Surfboards, a bit like cars, lose value as soon as they leave the showroom. What that means is that in when you buy a used surfboard you can pick up a real bargain, just by it having been waxed up and having a couple of footmarks in the deck.
Buying a used surfboard can either be an ideal way to get a deal on a good board, or it can be a complete waste of some hard earned money. Whether you’re buying a board from a surf shop, a friend, or some random garage sale, there are some key things you need to know so you don’t buy a total heap that’s going to fall apart in a month.
Boards are like cars, drive them off the lot and the value goes down. Buyers should always looks for a bargain by comparing to other comparable used board pricing and retail. The discount should be fair based on the condition of the board. You can get a good idea of prices just by browsing the site and checking the user rating.
There are basically two categories of dings: fixed and not fixed. If a ding is fixed, it’s all about the quality of the repair. If it’s a shoddy repair job, it’s just as bad as an open ding or potentially worse because it can trap water in. A good fix should be flush with the board, have no rough spots, and no cracks or yellow spots where water might be getting in. If it’s colored to match an airbrush, how well does it match? All these are indications about the quality of the ding repair and how long it will hold up.
As far as open dings, it pays to know how much it would cost to fix ‘em. Also consider the fact that if someone is selling a board with open dings, it probably means they’re in a hurry to sell the board, or they’re kinda lazy. Either way, it puts you in a better bargaining position. After all, there’s a built-in inconvenience fee above the cost of fixing a ding if you have to do repairs to a board after buying it.
The Buckle Test
The number one thing that’ll ruin your day is buying a board that has a buckle. Buckled and broken boards can be fixed and can sometimes be stronger than before, but you need to make sure it’s a good repair. How can you tell if a board’s jacked up or fixed up? “Push on the board right in the middle with the palm of your hand,” advises Dominick Dimaggio, manager at South Coast Windansea in Pacific Beach, California, which has a giant used-board inventory. “If you feel it or see any bubbles come up on the stringer, you’ll know that you’ve got either a big or slight buckle.” If it’s just a crease in the glass, it’s a fairly minor fix. But if the blank or stringer is cracked, that’s a major repair and you’ll be rolling the dice on whether the board will ever ride the same after it’s fixed. A word of caution though, make sure you get the okay before trying the buckle test, or have the shop employee do it.
A broken nose isn’t always a bad thing, especially if it’s within the first twelve inches of the top of the board. Sure, a fixed nose can look funky, but if the repair matches the angle of the board’s original rocker, it usually won’t affect the way it rides. It’s a good option for someone who’s looking for a deal on a board, just make sure the repair is quality.
Sometimes stress cracks around fins or cracks in fin plugs are minor. Other times, they can really affect how a board rides. If the area is brownish, there’s discoloration, or the cracks look like they’re taking in water, you’ll want to steer clear. If it’s more minor, it’ll likely be fine for a little while, although you’ll want to get it fixed if you plan on keeping the board for any length of time.
Tail cancer is a major bitch and should be avoided in a used board. It’s when there’s a crack or ding on the rail of the tail of a board. Stay away from tail cancer-it’s the one thing that’s nearly impossible to fix permanently and usually ends up cracking again.
Delamination is when the fiberglass separates from the blank, creating an air bubble, and usually occurs under areas on the deck that get heavy foot pressure. If only a very small area is delaming, it’s more of a cosmetic problem. But once it spreads, it’s likely to start taking in water and can make a board more prone to breaking. It can be fixed, but it’s typically expensive, so if you’re gonna buy a board with delam maake sure the cost of the repair is factored into the price.
Most shops will clean their used boards up before they hit the racks, but if you’re buying from the general public, make sure to peel up any stickers and clean off the wax to get a full picture of the board’s health. You never know what sort of disaster could be lurking under a well-placed sticker. And if there’s anything suspect underneath the tail pad, take that off, too.
There are lots of reasons a pro will sell a board. Sometimes they have too many boards to take with them, other times they might not have liked it. But even if they didn’t like a board, they’re the pickiest guys in the world, and whatever they might not have liked you probably will never notice unless it’s a real dog. One thing to keep in mind most pros get their boards glassed very light and it might be more fragile than a typical board.
The condition the surfboard is in will dictate the price. Loosely speaking, average used boards in fair condition should sell for just over half the price of the same surfboard brand new (more for better, less for worse condition).
Has it got a lot of dings? Are they open dings, leaking water, or mere pressure dints? It will have some of one or other, or both, for sure. Open dings should have been fixed but if they’re not, you can save money by knocking the price down and fixing em yourself.
If it has so many pressure dings that the deck is concave, the glass is probably ultra light and the the board may not last very long. Worth thinking about.
Likewise, if it is yellower than a chain-smoking granny’s teeth, its best sessions may well be behind it.
What Lies Beneath
Is there an enormous sticker somewhere? Any stickers on/around rails should make you suspicious. They are almost certainly covering dings.
Also watch for sprays over the glass. You can feel if a surfboard has been sprayed after glassing (as opposed to the shaped blank sprayed, then glassed in the factory), they feel rougher than a usual finish. You might see in places like Bali, and almost certainly the board has been snapped and repaired.
Sources: surf.transworld.net / surfeuropemag.com