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> Surfing gear, clothing and equipment... here's what you'll need

Compared to other sports - the gear required for surfing is pretty reasonably priced considering most of the equipment on offer is of good quality and will last for many years.

We recommend you purchase your equipment from a good surf shop, that employ real surfers with first hand knowledge of the products on offer and the conditions of the local surf.

Equipment list:
Surf board
used £150 to £400
Wetsuit used £50 - £200
Boots (winter use) £20
Gloves (winter use) £20
Board bag £100
Car roof rack £40
Accomodation: van, tent, B&B, surf hostel, or hotel - take your pick (costs vary). Wax is a cheap and the waves are free!

Stuff you wear: shorts or wetsuit?

If you are lucky enough to be surfing in warm climates, you'll probably be able to surf in a good old pair of shorts and a rash shirt (i.e. a tight fitting shirt that prevents the board from giving you a rash on your chest), and not have to worry about using a wetsuit. However if you are surfing in Europe you'll need a good quality wetsuit (which is good and warm).

Wetsuit: Not all wetsuits are the same. Wetsuits designed for surfing allow plenty shoulder and knee movement, and are available in a range of thickness. For cold water (esp. winter conditions) you'll probably need a wetsuit made out of thick neoprene (possibly 4/5 mm) in order to keep you warm. In warm summer conditions you may be able to get by with 2 mm neoprene suits, or a 'shortie' styled wetsuit (with short sleeves and legs).

Good quality wetsuits have sealed seams that hold a thin layer of water against your skin which once warm works as insulation. Cheap nasty suits don't usually have sealed seams and allow water to flush through them and thus are crap in cold water.

Booties: some surfers wear neoprene booties to protect their feet from coral, rocks, stinging fishy type things, and of course the cold!
Gloves & hood: In winter conditions neoprene gloves and a balaclava type hood for your head will help you retain some of your body heat.
Helmet: Yikes! If you are surfing in some dangerous locations near rocks or coral, a helmet is a good idea. Always protect your brain (and your wedding tackle).
Catagories / styles of surfboards

a) Beginners boards
b) Long boards
c) Mini Malls (Mini Logs)
d) Short boards
e) Guns

a) Beginners boards (soft boards): An increasing number of surf schools now use beginner boards made with a high density foam material which is very buoyant and has a spongy exterior hence the name 'soft boards'. These boards are designed to be very user friendly, and can catch just about any wave. These boards have a soft cushiony exterior, which is a real asset if you get hit by your board during a wipeout. The stable nature of these boards is a real Godsend as beginners struggle to find their feet - having said that since these boards are so stable they don't turn very well so you'll quickly out grow them and move onto hard boards.

The rest of the surfboard types can be classified as hard boards. Proper 'hard boards' are made from fiberglass and come in a range of shapes and lengths, which suit the different surf conditions and surfing styles. Recently cheap molded plastic boards (referred to as 'pop outs') have found their way to the market and are er... a bit dumpier, and are usually er... pretty crap when compared to fiberglass boards.

b) Long boards: Whoa! - big boards usually measuring between 8'6 to 11' long with a rounded nose and square tail.

c) Mini Mall: A good board for use in a wide range of different surf conditions. Measures approximately 7' to 8'6

d) Short Boards: These are for those who really know how to surf. They usually measure between 5'6 to 6'11 and have a pointed nose and pin rear tail.

e) Guns: Cripes! These are used for big bone crushing surf (10' to 30' plus waves). Guns usually have a pin shaped nose and tail and are as long as 'long boards'.

Parts of a surfboard

Nose: the front of the board.

Tail: the back of the board

Rails: these are the rounded edges that run the length of the board. When you go from 'paddling mode' to 'stand-up/surfing mode' you'll need to put the palms of your hands on the rails to push your body upwards

Deck: the big upper flat bit you'll be standing on

Belly: the smooth underside of the board, where the fins are mounted.

Fins: most beginner boards have one fin at the tail of the board, while most hard boards have 3 fins (sometimes 5). Remember: If you are silly enough to be positioned on a direct collision course with an on coming surfer, remember that the fins on his or her board have a sharp edge to them and are traveling at speed. Either get the hell out of the way or prepare yourself for some stitches. For more info on fins visit Fin Control Systems.

Leash: this is an incredibly strong cable that has one end fixed to the tail of the board and the other end velcroed to your ankle. The leash ensures your board doesn't get too far away from you after wiping out. As a rough guide, the leash should be about the same length as your board.
Track Pad: a rubbery mat stuck onto the tail of the board providing extra grip for your rear foot. Not all surfboards have them since surf wax performs so well (note: surf wax is sticky when wet).
 
Surfboard Wax - sticky stuff
Surfboard wax is applied to the top surface (the deck) of hard boards and it's designed to enable you to stick to the board in the watery conditions. It's also applied to the rails (the side sections of the board) so your hands don't slip when you are pushing your body upward into the standing position. You may hear to it referred to as 'Sex Wax' since it's one of the leading brands ("Mr. Zogs Sex Wax).