When looking at a fresh whip, what is your guiding light?
If you know the dimensions you surf, this can be easy. Maybe tweak them up or down a nudge to give it that new-car-feel. But do you also look at volume? And does that play into your deciding board-purchase factor? Too much makes people recoil, too little has the same impact. To lay out exactly what it all means, we tapped up Luke Hart, head shaper at Fourth Surfboards to impart those years of expertise on to the masses. Here's all the questions you ever had about surfboard volume.
Volume: What is it?
A surfboard's volume is the amount of matter the board would hold if it was a vessel. So the bigger the board the more volume it would have.
How does it impact the board I’m riding?
The volume of a surfboard counter balances the rider's weight while riding and paddling a surfboard. If you don't have enough volume your board will be hard to paddle and hard to gain or maintain speed when riding.
Is it important?
It's important to have the right amount of volume to surf the board you want to ride as it should be ridden. It is not important to only surf one volume. Different board designs allow use for more or less volume depending on the style of board and who this particular design is aimed at.
The right volume on one board isn't necessarily the right volume for another board. Never let volume alone sway your decisions. The design, construction and sizing are all equally as important.
How do I get it right?
It's simple, you ask a shaper. Using your height, weight, surfing ability and what board you want to ride, a shaper can give you some options on what sort of volume would work for you. A good starting point is; As a rule of thumb an average weight, height and ability surfer looking to ride a standard shortboard would usually divide their weight in kg by 2.5 to get your 'standard' volume. If the surfer is of average height and weight but good ability, you would divide their weight in kg by 2.7. So volume for someone who is 5'10”, 85kg - their volume range for a shortboard would be 31.4 - 34.6 depending on waves, design and what they are looking to achieve in terms of performance versus their ability levels, this only really works as a loose rule of thumb for shortboards, so don't get hung up on it and go talk to your local shapers... they will always see you right (shameless plug).
Does more volume necessarily mean an easier ride?
No it doesn't. More volume can hinder your surfing just as much as too little volume can. Too much volume can make for unresponsive slidey-feeling surfboards that can be hard to control. This comes down to the point above - the right volume for the design of surfboards you are riding is key. This is based on the design and the rider.
Should I be worrying about it?
I think it's good to know yes, so is centre of mass, tail width, rocker curve; the more you know about your boards the more it will help you understand the designs offered by shapers. That can only help your ability to buy the right board and improve your surfing experience.
Is it a reference or Gospel?
It's a reference, just like width, thickness, length, wide-point position, fin position, they are all relevant but volume can be a really useful thing to know.