To go Long, or to go Short ; now that is the question……..

Most people will naturally find themselves steering towards a longboard or a short board.  Both have their advantages and equally there disadvantages.

So where do you fall?

Do you aspire to gracefully dance, and smoothly transition from rail to rail, take a stroll all whilst riding the waves? Or do you imagine yourself carving up the wave with powerful snaps, cutbacks, smacking the lip and racing down the line? This is a choice you must make, we love to see which route our customers take and we can help you with our Intermediate lessons to move closer to where you want to be. But if you can’t decide whether you want to be a long boarder or short boarder, we hope this blog will help you with your decision.

Longboarding

You can longboard as a beginner/intermediate or advance surfer.  If you have ever taken the time to visit YouTube and watch professional surfers riding longboards, you can see that they can do things the average surfer would only dream of being able to achieve.

Longboarding, certainly in recent years has developed a reputation for just being for beginners.  This couldn’t be further from the truth and we can see people’s attitudes changing. Longboarding is just as cool as short boarding…it’s just different.

Longboard Advantages

  • You can ride a 1ft wave or a 6ft wave – Riding a long board means you can surf more often even if the conditions are not great.
  • Great for the beginner, more stable platform – A longboard will have more surface volume, and ultimately will be far more stable than a short board.  This means if you put your foot in the wrong place it is more forgiving, so you can adjust. When you catch the wave and go to ‘pop up’ you won’t affect the board quite so much, so take off isn’t so critical.
  • Catch the wave earlier – If you can catch the waves earlier you will catch them when they are not so steep. This is great for preventing ‘nose diving’ or just getting a feel of timing when to catch the waves.  It will also allow you to read the wave better and make a better choice on which way to go.
  • Slower, allowing you to learn and advance quicker –Because you’re not taking off at a critical point, you can get to your feet smoothly as a beginner/novice. This is turn will leave you more composed. You will have more time to try different manoeuvres.  It will also allow you to practice controlling speed by playing with your position on the wave and on the board.
  • High wave count – You will definitely catch more waves on a longboard then if you were riding a short board, no questions.
  • Platform to cross step  – Some manoeuvres cannot be done on a shortboard, you can cross step, drop knee turn, nose ride….
  • Quicker to paddle – Longboards are easier to paddle.  Because of the volume of the board you will more than likely be floating on top of the water, so when you paddle you will be paddling across the water, which ultimately makes it easier (a shortboarder will be paddlng through the water as they sink – extra resistance).

 Longboard Disadvantages

  • Transportation – Not everyone has the means to transport a Longboard, but nowadays you can easily attach a roof rack or soft racks to transport your board.
  • Handling – not all longboards are heavy, in fact some newer longboards can be quite light, but they are cumbersome.
  • Harder to paddle out passed the breaking waves in big surf – If you do get taken by a wave it will take you further back towards the beach as it will drag more.  Once you have perfected the turtle role though you will find it much easier.

Short Boarding

This is what the media shows most of, I think the media is biased and portrays that short is the only way to go.

If we take a look at any other sport,  for example, running. You have just started running and aspire to be a long distance runner. Do you after one 10 minute run go out and run an Ultra Marathon(50KM/31miles)…no of course not. You start with a 5k and build up your mileage. Once you are capable of running the distance do you then expect to beat the elite athletes that dedicate their whole lives to the sport…..of course not!  Apply this question to surfing and what do you get???

Surfers on the World Tour are doing amazing things; I watch in awe sometimes, it’s unbelievable how effortless they make surfing look.  This is the key, if you have now tried surfing, you know it’s definitely not as easy as it looks, so short boarding is a slow and gradual learning curve which takes a lot of commitment. You must start on a bigger board to then decrease in size……so starting on a longboard or minimal is the only place to start.

 Shortboard Advantages

  • Easy to transport the boards  – when travelling to and from the beach or even abroad, a short board is a lot easy to carry/transport. They are less likely to get damaged in transport.
  • Easy to handle the board in the surf – If you do lose your board in the surf, because they are not as heavy they won’t drag you quite so much.
  • Once you have mastered the art of ‘duck diving’ easier to paddle out – it is a lot slower paddling on a shorter board as you are paddling through the water rather than on it.  But that said once you have mastered the art of ‘duck diving’ you will go under the waves and not taken back towards the shore when trying to get out past the breaking waves.
  • Easier to manoeuvre  – Shortboards don’t need as much weight or force to turn, they don’t create as much resistance when turning, so once you have learnt how to turn on a bigger board and move onto a shorter board it will feel easier to turn. They are more responsive to your body movements.
  • Easy to transition back to longboarding – if you have been shortboarding for a while, you will have built up a good base in your early years of surfing riding minimals or longboards, so on a day you cant ride a shortboard because the surf is too small, you can simply hire a longboard and have some fun!

Shortboard Disadvantages

  • You can’t surf 1ft waves  – Unless your Kelly Slater of course. There generally won’t be enough power in the waves to surf on a shortboard, so if you want to get in on the smaller days, picking up a longboard/minimal is definitely the way to go.  This also means you will get more waves over the year.
  • Harder to learn to ride – Because you will have to contend with later take offs, fast movements, more the board being more responsive, it means you have to think about your next move quicker.  Depending on the waves you will also need to learn how to generate your own speed.
  • Catch waves later so if you pop up isn’t right you will find it very hard – exactly what is says on the tin!
  • Smaller platform, critical foot positioning – if you get your footing wrong you could dig a rail and be thrown from the board. Its not so easy to adjust your footing if you don’t pop up right.
  • Less forgiving, more critical with timing – you have to ride in the pocket of the wave to get the best out of surfing a shortboard.
  • Harder to generate speed for turns – Because the board wont necessary glide across the water you will need to generate speed yourself by ‘pumping’.  That said there are some great short boards which seem to glide and are fast because of their design.

We could go on and on with these lists…but this is just an insight.

So which do you aspire to be?

Me personally, I do both, I feel this enables me to enjoy a variety of waves in a variety of different places. For me being able to surf both, gives me the freedom and choice of how to surf any given wave, taking into account the challenges that may face me on the day.  I have been surfing 15 years, I ride a longboard which is 9ft 2 all the way through to my fun board 5ft 3.  I learnt to surf for the first two years on a 9ft board, and I think my progression is all down to staying on a longboard at the start.  It allowed me to learn how to turn, cutback and go up and down the waves before dropping down in size.  Dropping down in size should always be a gradual thing.  I didn’t go from surfing a 9ft board to a 5ft 3 overnight…it’s taken me fifteen years and may surfboards in between.