Last but not least, what if your are new to surfing? Where do you start? Let me say this. If you shop for clothes at pacsun, hollister, or abercrombie and you surf for their team then go buy a brand new board with sick art work on it, get some 175 dollar fins, slap a fancy traction pad on the back and head on down to the most crowded street on the first big day in November! For the people that think this is not a good idea, your within good reason. What I recommend in three words is paddling, simple, soft!
If you want to have success with surfing you have to paddle fast and catch waves. Riding a short board will not help you achieve this and this should be all new surfers "primary goal". Get a thick board that has some length. You don't have to buy a longboard, but I would recommend it to start off. When I surf with some friends on a small summer day, why is it that everyone steals my soft longboards and takes off down the beach with them? It is because they can catch more waves. A fun shape could also do the job.
If you are new to surfing you don't want to be fixing dings, upgrading fin systems, asking questions and spending time buying a board that you understand nothing about. Keep it simple. Walk in a shop, ask them what are three good boards for some who can not surf, and buy the biggest one. Trust me, size does matter!
I bought this board under my feet for 3 reasons. 1. It floats excellent for those slow or mushy days! 2. It's a quad. This will give me a little extra speed on waves that a thruster might sink out on me. 3. When I surf a place that has clowns all over the place, I need something durable and that allows me to out paddle the goons. It's a Surf-tech Stretch Quad. 6'4" x 2 & 7/8" thick x 21.65" wide with a flat rocker!
A lot of the local shops sell soft models for high performance, fish and retro shapes, long boards, fun shapes and I have even ridden SUP's that are soft - they work awesome. In fact, I would rather have a soft tech model in the small summer time surf because of the fact that I can bang the board up. You can leave it in the car, drop it on the concrete and even let a kook use it with out any worries.
I can not tell you how much fun a surfer can have on a soft surf board. There are at least 20 companies offering models specifically for short board rippers, old fat guys, teen girls and even SUP's. You can let your guard down on these soft tech models and even knee paddle longer models with ease for training. You can pull into shore break and not get injured. They are more buoyant which mean more float and faster paddling! They are simple and never need fixing! I always leave one in my car in the summer for the little surf that can sneak up on me. If your learning how to pull into some tubes, there is less consequence to you and your board. And last but not least, they are less expensive and will outlast your traditional surfboard! Paddle faster and catch more waves. Keep it simple and spend more time in the water.