If you're new to the sport, then you should
start off with some sort of "mini mal"
shaped board. These come in a variety of forms
and the Soft Top is probably the most ideal
board to start on. In fact all BSA approved
surf schools have to use them for their surf
lessons, as standard.
Effectively they're heavier than a traditional
custom board and therefore serve a limited purpose
as progression with them is limited. But to
get going (for the first time particularly),
then they're ideal. Like custom minimals they're
geared up for catching waves and provide superb
stability when trying to stand up. They have
the added benefit of having the soft deck which
reduces the risk of accidents.
Soft Tops are ideal for first timers, but if
you're serious about getting your own board
then perhaps a slightly more progressive board
would be more suitable. Soft Tops are fairly
hard to turn and lack any real control compared
to custom boards, they're also fairly heavy.
This is why you wont see nearly as many Soft
Tops for sale new or second hand, as you will
compared to a custom shapd board.
However, for youngsters (under 12's in particular)
they're possibly the best "learn to surf"
choice as they're the most user friendly, due
to their soft deck.