The most important thing when you catch a wave is time. Experienced surfers can predict how big an oncoming wave is and where it will start to break. When you see a wave coming, you should look towards the tip of the board towards the shore and lie down, ready to paddle. Width and length have a big impact on how you control your surfboard.
The more surface your board has, the better it will float and the easier it will be to surf in general.