I put some notes together for a friend who is starting to look at surfboards on Craigslist. He's a beginner looking for something to ride while learning.
Maybe these tips will help you too? Here's what I like to do when I look at a used surfboard.
- It's hard to tell how big a board is in a picture. Make sure you get dimensions and those dimensions fit your body & style of surfing.
- Look at the fins, leash plug, and rails. Look for cracks that might be open.
- If you find a crack or a repaired ding, squeeze it a bit to see if there are soft spots nearby (to tell if it's waterlogged).
- If the board is a single-fin or a 2+1, look at the part of the big fin that would touch the ground. If the ground-facing tip is chewed up, one of the last owners may have been a little careless with where they put the board down.
- If the board is a 2+1, make sure those little sidebite fins are solid. If they're removable (usually with a hex wrench), see if the bolts are rusty. If they're glassed-on, just do the crack check.
- Make sure that the water-side of the board is smooth. This is the side you'll be sliding on. Dings, dents, bumps won't help you too much.
- Pick it up to see if it's reasonably balanced (some patches can be really heavy and throw off the board balance).
- Look from the tail toward the nose (and vice-versa). Sometimes you'll see a twist in a board. If you see something, ask about it.
- See if there's a serial number on the board (handy for tracking history).
- Of course, ask where the seller got it. Get the whole story of the board. This will come in handy at some point.
- Ask the seller where he/she surfed it. What worked, what didn't? Why are they unloading it? What will they be surfing next?
- Look for known shapers and brands. Bonus points are always awarded for investing in local shapers. These will all help with resale.
Sometimes a board will have some problems and it's just worth picking it up anyway. Sometimes the board looks great, but it's just a dud once it gets into the water. If you get stuck with a dud, you'll learn something.
What do you like to do when shopping for new gear?