How to Buy a Used Surfboard

No two ways about it: surfboards are expensive. So expensive, in fact, that most surfers don’t shy away from picking up a used board from time to time, either from a buddy, a surf shop, or online classified listings. And did you know that a used surfboard is the most environmentally responsible board you can buy? After all, it’s recycling.

Yes, buying a second-hand stick is both cheap and green, two rules that most surfers strive to live by. But before you run to your local surf shop or jump into the web classifieds, it’s helpful to educate yourself on the basic rules of used-surfboard buying.

Rule #1: If it Ain’t Broke, It Ain’t Bad

Because you’re not custom-ordering a surfboard, chances are you’re not going to be able to find a board that’s exactly what you want. More important than the board’s exact dimensions is the board’s condition. Don’t waste your money and buy a board that’s already half-water logged or has questionable ding repairs — focus on boards that still have a lot of life in them. Limit your browsing to boards that are still relatively light and free of heavy pressure dings and delamination.

Other red flag damage includes broken fin boxes, buckled boards (even if it has been repaired), and lots of spider cracking. Also be sure to remove all stickers from the board — you never know what’s lurking beneath. The bottom line is that even though you’re not paying top dollar for a new board, you still want a board that works well.

Rule #2: Get a Good Deal

If you’re not getting a good deal, don’t buy it. It just isn’t worth spending money on a used board that’s overpriced well beyond market value. If a board’s condition is in the good-to-excellent range, expect to pay between one-quarter and one-third less than the new price. If it’s in fair-to-good condition, you can get a board for about half of what it would cost new in a shop.

Hot Tip: Barter Down
Like any responsible buyer of used goods, you should always try to talk down your seller. Sure, you could just fork over the asking price, but it won't hurt to see if you can knock down the fare a few pegs. Make an offer below the asking price- you might get a quick sale, especially if you're doing it in person with cash in hand.


Rule #3: Buy Local

Don’t waste your time buying a used board and then paying shipping costs; buy one locally. It’s also not a good idea to commit to purchasing a used board that you haven’t seen in person. A little picture on your computer is not going to show you all the board’s subtleties, from curves to pressure dings.

Rule #4: Buy Out of Season

Like buying a winter parka in the heat of summer, you’ll always get better deals on boards that are out of season.

Of course, boards that are typically ridden year-round — standard shortboards and longboards — won’t really reflect this, but boards like fishes and big-wave guns will always be in demand during the height of summer and winter, respectively. Basic economics says high supply plus low demand equals cheaper prices. Take advantage.

Rule #5: Don’t Dream

Just because there’s a killer deal lurking on the used rack doesn’t mean you should automatically make a purchase. Be realistic about every board you consider buying. Is the board the right size? Does it match your ability? If you’re unsure, talk to a shop employee or bring a knowledgeable friend along to help you out.

Used, Not Abused

If you’re in need of a surfboard, buying something used is often a great idea — for a fraction of the price of a new stick, you can buy a board that works great and doesn’t come with the stress of a major investment. And who knows? Maybe your next treasured board will be another man’s trash.

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