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how to setup your new surfboard guide surf tips

How To Setup Your NEW Surfboard – Fins, Leash, Tailpad & Wax!

Buying a new surfboard and want to know to setup your surfboard? Here’s everything you need to know – inc fins, leash, tailpad and the perfect wax job!

If you’re in the process of buying a new surfboard – especially for the first time – things can be a bit overwhelming, there’s so much awesome gear out there and figuring out how to setup your new surfboard can be a bit of a challenge!

So to help make sure you pick up the right kit and get everything setup correctly here’s my full guide to setting up your new surfboard – including fins, leash, tailpad and wax!

And for heaps of extra handy tips – including what fins to buy, which leash to grab and the best wax to choose make sure you watch the full video guide too.

How To Setup Your New Surfboard


Do I Need A Tailpad?

Tailpads are usually found on boards under 6’4, but to be honest it’s really down to personal choice. I know longboards who have tailpads on their boards and people on shortboards who don’t on theirs!

Which Tailpad To Choose

When it comes to choosing a tailpad you’re pretty spoilt for choice as there’s a massive range of companies, styles and colours to choose from. A lot of this will come down to personal preference rather than performance but some things to keep in mind;

  1. Tailpad shape – match it up with your board width and tail shape
  2. Arch – do you want a raided foot arch or flat profile?
  3. Kicker – do you want a big kicker at the back or something more low profile?
  4. Style and design – match it up with your board and own style!



Attaching Your Tailpad

how to setup your new surfboard guide surf tipsInstalling your tailpad properly takes a little bit of preparation and patience – but trust me, taking the extra care on the first go will mean you don’t have any issues with it peeling off later on, so do it properly!

  1. Make sure you board is clean and de-waxed
  2. Double check this with a quick wipe of methylated spirits
  3. Line up your tail pad as close to the end of the board/leash plug as possible
  4. Once you’ve got the right position mark the corners with a pencil (lightly!)
  5. Peel the adhesive wrapper back halfway on the centre piece
  6. Lineup the centre piece from the front (so it doesn’t stick straight away!)
  7. Once it’s lined up, press down on the back of the tailpad
  8. Slowly work your way up towards the front, squeezing out any air bubbled and peeling off the rest of the backing
  9. Repeat with both side panels – which you can either place flush or slightly spread from the centre one
  10. Leave for 24 hours before surfing (ideally!)



How To Put On Surfboard Fins

FCS2 or Futures?

The first big decision you’ll need to make is if you want to go with FCS2 or Future fins – although you might have already made the choice when buying your surfboard or ordering your first custom surfboard!

FCS2 is a new screwless system from FCS and allow you to easily (well somewhat easily!) pop the fins in and out of your surfboard. Futures on the other hand clip into the board but require a single screw at the front to secure the fin.

To be honest you aren’t going to go wrong with either fin system and there are a huge variety of fins shapes, sizes and colours available in both options.

FCS2 Installation

how to setup your new surfboard guide surf tipsFCS2 fins are relatively simple to install;

  1. Make sure the fin box is clear from dirt/sand
  2. Insert the FRONT notch into the fin box and wiggle it right to the front
  3. Gently pivot the fin so the back fin plug is now also lineup up
  4. Apply pressure on the back of the fin until it click into place

A couple of quick tips here to for the best results;

  • Use a towel/tshirt over the top of the fin to protect you hand when applying pressure
  • Install the fins on the soft, clean surface to avoid dings to the board
  • Done apply too much pressure when holding the rail of the board so you don’t ding it!



Futures Installation

how to setup your new surfboard guide surf tips

Although Futures fins require a screw to secure the fin into the fin box, overall the Futures fins system is actually a bit easier (and safer!) to sort out;

  1. Make sure the fin box is clear from dirt/sand
  2. Unscrew the front bolt until there’s non protruding into the fin box
  3. Insert the notch on the BACK of the fin into the fin box
  4. Insert the rest of the fin into the box, making sure it’s all flush
  5. Tighten up the screw until it “bites” the fin


Surfboard Leash

Which Leash To Choose

When it comes to choosing a surfboard leash there are huge variety of styles and brands. Personally I love the Creatures or Leisure leashes – they’re comfortable, reliable and also come with a 2 year warranty too.

With the Creatures range (and most other leash brands) there are generally 3 leash types to choose from

  • Light = 5mm thick, least amount of drag, but not as strong.
  • Comp – 6mm thick, balance of strength and performance (most recommended option)
  • Pro = 7mm thick, ideal for bigger waves or bigger boards, strong but lots of drag

You also need to make sure you choose the right size leash for your board. Generally speaking, you’ll want to an 8 foot leash for an 8 foot board, 7 foot for a 7 foot board and anything under 6 foot a 6 foot leash – rounding up/down as needed.

Longboards also have the option for either ankle or calf leashes. Personally I find calf leashes much more comfortable for logging with and once you start walking up and down the board they’re certainly the better option.

Attaching you Leash

how to setup your new surfboard guide surf tipsWhen attaching your leash to your new board you need to firstly make sure the leash string is the right length. Basically you don’t want it overlapping the rail of the board as this can result in some pressure nasty dings and even slices!

After tying a solid knot in the leash string loop it through the leash plug on your board – then thread the end of the leash through both loops for even more security and strength.

  1. Gauge the right leash string length
  2. Secure with a solid knot
  3. Loop through your leash plugh
  4. Thread the leash through both loops
  5. Secure the velcro securely



Waxing Your Surfboard

how to setup your new surfboard guide surf tipsWhen it comes to making your surfboard look it’s best nothing can make or break it more than the wax job!

So whether you’re waxing up a factory fresh board or simply want to tidy up your favourite stick here’s a few easy tips on how to wax your surfboard perfectly everytime…

  1. Using the edge of the wax block, draw lines at a 45 degree angle from the rail to the stringer
  2. Go all the way from the tail pad to 3/4 of the way up the board
  3. Repeat in the opposite direction to create a cross hatch effect
  4. Repeat on the other side of the board
  5. Slowly start building up the bumps using a circular motion
  6. Don’t press to hard, otherwise you’ll smear the wax around
  7. Build it up gradually and you’ll start seeing little bumps appear
  8. Keep going until it’s all nicely waxed up!

For my more in depth guide and video tutorial on waxing your surfboard click here.

Any questions about setting up your new surfboard?

Not sure what kit to buy?

Ask away in the comments! 

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