I took a couple of surf lessons and we didn’t use surf wax on the boards. What is it used for and why?
— Allison, Jacksonville, FL
Surf wax is designed to help your feet grip the board, but you don’t need wax if you are a beginner riding a foam board—the foam is rough enough to keep feet from slipping and sliding around. However, if you don’t have surf wax on a fiberglass board you’re riding, you will slip right off — it doesn’t matter if you’re riding on big or small waves. Most surf wax is labeled for different water temperatures and you should choose the right wax for the water temperature or you might find that your wax will become too hard (slippery) or too soft (gooey). Here are a few tips for waxing your fiberglass board:
• Wax your board in the shade so that the wax doesn’t become melty and goopy.
• Try to wax your board before you get on the sand to avoid getting too many sand particles in the wax (trust us: too much sand and it will scratch your skin).
• Apply the wax so that the top of the board feels sticky, not smooth (it’s different than the wax you use on a snowboard). You can wax up and down or side to side or in a circular motion.
• Wax from the tail to about a couple feet below the nose, unless you are on a noserider, in which case you’ll want to wax from tail to nose (and then I’m guessing you’d already know all about waxing anyway!). The goal is to get little wax bumps to cover about 3/4 of your board.
• Don’t wax the underside of your board. (It seems obvious, but I’ve been asked about that!)
• Change your wax after it gets dirty enough to turn a yucky brownish-black. To apply new wax, place your board in the sun for as long as it takes the wax to get soft and then use a wax comb or other flat object like a paint scraper to remove the wax dirty wax before you apply new wax.
This Betty is stoked to see new waxes on the market that are not harmful to the environment. Check out: GreenSurf, Terra Wax, Northern Light Surf Wax, and Funky Puffin’s Jersey Surf Wax.
Enjoy the ride,
Filed under Advice, Surfing
What’s the difference between foam and fiberglass surfboards? Which should I ride?
— Terri, Beverly Hills, CA
A foam board is, well, it’s a board made out of foam, kind of like a large boogie board. It is bigger and more buoyant than a fiberglass board, and because of its rough surface, it doesn’t need to be waxed. Also, foam boards won’t seriously hurt if they crash into you (which they undoubtedly will). A fiberglass board is a foam (a different kind of foam) blank that is hand-shaped and covered with a hard fiberglass layer that makes it light and durable, and able to glide easily on water so that you can perform maneuvers and tricks. The drawback of a fiberglass board is that it can be easily damaged with cracks or dings that need to be repaired.
The newest of newbies should consider taking a lesson or two on a large foam board before making any purchases. It’s a good idea to rent a foam board for your first couple of forays out on your own. If you think you may only be a fair-weather surfer who never gets much beyond the white water or if you have trouble with your knees or are (ahem) an older Betty, a Soft-Top may be the ideal board for you. These have foam decks but fiberglass bottoms so they ride better but aren’t as hard on your body. If you have been bitten by the surf bug and plan to be out in the ocean often, a fiberglass board would probably be best for you.
Enjoy the ride,
Filed under Advice, Surfing
Read on, dear surfers! Here’s the Surf Like a Girl list of favorite surf books. (We should mention that Rebecca’s “Surf Like A Girl” would have made the list, but it sold out of its print run and is currently out of print… but stay tuned for news of its second printing!) These are instructional, inspirational, entertaining, sweet, and beautiful.
“Encyclopedia of Surfing”
“A must have for every surfer girl (or guy).” — Annie
“This really is one of the best teen books.” — Stef
“I keep this on my coffee table.” — Rebecca
“World Stormrider Guide”
“When taking a surf trip, don’t leave this book at home.” — Annie
“It’s so great that a volume of great writing can be all about surfing.” — Stef
“In Search of Captain Zero”
“One of the best surfer stories out there.” — Annie
“This is by far my favorite surf guide. I love that it is plain and simple.” — Annie
“Surf Diva: Guide to Getting Good Waves”
“A great primer for divas!” — Annie
“Let My People Go Surfing”
“The Mountain and the Wave”
“Rhinos Who Surf”
“This is such a cute book for kids.” — Rebecca