Whether you are a surfing novice or a seasoned wave ripper, you will need the right surfboard to shred some gnar. This is especially true if you are new to the sport and want to enjoy the experience of standing up on a wave quickly.
When I was starting to surf, I was having a lot of trouble finding the perfect beginner surfboard. Like most newbies, I wanted to surf on one of the hand-shaped epoxy boards favored by the pros. However, I quickly realized that these boards did not offer beginners much maneuverability or speed, especially when just starting out. Also, I quickly found out that getting hit by a surfboard hurts. Therefore, I made it a personal mission to find the perfect soft-top surfboard that would provide a stable ride, even for wobbly beginners.
On one of my first sessions, I went out with a couple of friends who brought both their Wavestorm boards (a popular choice for beginners, check out our full review of the Wavestorm here) as well as an 8′ South Bay surfboard. After trying both models, I fell in love with riding the South Bay Soft Top Surfboard, and ordered one as soon as I got home.
- Features to Consider
- South Bay’s Soft Top Surfboard: a Deep Dive
- Stacking up the Competition
- Maintenance and FAQs
- How long is the South Bay surfboard?
- Can I mount a GoPro on my South Bay surfboard?
- Do I need to wax my South Bay board?
- How do I repair my South Bay board?
- Final Thoughts and Where to Buy
Features to Consider
Soft top surfboards are specially engineered to allow beginners to learn quickly and easily. They are fashioned to be buoyant as possible, allowing you to catch your first wave much faster. In addition, they are not as heavy and pose a smaller risk of injury.
Foam surfboards are also less expensive than standard hand-shaped models. This is a great benefit because as a beginner, you are likely to bang your board around a lot. You definitely do not want to be spending a lot of money on a board that is inevitably going to get scratched and scuffed.
When picking out a soft top surfboard, you’ll want to consider these 3 features:
- Size. The South Bay soft top is available in 3 different lengths: 7′, 8′, and 8’8″. Use our size charts to find the perfect length for your height and weight.
- Accessories. In addition to your surfboard, you’re going to need a leash and fins. Luckily, South Bay’s board comes with these so you’re ready to hit the water immediately.
- Warranty. South Bay excels in this department, we cover this later in the article, but they sent me a new leash overnight after I broke mine (totally my fault). At no cost! Where do you find a company doing that anymore.
South Bay’s Soft Top Surfboard: a Deep Dive
Construction and Durability
South Bay’s board is specifically designed with beginners in mind. It features slight entry and exit rockers with a relatively flat center section. The flat section allows you to maintain your speed on the board, while the front entry rocker keeps the nose of your board out of the water. When paddling, this keeps your board from “nose-diving,” giving you extra time to stand up and get situated on your board. The slightly curved exit rocker gives the board a lot of release, allowing for added smoothness and easy transitions. This allows the board to flow nice and fluidly throughout the entire wave. The slightly squashed tail on the back of this board also includes a rubber bumper, allowing for easy, safe, vertical storage.
The fingerprint foam texture on the top of the deck allows you to surf without the need for wax. This allows the board to stay much cleaner over time, and allows for extra traction while surfing. The added traction makes it much easier to stand up on your board, as it keeps you from slipping around. Honestly, it just feels great too. I can ride all day on my South Bay without getting dreaded nipple chafe.
The top deck also includes a lead plug screw, an SGS camera mount, and a heat release plug. This plug allows you to release heat from the inside of the board, allowing for extra durability and a much longer lifetime. Finally, the top deck also features South Bay’s rubber die-cut logo. This makes it nonslip and keeps it from wearing off due to friction. Because of this, your board will stay looking fresh even after extended use.
The bottom deck of this surfboard allows for a diamond reinforced, hatched texture. This allows any direct impacts to be evenly distributed across the board. This is important because it increases the lifespan of your board and increases its durability. The bottom of the board also features a two concave sections, allowing the water to easily flow over the fins and increase the performance of the board.
The Included Fins and Leash
Even though these fins are made of plastic, they are very strong and sturdy. The tips of the fins are also rounded, allowing for added safety. This decreases the risk of you slicing yourself when you wipe out, and protects any unsuspecting swimmers as well. This allows you to stay safe while still having a lot of fun.
The fins also come with (3) two inch screws, (2) two and a half-inch screws, and (1) half-inch leash plug screw. The longer screws allow for added sturdiness, allowing for strong and reliable fins.
One of my favorite features of these fins is that they are tightened with a simple groove you can slot a quarter (or anything else sturdy) into. You don’t need any special tools, and can tighten down your fins easily before you hop in the water if they get loose.
This board also comes with a leash, so you’ll have everything you need to go ride some waves as soon as it arrives.
Customer Service and Warranty
I can’t say enough good things about South Bay’s customer service. I stupidly took my South Bay board out during an extremely low tide day, and crashed right into a kelp bed. The momentum threw me off the board, instantly snapping the leash. I really shouldn’t have been out in the water that day.
When I got back from the beach, I e-mailed South Bay’s support asking to buy a new leash. To my surprise, they sent me one overnight for free!
It’s not often you see a company that is so committed to their products, South Bay really stands behind their boards.
Stacking up the Competition
By now, I’ve taken most of the popular brands’ boards out (we have a full guide for all of the best soft top surfboards), and I have a clear idea of how South Bay’s soft top surfboard stacks up against the competition.
South Bay vs Wavestorm
The Wavestorm Soft Top is very buoyant and stable, and is probably the most popular board you’ll see at a beginner break (check out our full breakdown of the Wavestorm). Like South Bay’s surfboard, wax is not required for this board, although some riders do swear by waxing their Wavestorm.
- The South Bay board is a lot more stylish, and it will be less obvious if you’re a newbie.
- I personally like the “fingerprint deck” surface of the South Bay a lot better.
- South Bay’s warranty and customer service is much more responsive.
- South Bay’s board is slightly pricier than the Wavestorm.
South Bay vs Boardworks Froth
The Boardworks Froth
- South Bay’s board doesn’t require any wax
- The South Bay soft top is more beginner-friendly (the Boardworks Froth is a bit more aggressively shaped for intermediate riders).
- Boardworks makes a truly beautiful, minimalist board
- Boardworks sometimes runs some great deals on their boards, you can occasionally find a real steal
Maintenance and FAQs
Here you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about South Bay’s soft top boards.
How long is the South Bay surfboard?
South Bay offers their board in 3 sizes:
- 7′ Ruccus
- 8′ Verve
- 8’8″ Heritage
Beginner (and heavier) riders will appreciate the extra float on the longer Verve and Heritage boards. Check out our surfboard size charts to see what size will be best for you.
Can I mount a GoPro on my South Bay surfboard?
Yes! This board has an integrated camera mount on the nose. The angle is perfect for documenting your rides. You’ll need a GoPro attachment to connect it, we recommend this very affordable bundle:
- Ultimate Compatibility: Compatible with most action cameras, including GoPro Hero9...
- Straps for Head, Chest & Helmet: Designed for all head sizes and body shapes, the...
- Wrist Strap & Floating Handle Grip: The wrist strap with a 360° rotatable mount is...
- Handlebar Mount & Suction Cup: Handlebar mount fits bars of 0.75”–1.4”...
- Flexible Tripod & Selfie Stick: Flexible tripod can wrap around objects and stand...
Do I need to wax my South Bay board?
Nope! It comes with a textured “fingerprint”-like surface that is extra grippy and does not need wax. While some riders do end up applying wax to their soft top surfboards (Wavestorm, I’m looking at you), honestly I wouldn’t even be tempted to wax my South Bay. It’s plenty of grippy even after a ton of time in the ocean.
How do I repair my South Bay board?
First off – I’d recommend getting in touch with their customer service, as they are super responsive and really care about treating their customers well. Aside from that, I recommend this Ding All kit, which comes with a variety of surfboard repair accessories:
- THE ORIGINAL POLYESTER SANDING RESIN: Ding All Polyester Resin contains Silmar brand...
- LARGER SURFBOARD REPAIRS KIT: Purposed for larger polyester ding repairs, this kit...
- ALLOWS EASY SANDING: This resin is non tacky and dries smooth providing the user an...
- A COMPLETE REPAIR KIT: This MADE IN USA kit come with 4oz. sanding resin plus...
- BONUS SUN CURE RESIN: If smaller dings are being fixed, the kit comes complete with...
Final Thoughts and Where to Buy
All in all, the South Bay Soft Top Surfboard is a great board for beginners with a lot of added features. This board provides a sturdy ride for a wide range of surfers, from small children up to larger riders (I weigh 195lb and it floats excellently).
The curved entry and exit rockers of this board give you extra time to stand up and get situated on your board, while the flat middle section allows for added and maintained speed. Finally, the fingerprint textured surf deck allow for traction all across the board, allowing beginners to get their footing without slipping. If you are looking for a sturdy, lightweight, fun, and easy to use soft top surfboard, I highly recommend the South Bay. You can pick up your South Bay surfboard at Amazon here:
- BEST BEGINNER SURFBOARDS: SBBC offers the best beginner surfboards for kids and...
- SURFBOARD DIMENSIONS & RECOMMENDED RIDER WEIGHT: The 7’ Ruccus Foam Surfboard is...
- EASY & INCREDIBLY FUN SHAPES TO SURF: Rounded out Nose for extra float with nose...
- CUSTOM DESIGNED WITH DURABLE MATERIALS: Patented heat release valve to prevent...
- PREMIER, HONEST HUMAN CUSTOMER SERVICE: South Bay Board Co. has the fastest shipping...