5 Best Small Wave Surfboards for 2023

Daniel Lofaso

If you’re surfing the small stuff you want a board that will allow you to have fun without sacrificing too much performance. That’s why everyone needs a small wave surfboard in their quiver so that when they pull up to the beach on the 1-2’ days, they can still have a bit of a wiggle.

Coming from Florida, I more or less live on my small wave boards. While I could opt for a foam-friendly retro fish, mid-length, or longboard, I generally like to practice test my reflexes and ability to create speed because its good training for bigger waves. I find this holds true for surfers around the world, albeit with slightly better waves than what we have in Florida.

That said, the boards on this list are catered to top to bottom surfing rather than just the ability to get into small waves easily and cruise down the line. Check out these five small wave surfboards next time you’re in the market for a new stick.

Rad Ripper by Lost

The Rad Ripper is from Lost’s “Post Modern Retro” collection of boards, meaning it draws from the shapes and designs from the 80’s that were a bit more user-friendly and good for generating speed on small days. With low entry rocker, a wide tail and generous tail rocker, it’s an ideal board for small, weak wave surfing.

Ultra Joe by Channel Islands

The Ultra Joe by CI is a small wave machine that provides loads of fun in the mushy stuff. It has sort of a hybrid nose, a fat tail, and fairly relaxed entry and exit rocker, making it something of a step up in progression for beginner surfers and an inviting option for cruisy surfing for intermediate to advanced surfers.

Seaside by Firewire

A quad only design, the Seaside is a Rob Machado creation based in part on the popular Go Fish model. Where the Go Fish was skatey and loose, the Seaside is a bit more of a high performance small wave tool. Named after his hometown break Seaside, it’s the sort of an everyday board for everyday waves that can hold its own in more high performance small waves as well.

Flaming Pony by JS

JS calls the Flaming Pony its “most user-friendly super groveller of all-time!” I have to agree. This little pony is built for creating speed and flow in the most gutless of waves while still allowing for maneuvers. I’ve ridden the Flaming Pony in crappy onshore chop, clean peaks, and even some waist-high plus waves and it was hard to go back to a traditional shortboard.

Cherry Peppa by Chilli

The Cherry Peppa by Chilli features a shape that you might come to expect from a small wave groveler. It’s got a wide nose, low rocker, a vee bottom, and fat tail. This all translates to speed and nice rail to rail transitioning. Whether it’s one foot or three, you like thrusters, 2+1’s or quads, this five-fin setup will have you out there no matter what the conditions throw at you.

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