Shortboards | Surfboard Volume Guide

Getting Started

What's Surfboard Volume:

Volume is the amount of area (In litres) contained in a surfboard, calculated by its overall length, width, thickness & foil. Volume is a benefit of computer-assisted shaping.

Volume is the first measurement to look at when choosing what surfboard size to buy. It's the starting point once a surfboard type / model has been decided on. Arguably the most important measurement when choosing a surfboard size as it will eliminate the wrong size boards immediately. For more experienced surfers it is used in context with the other dimensions to create an accurate overall picture of the surfboard suitability. Volume is found in the dimensions options for each surfboard model i.e. 6'0" x 18 3/4" x 2 3/8" - 28.50 ltrs.

Use volume in collaboration with the surfboard type, dimensions & features to give you a very accurate picture of the surfboards performance characteristics.

Click How to choose the right surfboard for more information on this topic.

Low Volume Surfboards:

Meaning a lower volume than your ideal volume range, this is different for each surfer. Low volume is relative to each surfer's weight & surfing ability.

They're more sensitive to the rider's movements & requires an advanced surfer to master. These surfboards need extra effort to generate speed as they sink deeper into the wave face creating extra drag & increases the chance of catching a rail.

The positive trade-off is a highly sensitive rail with more power over the surfboard. Meaning the ability to hold turns in critical parts of the wave, more control in powerful waves.

There is a fine line between a low volume board & an under volume surfboard. The drawbacks of an under volume surfboard are; hard to paddle, unstable & sluggish board speed. It's better to have an over volume surfboard than an under volume surfboard. If unsure of the correct volume always go the bigger dimensions, as you can refine your volume on the next surfboard. It's better than the alternative, not catching waves & having to sell your board straight away or the worst crime of sticking to it, missing out on a lot of waves & fun

High Volume Surfboards:

Meaning a higher volume than your ideal volume range, this is different for each surfer. High volume is relative to each surfer's weight & surfing ability.

They're more relaxed performance & easier to surf. All surfing levels can master a high volume surfboard. They produce more speed without much effort & are more stable. The trade-off for these benefits is a decrease in top end performance (might not be an issue). You will know if the surfboard is holding you back, that comes with experience. High volume surfboard will still have more performance than what most surfers need if longboarders can do airs.

It's up to the surfer to decide what style of surfing they prefer & tailor their buying decision accordingly.

Ideal Volume: 

Ideal volume is an in-depth figure generated by each surfer's individual weight, ability, age, fitness & personal preference. Ideal volume is a very powerful tool as it considers multiple factors unique to each surfer & puts it into a simple figure that can be applied to the buying process.

How to use your Ideal Volume: 

Once you have worked out your Ideal Volume (Process below) you can then use it as a reference when selecting a new board. Example: If your Ideal Volume range is 27 to 28 ltrs you would then search for boards that are within that volume range. 

Why is Ideal Volume Important: 

Your Ideal Volume is a guide to buying the right size surfboard no matter if the board is 7'0'' or 5'0''. Knowing your Ideal Volume increases the chances of you buying a great board, positively affecting the following performance characteristics to your needs:

  • Performance
  • Paddle Power
  • Stability
  • Control
  • Pivot
  • Speed, Drive & Glide

If your riding a surfboard that isn't in your ideal volume range than these important characteristics are negatively effected.   

Calculate your Ideal Shortboard Volume

Follow the steps below to calculate your ideal volume:

Step 1: 

Identify your surfing level, use the descriptions below.

  • Advance + Elite & strong surfers linking multiple, critical manoeuvres with excellent power, speed & control | 80% to 90%+ manoeuvre completion (average) | 9/10 realistic waves you paddle for & catch
  • Advance Surfers linking multiple manoeuvres consistently with good power, speed & control | 70% to 80% manoeuvre completion | 8/10 realistic waves you paddle for & catch.
  • Intermediate / Advance Surfers linking small multiple manoeuvres with less consistently, reasonable power, speed & control | 60% to 70% manoeuvre completion | 7/10 realistic waves you paddle for & catch.
  • Intermediate Progressive surfers competently trimming on the wave face & developing small manoeuvres with limited consistently, power, speed & control | 50% to 60% manoeuvre completion | 6/10 realistic waves you paddle for & catch.
  • Beginner First time & part time surfers performing at a basic level catching white water & small unbroken waves. 

Click for more info Surfing Level

Example: Advance + Surfing Level

Step 2:

This Ideal Volume table will assist you with your starting volume. Match your ability level with your weight. Use this figure with the next step 

Shortboard Buyers Guide (Ideal Volume) in litres

Weight (Kg)Advance +AdvanceInter. / AdvIntermediateBeginner
35 & Under 15.05 15.75 16.80  21.00  25.90 
40 16.40 17.20 18.80  23.60  29.20 
45 18.00 18.90 20.70  26.10  32.40 
50 19.00 20.50 22.50  28.50  35.50 
55 19.80 21.45 23.65  30.25  37.95 
60 21.00 22.80 25.20  32.40  40.80 
65 22.75 24.70 27.30  35.10  44.20 
70 24.50 26.60 29.40  37.80  47.60 
75 26.25 28.50  31.50  40.50  51.00 
80 28.00 30.40 33.60  43.20  54.40 
85 29.75 32.30  35.70  45.90  57.80 
90 31.50 34.20 37.80  48.60  61.20 
95 33.25 36.10  39.90  51.30  64.60 
100 35.00 38.00  42.00  54.00  68.00 
105 36.75 39.90  44.10  56.70  71.40 
110 38.50 41.80  46.20  59.40  74.80 

Example: 77kg + Advance + = 27 ltrs

Step 3:

Using your Ideal Volume figure from the table, multiple it by the appropriate age Factor.

0 - 30 Add 0% (0.00)
31 - 50 Add 8% (1.08)
51 - 60 Add 20% (1.20)
61+ Add 30% (1.30)

Example: Age under 31.  27 x 0.0 (0%) = 27 ltrs - Ideal Volume stays at 27 ltrs

Step 4:

Using your Ideal Volume Figure, multiple it by the appropriate fitness factor.

Fitness Factor (Averaged out over a month)

Excellent - Surfing 4 times per week or other training 4 times per week Add 0% (0.00)
GoodSurfing 3 times per week or other training 3 times per week Add 5% (1.05)
AverageSurfing 2 times per week or other training 2 times per week Add 10% (1.10)
PoorSurfing 1 times per week or other training 1 times per week Add 20% (1.20)

Example: Fitness Good - 27 x 1.05 = 28.35 ltrs 

Step 5:

Use your Ideal Volume figure to calculate your range 

This final figure can now be converted into a meaningful Ideal Volume Range.

  • Performance surfboard Volume Range: Within 5% of your Ideal Volume 
  • Fish / Grovel surfboard Volume Range: Add 5% & then within 5% of this figure

The reason for a slightly different volume range for Fish / Grovel boards is you need extra float in sloppy wave conditions. Extra volume will help the board sit on top of the water. Therefore increase paddle power & it's planning speed which is key when surfing sloppy weak wave conditions. 


  • Performance surfboard Volume Range: 27.00 to 29.75 ltrs  (Starting Volume 28.35 ltrs)
  • Fish / Grovel surfboard Volume Range: 28.35 to 31.25 ltrs  (Starting volume 29.75 ltrs)

Step 6:

Personalising your Ideal Volume

The final Ideal Volume range will give you a great starting point to begin your personal board buying formula. 

Everyone has a different body size (Weight & Height) & surfing ability so using your ideal volume is a great way to build a personal formula for choosing great boards.

Your ideal volume can only be judged by yourself (Or Coach) & your personal preferences.

Example of personalising your Ideal Volume: I'm on the low volume side for an advance + surfer of this weight but I prefer the extra performance a lower volume board gives me.

I also have chicken legs so a lower volume board is easier to bury into the wave face & man handle the board. The drawbacks are reduced paddle power & when I'm not to steady on my feet these boards aren't very unforgiving (catching rails).


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