SURFING: The Perfect "Quiver" of Boards - why do surfers want more than one surfboard anyway?

Hi everyone on HIVE! I have been on HIVE for about a month, looking around, and posting mostly about my original music, my beautiful cats, and my little adventures as a surfer living in Cape Town, South Africa.

Give me a follow if any of these topics seem interesting!

So far, I’ve noticed that one of the other people on HIVE who seems to talk a lot about surfing is @jobiker. He has recently been posting about a surf trip to Indonesia (lucky guy!) and I noticed that one of the comments was from a person who was surprised that he owned more than one board and was even taking several boards with him on the trip. Why? The commenter assumed that you would find a perfect board for you and then never use anything else…

The Perfect “Quiver”

Actually, most surfers who get into surfing properly (rather than some kind of secondary hobby) all seem to have a little collection of boards, or a “quiver” (like the device that holds an archer’s arrows!)

It turns out surfboard design can vary quite widely, and the design usually comprises of different compromises between speed, manoeuvrability and stability. This means that different surfboards perform better in different types of waves.

Small Waves
The perfect quiver begins with a surfboard that will make you want to surf even when the waves are small and weak, and possibly even choppy. In this case, you will want a board that has extra volume to help you paddle into the small weak waves. You will probably choose a board that it short, fat and thick for this purpose. It will also be flatter than normal, and it will probably have a wide tail or a swallow tail to help water flow through and help you get as much energy out of a weak wave as possible. A “fish” is a great example, but in recent years, shapers have been designing short fat “grovel” boards that are even more suited to small weak waves.

The surfer may also choose to use a longboard or a mini-mal (a short version of a longboard or “malibu”) for very small surf days as well, but this is almost a different kind of surfing altogether!

The high-performance surfboard
This will be the board you use while trying to do your best turns in decent waves that have enough power to allow this, while not being big, steep, or powerful enough to be scary. This board usually has the least overall volume of the boards in your quiver. It is usually your standard three-fin “thruster” with a squash tail (rounded square and not too wide).

The Step Up
For waves that are a little bit bigger, or are steep and powerful, the surfer will want a board that is just a little bit bigger and longer with more volume to help get into these steep and powerful waves early before they completely hollow out. Now that the wave is powerful, instead of wanting your board to add energy, you are more concerned about stability and so often a round tail is used, and possibly bigger fins as well.

The semi-guns and guns
A “gun” (what is with all these “weapon” words like quiver and gun? 😊) is a big-wave surfboard. This board will be very long and thick to help you paddle into enormous waves early and will be designed with stability in mind – big fins and a pin-tail.

Other factors?

The above is just the basics.

• Perhaps you like to play around with the number of fins! While three fins used to be the standard balance of stability and manoeuvrability, people seem to enjoy going back in time to single (1970s) and twin-fins (1980s). Quad fins are a popular option at the moment as well.

There also seems to be interesting trends now, such as:

  • boards with round tails but two fins instead of the normal three (a counter-intuitive mix in my opinion as round tails are for stability, while twin fins are known for being manoeuvrable to the point of wobbliness but perhaps these boards feel like a nice compromise?)
  • mid-length surfboards that are like flatter than usual semi-guns but for small waves – apparently, they feel nice and flowy and help you feel stylish…
  • soft-top surfboards for taking on shore-breaks and other dumpy waves with less fear of being hit by your own board in the resulting wipe-outs.


Here it is

From front-to-back:
• The red board was short (5’5) and wide and was for small waves.
• Behind that you can just see the white nose of a high-performance board (5’10) for normal waves.
• In the silver bag is a round-tail step-up (6’3) for steeper, bigger waves.
• Behind that is the white nose of a 7’0 semi-gun with a pintail for the biggest waves I have the bravery for. I don’t surf big enough waves for a full “gun” surfboard.
• Behind that is the orange mini-mal, ironically for small flat waves again!
• And yes, in the blue bag is a bodyboard! Sometimes the best way to ride the waves on offer is to not even try to stand! This is especially true for shallow shore-breaks and reefs that break very fast and hollow.


Did the boards get old? Yes, slightly… but it was me that changed more! As I entered my 30s, my metabolism slowed down. I also started doing other kinds of strength-based exercises which seemed to increase my appetite and ability to finally put on a little bit of muscle. I have also recently become a father for the first time. Basically, I put on over 10kg!

To be clear, in my early 20s I was incredibly thin – about 62kg as a 6’2 (187cm) man, and so now that I weigh about 77kg, with some of the extra weight being muscle, I’m actually pretty happy to finally look more “normal”!…

But all of those boards in the picture (except the mini-mal which has loads of volume) were designed with a surfer of about 70kg in mind, or even lighter if they’re as mediocre at surfing as me! Even the 7'0 semi-gun is feeling a bit narrow and thin such that it is not as helpful in bigger waves as I'd like!

So, I am slowly going through the expensive process of replacing the boards with bigger versions where the volume and resulting buoyancy matches what I weigh now, or a little bit extra, just to be safe. My weight seems to have stabilized, but you never know! Ironically, I seem to gain weight more when I exercise more, and I’m exercising a bit less as a new dad, but I could get it right and find the time again!

It has been wonderful to surf boards that match my new weight and feel like I’m catching waves easily again as a result!

I will be sure to write about the adventures I am having with the new boards I have managed to get so far, and post about it soon!


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