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If you’re just beginning your surfing journey, one of the first questions that you might have to ask yourself is,
Shortboard or Longboard?
The real question isn't shortboard or longboard though, it's actually
How do you want to surf?
Pro’s & Con’s
It’s important to note some of the major differences between the two kinds of boards. Needless to say, no matter which board you think matches what you need, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting either the best longboard or best shortboard you can.
Below, we’ve broken down some of the major pros and cons of each type of board for you.
Transition From Longboard To Shortboard
The transition from longboard to shortboard often comes as you start to develop more comfort and skill riding your longboard and want to try surfing more powerful or larger waves. Oftentimes, it is best to transition to a medium length board to get used to riding a smaller board before making the full transition to a shortboard.
When To Use Longboard vs Shortboard
Longboards are great for smaller waves that have more slope on their face and break more gently. Typically, these kinds of waves are great for beginners and longboards. So if you are just getting started, it’s advised to begin surfing on a longboard since longboards are suited for beginner waves. Generally, when waves are smaller and have less power in the summer, it is a great time to break out your longboard and have some fun when the waves are less than ideal. The long length and large volume will help you catch many waves you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Shortboards are better for when the surf becomes larger and more powerful. These waves typically break in a more steep fashion and can be difficult for a longer board to stay on the face of a wave. These waves also typically take less energy from the board to continue riding, so you won’t need such a long board to ride and have fun. Also, in larger surf, a shortboard will be easier to dive under waves with since it has less buoyancy. In short, shortboards are ideal if you are want to surf in a radical, high performance manner.
What Kind Of People Longboard vs Shortboard Surf
All kinds of people longboard and shortboard. Oftentimes, surfers will choose the best board for the conditions. That being said, there are a few characteristics of most longboarders and most shortboarders. Typically longboarders are beginners or people who are more interested in catching some waves with their friends while enjoying being in the water. Typically, these surfers are less interested in performance surfing, though not always. Shortboarders are usually more experienced surfers who are looking to improve their skills and execute turns on the wave face.
How To Ride And Surf A Shortboard vs Longboard
To ride a longboard, you will want to paddle into a wave until you feel the push of the wave on your board. At this point, you will stand up with your feet in the middle of the board so that one foot is towards the nose and one towards the tail. Once you’re standing, congratulations. You’re surfing! Shortboarding is mostly the same, with a few key differences. Shortboards have less total volume and are less forgiving so it’s important to get your feet placement correct right away. Also since you’ll probably turn your board more on a shortboard, you will want to place your back foot closer to the tail, right above the fins. The goal of surfing a shortboard is to stay in the pocket, or where there is the most energy on the wave, so that you can be pushed along the entire wave.
Longboard Culture vs Shortboard Culture Surfing
Longboard culture harkens back to the early days of surfing, when surfers spent as long as they could at the beach and surfed for as long as they felt like. The culture around longboard surfing is still much as it was. Surfers of all skill levels and abilities coming together to have a good time at the beach and ride some mellow waves. Because of this, longboarding culture is often seen as more laid back and mellow than shortboard culture. Shortboard culture is oftentimes more dedicated either to getting barreled inside the hollow part of the wave or completing multiple maneuvers on the open face of a wave. Shortboarding culture can be a little bit more aggro at times since it is more performance orientated. It is performance driven as opposed to the more soulful culture of longboard surfing.
Which Is Easier Longboard Or Shortboard?
Longboards, due to having more volume because of their length, paddle and stay on the wave easier as well as being easier to stand up on. Overall, surfing a longboard can be much easier than surfing a shortboard since the board is bigger and will provide you with a much more stable platform to balance yourself on and carry you on the wave. Since shortboards are made to be more maneuverable, they are more difficult to stand up on and surf unless you are already an experienced surfer.
Which is a Better Board for Beginners?
We recommend longboards for beginners since they are typically easier to ride. If you look at some of the best beginner surfboards, you’ll notice that most of the top boards are in the longboard range. The extra length will provide stability and easy paddling so you can get there and start your journey to ripping right away.
I Already Have a Shortboard, Can I Just Use That as My First Board?
We’ve talked about how longboards are much easier to learn on. You can use a shortboard, but if you are just starting to surf, you’ll have a much harder time learning. If you are incredibly determined and surf every day, you can learn. But, we recommend starting on a longboard.
When To Switch To Shortboard?
You’ll know you’re ready to switch to a shortboard if you can consistently do the following: read a lineup, catch the wave before it breaks, angle your board so that you are going mostly parallel to shore, and stay on the face of the wave that is not covered with white water. Surfers typically start of on a longboard going straight in the white water. As you get more comfortable staying up, try to catch the wave before it breaks. Once you have this down, try to angle your takeoff down the line of the wave. As you become more comfortable with these aspects of surfing, you’ll become ready to switch to a shortboard.
What Length Makes a Surfboard a Shortboard or a Longboard?
When you’re first starting, it can be hard to know if you are getting the right length board that you are looking for. Typically, longboards are at least 9’ long and oftentimes even a little longer than this. Shortboards are typically shorter than 7’. Boards that fall in between these lengths are known as funboards or midlengths and offer some characteristics of each design type.
Why is My Longboard Shaped Like a Shortboard?
If you have a board with a pointed nose and tail that’s over 7’, it’s probably a big wave gun. These boards are made to help harness the power of XXL surf. They are great at doing that, but you will have a hard time surfing them on any wave that’s not 20’ or bigger. If you’re just starting out, we recommend you avoid trying to surf waves that large… yet. So, it might be best to look for a different board.
How Does Board Length Affect Performance and Paddling Ability?
The longer a board, the more volume the board will have. Volume helps the board float and adds to the mass. Longboards have more momentum to keep you going on a small wave since your momentum is equal to the mass of your board times your velocity. However, with more momentum, it is harder to change your direction. This means that a longer board will take more energy to change directions.
Which Came First, the Longboard or Shortboard?
Many of the first surfboards where longboards. If you look at pictures from the early 60s and before, you’ll only see longboards, usually made from heavy redwood. These boards, however, often made it hard for surfers to turn so they started experimenting with shorter boards. In the late 60s, boards became shorter, and shortboarding became a fixture of surf breaks everywhere.
Do I Have to Choose Between a Shortboard or Longboard?
Great question! After reading all of these differences, it may seem that you need to choose which type of board you’ll ride forever. The truth is that most shortboarders keep a longboard in their quiver for small days where they want to have fun just being in the water and riding waves. Similarly, many experienced longboarders are also entirely comfortable riding shortboards when the conditions suit it.
Now that you know more about shortboard vs longboard surfing, you’ll be better able to make a decision for your needs. Though either choice can be a good one, there are a few points to remember.
Shortboards are better suited to more advanced surfers. They typically work better in larger, more powerful surf and allow for radical maneuvers.
Longboards will give beginners the easiest way to get into the sport. Longboards are a great choice for slower, more gentle waves that suit any beginner.
If you’re looking to relax and enjoy the ocean, even if you’re a great surfer, longboard surfing is still a great option for you since it is oftentimes more laidback.
So get that board, and get out there! With your new knowledge, you’ll be riding your best waves soon.