Surfboards are not one size fits all. If you're a beginner, a desk-bound weekend warrior, a larger person, or maybe you've just packed on a few more pounds than you'd like to admit, look for a board that's a little wider and thicker. That extra foam and width will provide added buoyancy to get you to your feet more quickly and easily.
While some girthier boards lack performance, this new eight-foot-long J.Blair Big Guy gives you the float you need without sacrificing speed and maneuverability. The board, hand-shaped by Southern California shaping guru Joe Blair (who honed his craft in the 1970s in Hawaii shaping with icons like Dick Brewer and Simon Anderson) melds the stability and glide of a longboard with the maneuverability of a much shorter surfboard.
At 25.5 inches wide and 3.75 inches thick, this board enabled our testers to easily paddle into everything from overhead waves to even the smallest and most gutless breakers. Meanwhile, the crazy-fast single to double barrel concave bottom had us flying down the line while the quad setup (four fins) helped us to snap tight turns – something you'd be hard pressed to do on a conventional longboard.
Best of all, since each board is custom shaped, Blair can dial in the exact board size and dimensions to ideally suit your body type, skill level, and the waves where you'll be surfing most often. Simply put: With a board like this you'll spend less time floundering and more time having fun. [$635-$765; jblairsurf.com]