If you’ve recently bought yourself a new surfboard, probably the last thing you want to do is rub some gunky wax over it and “ruin” that shiny, smooth surface. But, unless you’ve just bought that board for show, that’s exactly what you’re going to have to do. Wax gives you all the grip you need to ride your board – without this, forget surfing! It’s also key to make sure you get the right wax to go on your board depending on the temperature of the water you plan to surf in, this will give you the best possible grip and therefore the best performance.
You shouldn’t need to wax a soft board, especially if they are new. I’d recommend using it first without wax and seeing how you get on, as most foamies have some sort of grip to them, and wearing boots can be enough of a help. The main reason I say this is because wax can be hard to get off a foamie, and it can go pretty nasty if you just pile it on and leave it!
If your foamie is a little slippy though, you can look into getting a traction pad or just apply a very fine layer of wax – you won’t need half as much as a hard board.
All surf waxes generally come with a temperature rating, which relates to the stickiness of the wax and therefore the temperature it will perform best in. For example, if you decided to hit up the waves in Bali with cold water wax on your board, you'll quickly find it melts right off! On the other end of the spectrum, if you use warm water wax on the Northern coast of the UK, it won't be sticky enough to be grippy. As a general rule, you want stickier wax for cold water, and harder wax for soft water.
Here's a rough guide to what you should be looking for:
Cold: 15°C and below
Tropical (AKA Base): 24°C and above