Picking the right surfskate brand takes time and effort.
When you choose a surfskate, it’s not like you’re choosing a normal skateboard or longboard. What you’re looking for is a surfskate specific to your skating needs.
For some people, that may be SmoothStar, one of the most popular surfskate brands in the world. And for others, it may not be.
So to help with deciding what the best surfskate is for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best SmoothStar alternatives.
We’ll cover the top surfskate brands on the market, explain what makes SmoothStar unique in its own right, and provide in-depth information on what you should look for in a surfskate board.
What makes SmoothStar unique?
Smoothstar is an Australian-based surfskate company that has been around since 2004. Their surfskates are marketed as the best boards for surf training.
Two notable surfers, Johanne Defay and Filipe Toledo, train with SmoothStar products. Each with their own models.
SmoothStar places high value on its name as the ultimate surf trainer. They were one of the first surfskate companies to introduce the Thruster. However, due to several negative reports of custom-made decks that used their Thrusters on other designs, they decided to no longer sell them separately.
So if you’re looking for just a SmoothStar adapter, know that you’ll have to purchase a full board. Also, if you decide to disassemble your SmoothStar board to place its adapter onto another surfskate, you run the risk of voiding the warranty.
Now that that’s covered, let’s dive into SmoothStar’s adapter, Thruster, to get an idea of what makes their boards so good for surf training.
SmoothStar’s Thruster is a spring-loaded turning mechanism placed where the front truck normally goes.
It uses longitudinal compression springs instead of coil-tension springs which creates the resistance and overall surf-like feel of their boards.
Their boards, while great for training for surfing, are not the best for traveling long distances. This is due to the aggressive pivoting ability of the Thruster. Pumping on this board for a long time will tire you out more quickly than other boards because you’ll be keeping your balance and generating speed so often.
However, if you’re looking for one of the best, if not the pinnacle of surf training boards, then selecting a SmoothStar might be the best choice for you.
5 SmoothStar Completes
SmoothStar offers 10 completely built boards on their website. We’ve chosen 5 of their most popular so you can get an idea of their attributes.
1. Smooth Star 32.5 Johanne Defay Pro Model
Created in partnership with the pro surfer Johanne Defay, this surfskate was designed with Defay in mind and mimics her strong carving surf turns. It’s 32.5” long and has the deepest concave of all of their high-performing models under 33”; a feature that helps riders hold the rail longer which further enhances its surf-like feel.
It also features a wide tail that enables riders to push harder and maintain compression during turns.
If that wasn’t enough to spark your interest, it comes with grip tape that allows you to ride it without shoes while still providing adequate grip.
Truly if you’re looking for a quality surfing training board, SmoothStar’s 32.5” Johanne Defay Model is the way to go.
2. 34-inch Filipe Toledo Pro Model #77
This surfskate, designed by pro surfer, Filipe Toledo, is SmoothStar’s newest model. It’s a good size for riders who are 5”6’ to 6”. It features a deep concave in its deck and wider wheels in the back. These features enable riders to push harder during their turns and hold the rails without sliding.
Surfers looking to train with the Filipe Toledo Pro Model can look forward to a board with an ideal blend of maneuverability, looseness, and stability.
3. 32 Inch Flying Fish
Coming in three different designs, the Flying Fish model is a great surfskate for kids ages 9-13. SmoothStar boasts that this board provides much room for progression for greener riders. Because of that, teens looking to improve their surfing skills would benefit from this board’s design.
That’s because it’s made to be lighter than others and has a narrower stance. These features work well with the smaller, more agile bodies of teens. It’s a very responsive board that mimics turning on surfboards quite well.
4. 33 Inch Holy Toledo
The 33” Holy Toledo is the first surfskate designed with pro surfer, Filipe Toledo in mind. It’s said to be the next step up from the 32” Flying Fish, making it an ideal purchase if you’ve already planned to purchase the Flying Fish for one of your younger kids.
The Holy Toledo has the same amount of concave as the Flying Fish, however, it’s not very deep. This means that the board doesn’t perform as well with rail-to-rail turns and deep carves.
However, with its deck being flatter, the board will be easier to control for most people. Additionally, it has a larger width, length, and wheelbase compared to the Flying Fish, increasing the already great stability of this board. And, when it comes to generating speed on flat surfaces, this board is perfect.
5. 35.5 Inch Manta Ray
Riders on the taller or heavier side will appreciate the Manta Ray. It supports riders who are above 6” tall and can support the weight of over 80kg.
Both the front and tail of its deck are wider than other models, enabling riders to drive deep into their carves with extra stability in their footing. It comes with wide and thick wheels that further support heavier riders and those looking for grippy wheels.
Overall, SmoothStars Manta Ray is an excellent choice for taller, heavier riders looking to practice their surfing skills.
Now that we’ve gone through SmoothStar’s unique Thruster and five of their most popular boards, let’s cover some of the other top surfskate brands out there.
Founded in 1996 by Greg Falk and Neil Carver, Carver Skateboards is another industry giant like SmoothStar.
Inspired to create a skateboard that would effectively replicate the feeling of surfing on land, they designed a series of surfskates and continued to revamp their designs until their models were able to stand the test of time.
In their experimentation, they created trucks that were spring-loaded, ones designed with loose front trucks and stiffer back ones, and even tried the use of bungee cords to restrict some of the pivoting ability of the front truck.
Their efforts led to the three major truck adapters they now sell today: the C7, the CX, and the C5.
The C7 is Carver’s most loose-feeling truck. It uses a spring that can be adjusted to provide a more or less stable feel for the rider.
The CX is also an adjustable truck that uses a reverse kingpin design. It provides a firm and snappy feel while riding, making it an ideal truck choice for riders looking for more stability.
The C5 shares the most resemblance to traditional kingpin trucks, though it is actually a reverse kingpin truck. Its kingpins are inverted, lower to the ground, and narrower in width. Its features make it a good choice for grinding rails at skateparks, and of course, pumping.
Who should buy a Carver board?
Those looking for a solid surfskate capable of comfortable long-distance travel should look into Carver Skateboards. In addition, Carver surfskates are less pricey than other brands like SmoothStar or YOW.
Curfboard is a surfskate company based in Munich, Germany.
The idea behind Curfboards began in the 80’s when founder Stephan Augustin decided to recreate the feeling of surfing and snowboarding after having recently discovered the beauty behind them.
Similar to Carver Skateboards, Stephan underwent several designs and prototypes before coming up with a model worthy of being a board that surfers could train on.
In 2016, with the help of his son, Stephan launched a kickstarter campaign with Curfboard as their company name. This kickstarter eventually led to them becoming the world-renowned brand they are today.
What they created was a surfskate with a springless truck; a feature that not only separates them from the competition, but also provides an incredible amount of looseness while riding.
Unlike other surfskate trucks, Curfboard’s front adapter has no springs or bushings. They instead swivel back and forth, similar to the design of a bicycle.
This creates a free-feeling loose board. While this allows for more maneuverability, it may not be great for all riders.
Those looking for a closer surfing feel may want to look elsewhere, as surfing usually comes with a feeling of resistance as the board glides against the water.
Who is should buy a Curfboard board?
Curfboards boast their boards as great surf trainers. And while some people may benefit from them, they’re a bit different in feel compared to other surfskates.
They feel good, just different. If you’re looking for a board that’s easier to pump and comfortable for long rides, a Curfboard might be a good choice for you.
Slide is a surfskate company from the Sancheski brand based in Irún, Spain.
Amongst the surfskates on this list, Slide boards provide some of the most mellow, least-aggressive carves. So, riders looking to coast a bit, or perhaps cruise, should consider getting one of these.
If SmoothStar and Carver’s adapter had a baby, it would be Slide’s adapter. It has the aesthetics of Carver’s C7 with the functionality of SmoothStars spring-loaded adapter.
Also, it’s a more cost-efficient brand, making it a nice option for buyers on a budget.
Who should buy Slide boards?
If you’re looking for a quality surfskate at a lower price than most of the others, check out Slide’s boards. Slide is also the way to go if you’re looking for a more mellow pumping and carving experience.
Founded in 2016, Waterborne Skateboards features a universal adapter capable of fitting any skateboard or longboard deck and trucks, making it an excellent adapter for those who like to customize their boards.
The Waterborne adapter is springless and instead uses a square bushing that provides smoothness, rebound, and increased longevity of your trucks and the adapter itself. Being springless, it provides less resistance than other adapters.
However, its major benefit lay in its universality; being able to be attached to multiple decks and trucks, unlike SmoothStar’s adapter. Additionally, Waterborne has begun supplying rear truck adapters. These hang the rear trucks on a bushing rail adapter, making deeper turns more possible.
Who should buy a Waterborne board?
If you’re looking for a solid surfskate with an adapter that can be used on multiple builds, Waterboard will be a good company for you to investigate.
YOW, or “Your Own Wave,” is a surfskate company based in Basque Country in Spain. It was created by the HLC Distribution.
YOW has garnered increased popularity, having surfskate models from the two-time WSL champion, Gabriel Medina. In addition, Jon Pyzel and Chris Christensen also both have signature models with YOW.
Aside from the authority they gain from having world-renowned surfers assist in their board designs, they also provide a great selection of different board designs, deck shapes, and wheelbases. And because of this, YOW might be the company you want to check out if you’re looking for a variety to find a board that best matches your personality.
They currently offer three adapters: the V.4 S4, the V.4 S5, and the newly designed Meraki system.
On the V.4 S4 adapter, a kingpin and coil spring connect two independent plates to each other. The S4 is easily adjustable and can be used with multiple trucks, making it a solid choice if you’re looking for a board that can be used as both a surfskate and a cruiser.
The S4 is built with a 4mm coil spring inside and is an appropriate adapter for riders seeking sharp carves and deep cutbacks and those under 50kg.
The S5 is a bit stiffer than the S4. Built with a 5mm coil spring, the S5 is a better option for riders over 50kg.
The Meraki system is an updated version of the S5. It’s a bit lighter and offers more stability and durability compared to the S5.
Who should buy a YOW board?
YOW offers plenty of options to choose from, making it a good selection for the variety hunters.
YOW surfskates provide deep carves and can pump from standstills. If these features excite you, consider buying a YOW board.
They’re very responsive, springy boards with quality materials and graphics that work well as surf trainers and deep carvers.
Hamboards is a surfskate company based in Huntington Beach. After an accidental improvement to an early prototype’s design, founder Pete Hamburg discovered an innovative lean that helped longboards feel better for surf training.
In 2012, with the help of his cousin, Donnie, Pete began Hamboards. What’s more, in 2013 Hamboards appeared on SharkTank which gained both Hambords and the rail-to-rail design of surfskates more public recognition.
Hamboard’s trademark 200mm HST carving trucks have springs in both the front and back trucks. Their trucks are suitable for rail-to-rail carving, making them a good choice for riders wishing to emulate this aspect of surfing.
Hamboards trucks are massive and highly durable. Even still, they’re fairly light and provide significant snap and stability to the rider.
Who should buy a Hamboard’s board?
People looking for surfskates on the larger end that can easily handle rail-to-rail carving should give Hamboards surfskates a try.
Their boards generally work better on areas with a slight decline though, so keep that in mind.
Finally, we have the Florida-based surfskate company, SwellTech. SwellTech was founded by Colin Newton, a surfer who wanted to innovate the feel of traditional kingpin and reverse kingpin trucks to resemble surfing more accurately.
Surprisingly enough, Newton’s innovation was sparked in a similar manner as the Hambords company: Somebody ran over his board.
After which, Newton took some tools and the board’s spare parts and began crafting away at a new design. What came about was a new board with a more “surfy feeling.”
SwellTech features a signature model from the notable surfer Jamie O’Brien, as well as the famous skimboarder, Austin Keen.
SwellTech’s adapter is one of the most distinct designs amongst the adapters in this list. It features a front truck with thick internal and external springs.
The external springs allow riders to push their feet hard into the front of their boards, making deep carves a simple task.
And the internal springs improved stability and pumping capability, making this adapter an overall solid choice for most riders’ needs.
Who should buy a SwellTech board?
SwellTech boards have a steep learning curve with a payoff of insanely deep carves in the end. If you’re looking to significantly increase your surfing capabilities, a SwellTech board may be the perfect fit for you.
For many riders it won’t be an overnight learning experience; however, with practice and persistence, these boards can be amazing surf trainers and a fun board to ride if you want some unbelievable carves.
Are surfskates good for cruising?
If you’re looking to cruise on your surfskate, it’s best to look at the Carver, Slide, or Curfboards brands. These surfskates are more suitable for long-distance travel.
Should beginners get a surfskate?
It’s not recommended. If you’re new to riding a skateboard or longboard, then you’ve likely yet to build the muscle memory necessary to sustain proper balance on a moving object. It’s often not a simple task for most people.
So when it comes to surfskates, boards that are designed with loose front trucks that prompt riders to swivel back and forth automatically, controlling one’s balance becomes all the more difficult.
So while there are more beginner-friendly surfskates brands and models, like the Flying Fish by SmoothStar or some of Hamboards’ boards, surfskates, in general, are better options for people who’ve already learned the basics of skating.
SmoothStar supplies some of the best boards for surf training. Their boards are ideal for smooth pumping during short to mid-ranged skating escapades. For longer rides, a Slide, Curfboard, or Carver surfskate will serve you better.
Additionally, SwellTech boards are designed to make extremely aggressive carves, making them exceptional at balance and technique training. Because of this, they have a high learning curve.
YOW offers major variety in its selections and has an adapter that’s suitable for a wide range of different riders. It’s an overall solid middle ground in terms of stability, looseness, style, and pumping ability.
Speaking of looseness, Waterborne supplies some of the more free-feeling, loose boards. They ride a bit differently than other surfskates and may be more suitable for beginners.
Hamboards are great for people looking for large, stable boards. And Slide surfskates are an ideal pick for people looking for mellow rides.
I’ve been riding longboards for a little over 13 years now, mainly bombing hills and cruising through beach towns. I’m also a journalist and content writer with a special interest in learning and relaying what ignites people’s inner fires.