Surfboards are fragile, long, and can be rather heavy when packed together—making them a potential nightmare to ship. You can't exactly go down to the local post office, buy a box, and stick your surfboard inside. However, it is still possible to get your surfboard from point-A to point-B.
When properly handled, a well-packed surfboard should arrive safely every time. So, the three most important things to remember when sending or receiving a surfboard are:
Pack them properly
Buy the insurance
Thoroughly inspect the surfboard BEFORE signing for the delivery.
Pack them properly: Shipping a surfboard generally relies on two layers of defense—a long coffin-looking cardboard box, and generous amounts of cardboard and bubble-wrap to protect the surfboard(s) from blunt forces that the box may endure during transit. Because of the way long boxes are handled, the most likely places for damage are the nose, tail, and rails. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for boxes to be dropped or otherwise slammed end-first. This means the nose and tail of your surfboard should be the focus of most of your packing/padding efforts. Also, when packing multiple surfboards in the same box, be sure to adequately pad them from damaging one another. This is particularly true when glassed-on fins are involved.
Pro-Tip #1: Did you know that it is typically the same price to send 4 surfboards as it is to send one? By the time the freight company calculates the length of a surfboard box, the additional weight of adding more surfboards is minuscule.
Buy the insurance: While it might be tempting to skip the insurance at the rental car counter, do not be tempted to skip the insurance on your surfboard shipment. If the box gets speared by a forklift or run over by a garbage truck, you want to have someone to turn to to help remedy the situation.
Thoroughly inspect the surfboard BEFORE signing for the delivery. You know when the UPS guy comes to the door with a package, and makes you sign for it? It's so familiar and commonplace, that it kind of feels like a ceremonious lesson in patience. All you want to do is see what the postman brought you, so you scribble your signature, and start ripping into the packaging like a kid on Christmas morning. WAIT, STOP, HALT!
Do not sign for any surfboard delivery until you have thoroughly unpacked and inspected the goods. That's because by signing for the package, you are accepting the delivery. Any damage discovered after your John Hancock is on that form is your problem now. We have had several occasions over the last nine years where a surfboard box showed up at a customer's front door visibly battered—to put it nicely—but the delivery guy asked the customer to sign anyway. Unknowingly, the customer made filing a claim immeasurably more difficult. The freight companies don't want to be scammed, so they are doing this to protect themselves. They don't want to hear from you a week later, after your first rail ding in a crowded lineup, trying to claim that the ding happened in transit. Just remember, a signed delivery is an accepted delivery, so regardless of how awkward it may feel, make the delivery driver wait and watch you open it before you sign for the delivery.
Pro-Tip #2: It is always less expensive to ship to a business address than a home address. This is because businesses are generally located closer to distribution centers, and there is less likelihood of no one being at home when you deliver to a business. If at all possible, ship boards from one business address to another, it will save you 20 to 50% on the cost of your shipment.
All in all, shipping anything a valuable and delicate as a surfboard is not a perfect science, but we hope that these insights help provide a much more pleasant experience. In order to really dive into the surfboard packing process, here's a little YouTube clip on the basic steps of packaging a surfboard for shipment: