10 Things You Need To Know When Buying A Surfboard Off eBay

Are you a newbie buying a second hand board for the first time? We've got some handy advice for you...

eBay is frickin’ great, but it can be addictive…. Photo:

You’re looking to buy your first surfboard, but you don’t want to pay too much money. So, what do you do? Head towards eBay, of course.

Buying your first surfboard on eBay can be a minefield. Quite literally. Some of these will sink beneath your feet before you have a chance to catch a single wave.

“Buying your first surfboard on eBay can be a minefield. Quite literally.”

Generally, it’s better to buy second-hand boards in a shop where you can get the full advice from the store owners. However, there are some stonkingly good deals to be found on eBay, if you’re lucky.

Here are a few things to bear in mind while you’re clicking through those listings.

This advice is very much aimed as beginners looking to buy their first board. If you’re more intermediate level, then this more general article may be more helpful.

1) Buy a longboard

Last week, I overheard a shop assistant explaining to a first-time buyer what board she should go for. “Most shops recommend going for a mini mal, but personally I think beginners should go for a longboard instead…”

Damn straight. Why shops always insist on pushing mini mals on beginners is beyond me.

As a fully-grown beginner adult, if you want to catch more waves (and ultimately have more fun), you’re much better off buying a 9ft longboard with a lot more volume and stability than a 7ft 5″ mini mal that could end up hindering your love for the sport.

After all, there’s a reason there are so many mini mals floating around online…

First timers: this shortboard looks wicked, but alarm bells should be going off right now…

2) Don’t buy a shortboard

Just to re-emphasise point one, don’t buy a shortboard. Yes, they look cool and they’re easy to carry under one arm. But when you’re the dick who can’t waves in the whitewater, let alone out back, then you’ll see the true meaning behind point number one.

I spend months and months battling with a board that was too short for me. I’m a 5ft 2″ girl – and I still prefer a 9ft board. So bear this in mind if you’re a 6ft 2″ bloke.

3) Surfboards are made from all kinds of materials

There are so many to choose from – where do you start?

If you’re just starting out, then foam or epoxy is ideal because you don’t want a big ass fibreglass beast knocking you on the noggin’ when you wipe out the first few times.

Moulded boards are factory made, while custom boards are exactly what they sound like – handmade by a shaper for the owner. Moulded boards are often a good place to start, so it doesn’t matter as much if you bash it around.

4) Volume is very, very important

The more volume a board has, the easier it is for you to pop up and ride a wave when you’re learning. Longboards and foamies have a lot of buoyancy while shortboards generally don’t.

Blogger Newquay Surfer has some excellent tips on this matter. He suggests buying a first board with at least 60+ litre volume (pros like Kelly Slater would have a 24 litre board).

When it comes to width, 20 to 24 inches is about right. Thickness wise, a 2.5 to 3 inch thick board should work fine.

Winning at life if you get all this included (not at all guaranteed)

5) Does it come with fins, a leash and board bag?

It’s always nice when an owner throws in a few of these extras with the final price, but they won’t always. You’re definitely going to need a leash and board bag if not.

The general rule with leashes is buy one that matches the length of your board. So, if you’re going for a 9ft board, get a 9ft leash.

Surfing Waves recommend beginners to get a leash that’s at least a foot longer than their board – so it’s totally up to you.

Fin wise, we can get into very technical waters here – but as a beginner, a tri fin setup will be totally fine – it’s both manoeuvrable and stable.

6) Check for dings and cracks

Dings are essentially holes or dents to a surfboard. If there are a few but they’ve been repaired properly, then that’s acceptable.

Sometimes you might find pressure marks on an old board, they look like small thumb imprints. These are generally fine as long as they don’t impact the structure of the board too much.

If you find badly repaired dings and there’s signs of yellow discolouration around the area, it’s probably water logged and is therefore ready for the scrap heap.

Yeah, this baby is not in a good way… Photo:

7) Make sure the owner has scraped off all the wax before you hand over your money

A thick coating of wax can cover all manner of sins when it comes to surfboards. Hiding dodgy repairs with wax is a classic.

If they won’t scrape it, the chances are they are trying to rip you off, so don’t buy it.

8) If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is

Found a wicked board for a tenner? Then there’s something likely to be something wrong with it.

For a decent second-hand longboard, you’re looking at £150 to 250+.  If you’ve opted for the foamie option, then £100 sounds about right for a decent, well-maintained board.

9) Pick it up in person

It’s best to choose a board which is within easy reaching distance of your house. You won’t thank yourself if you end up buying a board that’s currently in the Outer Hebrides and you live in Devon.

It’s also a good idea to arrange to pay cash in hand, so you can check it out before you hand over the final sum.

Otherwise known as the ‘douchemobile’… Photo:

10) Check it will fit in your car

It make sound like a dumb thing to point out, but it happens to the best of us.

Anything under 7ft will should fit in a small car with the passenger seats down, but you can’t guarantee it. Buy yourself a set of roof racks – you’ll need them to get your board down to the beach in the future anyway.

Otherwise, you’ll end up looking like this muppet above!


If you want a bit more advice, this is an excellent blog post from Newquay Surfer weighing up the pros and cons of different boards.

Ben from Wavetools Surf Shop also wrote a piece for eBay here with some advice on second-hand buying.


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