standard EPS/PU hard surfboard it is time for you to do your research, check out our surfboard rack and visit your local surf shop, and make that fateful purchase. Good luck, and above all, have fun!
Three Example Companies:
-Hand shaped rails using the same design characteristics as hard surfboards
-Each surfboard designed using sophisticated CAD software to produce designs and shapes typically found only on hybrids
-Flush mounted surfboard fins that do not allow water to penetrate
-Stringer system is handmade into the core using wood
-Fiberglass, and epoxy resin permanently bonding the stringer into the board.
-One year warranty
-High performance shape
-Tucked under rail system
-Solid hard wood stringer for good surfing performance
-Full nose rocker
-Full tail rocker
-Closed cell foam
-High speed "aircraft quality" vinyl skin.
-Entry to Intermediate surfers
-Designed by professional shapers
-EPS foam core epoxy-resin-Fiberglass sandwich construction