Volume is your friend. Say "NO" to skinny sticks. An average surf session is probably 95% paddling and 5% surfing, so it makes sense to make the 95% part a bit easier. Specially in the bay, where most of our waves have a high grovel factor. Having a bit of extra buoyancy under your belly goes a long way to up’ing your wave count.
“…foam is your friend…don’t be scared of it. A little bit of extra foam here and there is good for the soul… and your surfing.” Rob Machado
When buying a new board we’ve always deliberated over the standard dimensions - length, width and thickness of the board. But volume was never really a consideration. In recent years, some of the international shapers have started including volume as part of their board specs. And it makes a whole bunch of sense....
Two surfers with the same weight, but differing experience levels, will paddle for a wave differently, so it makes sense that the flotation comes in to consideration.
The intermediate/advanced surfer on a shortboard will require between 33-35% of his body weight in board volume. So for example, if you’re clocking the scales at 70 kilograms, you should be looking for a 24-liter surfboard.
If you’re a beginner you’ll be looking to up that ratio a fair bit – cos extra buoyancy means easier paddling and get-ups thanks to the additional flotation. Jordy ain't no beginner, but he's not afraid of volume...
Science says one litre floats one kilogram of weight. So using this knowledge a dude called Whitney Guild has created a volumetric table system aptly named the "Guild Factor." Put simply, the Guild Factor brings together your fitness level, ability, body weight, and surfboard volumes to find the right one for you. It's the Ratio of Surfboard Volume to Body Weight.
This surfing scale allows surfers to pick the right surfboard for their skill levels; and accounts for wave conditions.
The formula looks like this:
Surfer's Weight in Kilograms (Kg) X Guild Factor (GF) for Skill Level = Litres of Surfboard Volume
Here are some of the common "Guild Factor" ratios
*If you’re surfing in warm water and good waves, the lower end of your ratio range is recommended. If you’re surfing in poor conditions, looking for paddle power in crowded situations, or wearing thick wetsuits, lean towards the higher end of the range that you fall into
FIND YOUR VOLUME:
On the Guild Factor graph below, slide the left hand bar to your body weight.
Decide what ratio best describes you and your abilities on the GF Shortboard Ratios above. Slide the right hand bar so that the Dot is on your preferred / estimated GF Ratio on the line running vertically down the middle of the graph.
Inside the box on the lower right hand corner of the graph is your estimated volume. Ideal volume has a range of +/- 0.5 Liters, so it is not an exact number but it is the best place to start when accounting for your ability, fitness, age and wave type.
The guys at Compare Surfboards (http://www.comparesurfboards.com/) have also come up with a cool lil graph which also gives you an idea of where you should be at in terms of volume based on what type of board you're looking to ride.
K, so no more excuses as to why you're out in the line-up on a stick that's too skinny for you!! Luckily both our local shapers have foam friendly models, so ask Dennis Ellis at the Boardroom for a Vetkoek or Tokoloshe; or Greg Smith for a Gobbler. Both guaranteed up make surfing the average PE slop so much more fun!