The magic of surfing is undeniably tied to the surfboard. Much like a musical instrument to a musician, the surfboard becomes an extension of the surfer and, inevitably, one of their most prized possessions.
They're not just foam and fiberglass; they are vehicles of joy and freedom, providing a direct route to ride the waves.
Their intricate design is rooted in precise balance, hydrodynamics, and aesthetic appeal - all factors that contribute to the board's performance and longevity.
But surfboards, despite their sturdy appearance, are delicate creatures, susceptible to damage and wear.
It is paramount for every surfer, novice or professional, to understand the importance of maintaining their boards, keeping them in prime condition, and preserving their key characteristics to sustain high performance and extend their lifespan.
This comprehensive guide walks you through ten essential tips for surfboard care and maintenance, making sure your trusted wave-riding companion stays "healthy" and ready to ride.
If you're paying $300-$1,000 for a surfboard - second-hand or new - these quick suggestions are worth a read.
1. Always Use a Surfboard Bag or Sock
Transport mishaps frequently result in unwanted cracks and fissures.
A surfboard bag or sock can provide a much-needed protective shield against such accidents.
They shield the board from minor bumps and scratches, preventing unnecessary dings and maintaining the board's integrity.
Additionally, they provide protection from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can damage your surfboard's surface over time.
2. Rinse Your Equipment With Fresh Water After Each Session
Sea salt and sand are your surfboard's adversaries, slowly eating away at its protective layer over time.
Left unchecked, it can corrode the board's surface and, over time, weaken its structure.
Hence, a post-surf rinse with fresh water is crucial and a habit that you should incorporate into your surfing routines.
Pay close attention to the leash and fins, ensuring all salt deposits are thoroughly washed away.
3. Check for Dings, Cracks, and Fissures Before and After the Surf
Like a car mechanic inspecting a vehicle, you must diligently check your surfboard for dings, cracks, and fissures before and after each surf.
These can jeopardize your board's performance and, if left unattended, allow water to ingress into the core, compromising buoyancy and strength.
Early detection and prompt repair can prevent further damage and elongate your surfboard's life.
4. Don't Drag the Leash
It may seem harmless, but dragging your leash behind you as you walk can damage both the leash and the board.
Not only does the repetitive friction caused by dragging lead to premature leash wear, compromising its functionality, but it can also result in someone stepping on it and ripping out the leash plug from the board.
So, remember to hold it in your hand or wrap it around your board when getting in and out of the water.
5. Remove Old Wax Regularly
Over time, old wax can build up, making your surfboard heavy and dirty and affecting its balance.
To maintain the board's optimum performance, regular de-waxing is recommended.
Besides, a clean, wax-free board gives you a fresh canvas to apply a new layer before your next session, ensuring optimal grip and control.
6. Never Leave the Stick Under the Sun for Hours
Sunlight may be a surfer's best friend, but it's a surfboard's nemesis.
Prolonged sun exposure can cause surfboard materials to degrade, particularly the foam core, which can turn yellow and weaken over time.
The heat can also delaminate the board's skin from the core, causing bubbles to form. Hence, never leave your board under the sun for hours.
When not in use, shade is your surfboard's best friend.
7. Never Leave the Board in the Car
A car's interior can heat up quickly, especially during summer, making it a mini sauna.
Just like the damaging effects of direct sun, high temperatures can lead to delamination and other structural damage to your board.
So, avoid leaving your surfboard in the car for extended periods.
If you really must leave your board in the vehicle, make sure it is as shaded as possible.
8. Keep it in a Dry and Cool Place
When not in use, your surfboard should be kept in a dry, cool place, away from direct sunlight.
These conditions prevent both water damage and heat degradation.
It's the same logic that applies to keeping fresh produce at its best: appropriate storage conditions extend longevity and maintain quality.
An indoor storage area with controlled temperature and humidity is ideal.
9. Use Wall/Upright Racks to Store It
A surfboard isn't a piece of floor decor; it's meant to ride waves.
Therefore, storing it properly is an integral part of surfboard care and critical to prevent damage and deformation.
Wall or upright racks are an excellent option as they keep the board off the ground and help prevent accidental damage.
Besides, it's a practical and visually appealing way to display your surfboard and reduce the risk of dents.
10. Add Special Protection for Long Travel
When embarking on long journeys, road trips, or long-haul flights, your surfboard requires extra protection.
Travel can be particularly taxing, with multiple transfers, rough handling, and varying temperatures.
Use bubble wrap or foam pipe insulation to safeguard the rails, nose, and tail – the most vulnerable parts of your board.
Additionally, consider investing in a high-quality travel bag designed for surfboards, preferably one with built-in padding for extra protection.
Remove the fins if possible.