Many manufacturers offer their boards in different sizes. I am often asked what the best size is for a rider of a given weight and height. Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question. The general rule of thumb would be to get the smallest board that still allows you to reach the waves you want. This would provide the rider with the best turning ability while still providing enough carrying power. Of course this doesn’t answer the question, it only rephrases it. The right size board depends on a riders weight, style, athletic ability, and experience. Let’s look at them individually.
Your weight may be the most significant factor in determining what size board you should ride. Big guys like to skim too, and they usually need bigger boards to do it. A heavier rider will be able to turn a large board more easily and often need the extra carry to get out to the waves. Small guys can often get away with a smaller board. Many board manufacturers offer weight recommendations for their different models. This is a good starting point, but the other factors can matter just as much, or more.
Below you will find Victoria Skimboards’ size/weight recommendations.
Extra Small Under 50 lbs.
Small 50 – 80 lbs.
Medium 80 – 180 lbs
Medium/Large 120 – 200 lbs.
Large 170 – 240
Extra Large Over 200
Notice that many of the size recommendations have overlapping weights. If you weigh 180 pounds you can ride a Medium, a Medium/Large, or a Large according to Victoria. How do you decide? See below.
Bigger boards turn slower but go faster, its a fact. Some riders have very fluid & smooth styles while others like to bust airs and tricks. Naturally, the smooth riders will generally prefer larger boards which allow them to reach bigger waves and charge down the line. Likewise a ‘new school’ rider will often prefer a smaller board which gives them more control when attempting difficult tricks.
Obviously, the faster you can run the less you need the the extra carry that a larger board provides. Conversely, if you run really slowly then you probably need a bigger board to help you reach the waves you want to ride.
Advanced riders know how to read the waves. They can see which waves will be the fastest and which ones to let go. Because of this they often don’t need a big board to help them reach the “hard to reach waves”. They are too busy going for the “easy to reach” waves. Likewise a beginner needs all the help he can get reaching and turning off of waves. A big board can be a real help to a beginning skimboarder.
So what is the moral of the story? Know what a board manufacturers size and weight recommendations are, but also consider the other factors. A manufacturers recommendations are just that, a recommendation. It is frequently the case that a rider prefers to ride a smaller or larger board than the manufacturer recommends for his weight. Keep this in mind when choosing a board.