Progressing from a Beginner to Intermediate Surfer

March 12, 2022

Progressing from a Beginner to Intermediate Surfer

Sizing our customers up brings a whole new dimension to surfing. Typically, as a beginner surfer you are forced to buy a surfboard with one primary focus, stability. The bummer about this is even though you are able to stand up... once up, you can hardly turn your board. This forces you to buy another board just to progress and move on (just what you wanted to do... buy 2 boards to learn to surf).

If you did want more maneuverability, you sacrifice float, paddling, and stability, leaving the learning curve super steep and making surfing more difficult than it really is.


We’ve thrown out the idea that each shape caters to a certain style of surfing or surfer. Some companies only make shortboards, some, only longboards. Many shapers take pride in having extremely fine-tuned surfboards for every little application.

Our surfboard lineup is tailored to span all types of surfers. Each board is designed with the widest range of surfers in mind. This means each board will be forgiving while learning, yet will present new doors to open around every corner while you progress.

We’ve taken into account all the elements needed for stability (thickness, width, and concaves), and combined them with the critical elements of maneuverability (rocker, rails, and fin setup). With all the elements working together, you get a board that is stable AND maneuverable. This is EXTREMELY important as a beginner.

Bottom line, as a beginner, you want a surfboard that is both easy to learn and will be a blast to ride as you get better.


Your height and weight directly affect the length and thickness of your surfboard. In general if you are a beginner, THINK BIG.

The reason for this takes us back to the simple dynamics of volume. More volume will float you better, and will feel more stable. This is very important when learning to surf because it allows you to develop technique and balance on a very consistent object.

Keep in mind that as you add length to the board, it’ll be tougher to paddle out through waves. Although your longboard will feel easy to paddle in calm waters, you still need to hold onto it as you go through the waves. If your board is too big for you, you may feel like you are trying to steer a barge, and that is a disaster waiting to happen!

Here are the general rules a beginner should use for length:

Buy a surfboard that is roughly 36” or 3’ taller than the rider. We know this seems huge but you will learn faster and have a lot more fun if you go with a bigger board.

When it comes to thickness, as a beginner, you really won’t have too much to worry about here. Most longboards are in the 2.5” - 3” range and for most surfers under 200lbs that should work great. If you’re in the 200 - 260lbs range will need a little more volume for your surfboard and will likely need a board in the 3” - 3.75” range. (For over 260lbs, you will likely need to order a custom surfboard. For small riders like a grom you will want to go smaller and thinner which we can advise you on.


There are many surfboards out there to choose from... from websites to craigslist to surf shops. Everybody has a board they are trying to sell but most of the boards for sale won’t work for a beginner because of all the reasons we mentioned above.

More than likely you’ll be starting on a longboard. The only question to ask is “which one?”


The flagship of Degree 33 Surfboards, we decided to call this longboard the “Ultimate” because of its unique ability to combine and utilize so many elements of great longboards into one board. It’s super stable, turns great and takes little effort to paddle. It starts with a flat-to-double concave that allows this longboard to paddle and glide super easy. This is essential to catching waves as you need to match your board speed with the wave speed for easy take offs. The cornerstone, however, is the beveled or “chined” rails that stretch from the nose to just in front of the side fin boxes. The most common “turning error” is digging a rail into the wave, get- ting stuck, and being unable to bring the board around. The chines actually pull the rails up and away from the water allowing for the easiest turns you’ve ever made on a longboard. This board is for EVERYONE.

Here's a review from one of our Ultimate customers:

I just wanted to send you a quick personal response on that Ultimate I picked up from you last weekend. The board is sweet. I am just learning how to surf and don’t have much experience with other boards (a couple of rentals is all) but that board was so much easier to ride than anything I’ve ever been on.

It paddled great, and I was even able to turn it... I’ve never been able to turn any other surfboard. I am rambling but I am SOO excited and thought you should know. Make sure that any beginner that buys a board from you buys the same one I did. Home run man. Thanks.”

-Chet Womach Lacy, WA


Height and weight will always play into your board selection but as you progress it becomes less of an issue.

There isn’t necessarily a rule of thumb guideline that I can plug in here and tell you the magic size. It will depend on the style of board you are selecting, where you will be surfing, the types of waves you will be on, and of course your height and weight.

If you’re looking to move down in size we would recommend you give us a call so that we can help you pick the right board for your circumstances. But for those of you that need some direction here are a couple of common choices.


Transition surfboards are typically going to shorter in the 6'6" to 7'6" range and will have a pulled in tail. This will provide more maneuverability and a looser feel.

Here are our top two transition boards.


It’s summer time blues and you still want a solid wave count. Take the Poacher for a spin. It’s designed to be fun, loose, and a wave catching weapon when the waves render shorter boards useless. The Poacher has a purpose for everyone. It’s unique. It’s perfect for a first time grom (youth) or a lightweight lady looking to get out on the water on a manageable board. It’s also ideal for the average surfer wanting to catch everything without moving to a longboard. A thruster fin setup on a round pin tail outline gives you classic control and smooth turns. The Poacher gives you great speed down the line and keeps your rail to rail transitions quick. This means you’ll not only be laying turns when there’s some push, but it will make those smaller days a breeze as well. This board is for ALL skill levels.


If you could only have only one transition board, the Easy Rider is an amazing choice. With the ability to surf it as a quad or a thruster, the Easy Rider can flex into just about any role. Small and mushy or punchy and hollow, The Easy Rider will excel. The Easy Rider has extra width and volume through the entire outline with a pulled in swallow tail for hold in bigger surf. The extra width under the front fins adds stability and lift when driving through turns and planing through the flats. Whether you’re looking for a transition board or the perfect one-board-quiver to travel with, you won’t be disappointed with the Easy Rider. Longer lengths are for beginners looking to transition into intermediate surfing. Shorter lengths are for intermediate to advanced surfers.

There are many other options when you start progressing in your surfing.  A quick internet search will show you the plethora of boards that are being hailed as magic boards.  One thing we try to do is listen to you and figure out which board will help you go to the next level.  This requires a careful approach to understanding your experience, your height, your weight and what your goals are.  Consider Degree 33 as your surf doctor.  Give us a call at (800) 920-2362 or email anytime you would like to discuss your next board.  

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Degree 33 Surf Blog

How to Barrel Ride
How to Barrel Ride

May 13, 2024

Continue Reading

How to pick your surf spot
How to pick your surf spot

April 04, 2024

Whether you are a newer surfer just learning how to navigate a line up, or a more advanced surfer in a new area, learning to pick your surf spot can been intimidating! This blog will outline a few general principles to help you have more success in picking your spots and in having more fun in your sessions! 

Continue Reading

Surf Tips for Intermediate: Proper wave positioning, staying in the pocket, power zones
Surf Tips for Intermediate: Proper wave positioning, staying in the pocket, power zones

April 04, 2024

This is perhaps our most important blog yet for intermediate surfers. Staying in the power zones of the wave is the foundation for all good surfing, so take a minute to study these tips to apply them in the water. 

Continue Reading