Upgrading From A Wavestorm: Soft vs Hard Surfboards

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You are rounding out your first season on your Costco Wavestorm, progressing from a first-time beginner surfer to novice?

Congrats! You’ve decided that surfing is right for you and you want to know what surfboard to get next after your Wavestorm surfboard to continue to build your surfing skills and continue to have fun.

Most surfers who are moving on from a Wavestorm or another soft surfboard ask themselves, “Should I get a hard top or a soft top surfboard?”

The better question to ask is, “Will a hardtop or another foamie progress my surfing?”

Soft Or Hard Surfboards: Which Is Best To Progress Your Surfing After A Wavestorm?

Each surfboard construction type has its advocates and detractors; there are lots of pros and cons for each, but which one is right for you at your stage of surfing?

Let’s explore if a hard surfboard or a soft surfboard is the better surfboard based on your level of surfing and figure out what your next surfboard should be.

Soft Surfboards (Softboards)

The most common surfboard used by beginner and novice surfers is the soft top surfboard. These are foam-construction surfboards and are sometimes referred to as “foamies”.

A foam surfboard is easy to ride and provides a lot of buoyancy and Amazon has ton to choose from. In fact, the added buoyancy is what makes softboards such a good choice for beginner surfers. It’s much easier to paddle a surfboard with lots of buoyancy and you’ll also find it easier to surf short and choppy waves because they offer a lot of stability.

Foam surfboards can be cheap in both price (starting at about $200) and quality. They are a little more forgiving than hard tops, as it won’t hurt as much when you fall and collide with the surfboard, or won’t damage the surfboard easily when you swing it around and knock it into a wall.

Soft top surfboards can also be big and cumbersome, but it really all depends on the length of the foamie. The length of foamie a beginner or novice surfer uses is about 8 feet in length and can be cumbersome, especially if you are surfer with a smaller frame.

With that said, as a beginner surfer, bigger is typically better, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy the longest foam surfboard on the rack and there are some short and mid-length surfboards that can still be suitable for a beginner surfer depending on your level of skill and the buoyancy of the soft top surfboard in question.

How Much Do Soft Top Surfboards Weight?

The weight of a soft top will depend on 2 main factors: the size of the surfboard and the material a soft top is made of.

Smaller soft top surfboards use less foam and can weigh as little as 8 lbs for a 6-foot surfboard.

Bigger soft top surfboards in the 9-foot range weigh around 15 lbs. Higher quality, denser-foam soft top 9-foot surfboards can weight closer to 20 lbs.

The popular 8’ Classic Wavestorm weights about 12.5 lbs. The newer surfboard from Costco, the 8’ Gerry Lopez Soft Top, weights 13.5 lbs.

Can Soft Top Surfboard Get Waterlogged?

One of the problems with foam surfboards is that they can take in water over time, getting waterlogged and heavy making it difficult to surf. You may even experience a sinking feeling when you sit on a waterlogged foamie.

A soft top surfboard typically gets waterlogged when the foam gets damaged and the core of the surfboard start to soak up the water like a sponge.

How Do I Know If My Foam Board Is Waterlogged?

The first sign that you may have a waterlogged foamie is visible damage to the foam. This could be a small nick or a bigger gouge that may have occurred from dropping the surfboard on the ground or colliding with another surfboard.

You should also check to be sure the foam of the soft top surfboard isn’t detaching from the plastic parts. This is another entry point for water to get in. You may also notice some decoloring of the foam which is an indication of damaged and the board is likely taking in water.

You definitely know your foamie surfboard is waterlogged if you press on the foam and water starts to release. It will be obvious as water will start to drip out of the surfboard.

Is A Waterlogged Surfboard Ruined?

It’s time to say goodbye to your foamie surfboard once it is waterlogged. The benefit of all that foam is no longer going to be helpful. It will literally weigh you down.

Hard Surfboards (Hardboards)

Hard top surfboards are made from a dense foam material, typically polyurethane or polystyrene, and are coated in polyester or epoxy resin respectively.

Hard surfboards have a light inner core and a hard outer shell that provides buoyancy and is still light in weight.

The problem with surfboards that have a hard resin outer coating is that they are easily prone to dents and dings, and this jeopardizes the foam within, making it waterlogged and shortening the life of the surfboard over time.

On the plus side, when you damage a hard top you typically hear it happen and/or feel the ragged fiberglass after the damage has occurred with is a strong tell to get the surfboard repaired.

Hard tops are also prone to sun damage and heat damage which can result in a yellowing discoloration and/or the separation of the foam from the resin.

Hard top surfboards are also more rigged than soft tops and have a shape that is more geared to performance than soft top surfboards.

How Much Are Hard Top Surfboards?

You will pay more for a hard top surfboard, starting at about $600 for a short surfboard and about $1,000 for a longboard. You will also need to take better care of it to ensure it doesn’t degrade, lest you have an expensive repair or a total write-off on your hands.

Are Hard Tops Heavier Than Soft Top Surfboards?

Hard tops and soft tops weigh about the same for a similar size surfboard.

A denser 9-foot soft top will be heavier than its 9-foot hard-top counterpart. Also, a heavily glassed hard top will be heavier than typical soft top surfboard of a similar length. The latter being an exception.

So, Which Is It? Hard Tops or Soft Tops for a Beginner Or A Novice Surfer?

As a beginner, you should focus more on soft top surfboards. You’ll get more paddling power, and they won’t leave a sizable hole in your bank account.

They’re fun, easy to ride, and great for mild summer conditions-just what you need as a beginner surfer.

How To Know If You Are A Beginner Surfer?

You know you are a beginner surfer if this sounds like you:

  • You know the difference between the nose and the tail of a surfboard, and you know the sides of the surfboard are called rails.
  • You know if you are goofy footed or a regular foot.
  • You can sit on the surfboard without falling off.
  • You ride the surfboard straight to the beach.
  • You are catching broken white-water waves.

The most important characteristic above is how you are catching waves. If you are still catching whitewater or can’t make a drop on a clean wave successfully, we recommend that you stick with a foamie surfboard.

How To Know If You Are A Novice Surfer?

You know you are a novice surfer if this sounds like you:

  • You know surf etiquette and know what it means to drop in on another surfer.
  • You are catching unbroken waves.
  • You are surfing at least once every two weeks.
  • You are making more waves than you are wiping out.
  • You are starting to make bottom turns and surf the wave down the line.
  • You can perform a cut back to any degree.

Most of the above characteristics are about surfing waves. If this sounds like you, you have options for your next surfboard.

Which Surfboard Construction Is Better For A Novice Surfer?

Novice surfers can go with a denser, smaller, higher quality foam surfboard in the 7-to-8-foot range or with a hard surfboard in a similar range.

If you are getting in the water at least once a week or plan to, we recommend getting a used hard top surfboard as your next surfboard. You will progress faster on a hard top becausethey are more responsive than soft tops and it will set you up for your next surfboard which will be more of a performance surfboard like a noserider longboard, a fish, or a shortboard.

Summary: When To Upgrade To A Hardboard

Softboards are great for beginner surfers, but there will come a time when you need to upgrade. Once you feel more comfortable on the water and are looking for a sharper, smoother surfing experience, it’s time to upgrade to a hard top surfboard.

It’s important not to go too short. You can shave a couple of inches off the length, but you shouldn’t look for anything shorter than a funboard. At that point, it starts being more about performance benefits and less about staying stable, strong, and having fun.