Coco Ho, not the most heavy-footed surfer out in the lineup, holding her 5’6″ x 17.94 x 2.11, shaped by Matt Biolos.
If you’re a woman (or a lightweight man) who rides high-performance shortboards, scouring the racks of surf shops for a suitable stick can be a real pain. Depending on your height and weight, you may find yourself too big to ride grom-sized boards and far too small to ride the standard dims sold in stores. Since I unfortunately fall in that awkward size range, I called Matt Biolos, who works with Coco Ho, Tyler Wright, Malia Manuel, Alessa Quizon and 3x-World-Champion Carissa Moore, to talk about how he shapes boards for female rippers.
So why is it so difficult for some women to find high-performance boards off the racks?
I think the problem with some girls finding boards in stores is similar to the problem groms have. Surf shops make a low profit margin off of surfboards, so they stock their inventory with the most popular sizes, like 5’10”s. A 5’10” is too big for most young women surfers in general. Even the stronger girls like Carissa Moore ride a 5’8”. But smaller girls, like Coco Ho, Malia Manuel or Alessa Quizon ride 5’5”s and 5’6”s. Shops don’t invest in that size of inventory, which makes it difficult for some women.
So if a woman is looking to get a board shaped, what design elements should she be looking for?
Design-wise, I don’t think there’s much difference between men’s and women’s high-performance boards. Honestly, Carissa and Kolohe Andino’s boards are almost interchangeable, with about a liter and a half of difference. Carissa is one of the most mechanically sound surfers on the planet, regardless of gender. But in general, there are a few general differences. The major difference is the proportion of the size and volume of the board in comparison to the bodyweight and size of the girl.
Meaning the overall dimensions are usually decreased for smaller women?
I was talking to Darren Handley about this awhile go. Sometimes as shapers, we look at women we’re working with and we want to make them a bigger board, but they really don’t need more foam. Women can ride pretty small, light boards. They’re usually not as strong as men, so they need a little board that they can whip around and turn.