Loggin’ is not for everyone – but those who add a longboard to their quiver will certainly be rewarded with pure joy even on the tiniest, weakest of days. That’s not to say you can’t get radical on a log, though.
The longboard is probably synonymous with surfing itself – up until the 60s, it was pretty much the longboard and only the longboard.
What is a Longboard Surfboard?
A longboard can describe a surfboard that’s anywhere from about 8’ to 12’, with most falling in the 9’ to 10’ range. Longboards typically feature:
- A low-medium rocker.
- Round nose.
- Parallel shape.
- Square tail.
- Single for or 2+1 fin setup.
Longboards have excellent stability with a huge planning surface that makes paddling, catching waves, and holding lines really easy.
Obviously, it does lack the maneuverability of a shorter surfboard, but once you get used to a particular longboard, you’ll be able to move and pivot as you need to.
Longboarding requires you to use the whole board and pay attention to how the wave is breaking to really get the most out of it.
Moving your body, weight, and foot positioning relative to the wave makes for the super smooth style that comes to mind when thinking about longboarding.
Retro & Noserider Longboards
Noseriding and hanging ten are probably what comes to mind for surfers and non-surfers alike when they think about longboarding. Longboard surfboards specifically designed for noseriding and more of that classic style of surfing often include some of the following design elements:
- A rounder bottom – giving the board a bit more hold and stability once you lock it in.
- A wider tail – to, again, provide some more hold.
- A larger, wider fin – to lock in your lines and hold your board in the water as you move towards the nose.
- A wider nose – to provide a stable platform and keep the board steady.
- Rounder rails – to control the turns and slow things down a bit.
- Spoon nose bottom to create lift.
All of these features come together to create a board that’s more stable and a bit slower – making cross-stepping and noseriding easier.
A high performance longboard is designed for more critical waves and move vertical maneuvers – while still giving you the ability to noseride and trim.
High performance longboards often features more rocker, thinner rails, a lighter glassing schedule, and a thruster, 2+1, or quad fin setup.
These longboard allow for quicker turns and pivots, and are much easier to ride in a faster, hollow wave than a traditional log.
Is it Easier to Learn to Surf on a Longboard?
Given their speed, stability, and paddle power – a longboard is a good choice for learning to surf.
The main drawback for beginners is typically when the surf has any real size or power to it. You can’t really duck dive a longboard, so unless a beginner can flip over and turtle dive or choose a path of least resistance, the longboard might feel like an anchor when trying to get through the surf.
Longboards are the perfect choice when the waves are small and peeling or slow and rolling.
Longboards make paddling easier, they make catching gutless waves easier, and they provide you with a slower, more relaxed style of surfing.
If you only ride shortboards, switching up your surfs with a longboard can be beneficial. You’ll develop a deeper understanding for waves, you’ll refine your own surfing style, and your overall surfing will likely improve.
How to Ride a Longboard
If you’re used to riding shortboards, you’ll notice that the switch to a log can feel quite different.
Their length and size make them slower to respond, but once you get the hang of it, you’re able to draw some really cool lines.
Surfing a longboard well involves getting to know every inch of the board. Unlike a short board, where your feet will mostly stay in one position while you surf, a longboard requires you to move your feet forward and backward to turn, speed up, and slow down.
Mastering the longboard requires you to learn how to cross-step.
Cross-stepping involves bringing your rear foot across the front of your front foot and swinging your front foot behind the rear foot back to the front again. You can repeat this sequence while shifting your weight slightly to move up and down the board.
The cross-step is a lot more effective than shuffling back and forth. You’ll be able to surf and move more smoothly. If you constantly shuffle back and forth, your movements are going to be more abrupt, which can cause you to lose your flow.
You can pick up speed by moving forward and slow down and turn by moving back.
If you’re new to it, it’s going to take some getting used to, and is best practiced in smaller waves.
While high performance longboards give you more turning ability and control, a traditional, retro log shines when you’re able to set your line and trim.
You can take it further by planting the tail of your longboard in the pocket of the wave and cross-stepping to the nose for a noseride or a cheater-5.
Paddling and dropping in will require some adjustments as well.
For paddling out, you’ll have the option of laying down or sitting on your knees.
For dropping in, you may need to shift your weight backwards just as you begin to catch the wave to avoid pearling. You’ll also need to experiment with where you pop up on the board – getting to the tail to set your first turn on faster waves will be important.
Why Should You Surf a Longboard?
For beginners, a longboard is going to make paddling, catching waves, and standing up a whole lot easier. A longboard surfboard will allow you to become familiar with the fundamentals of surfing and reading waves.
For surfers who have some experience under their belt, but usually ride shorter surfboards, longboarding can be a benefit as well.
For starters, it’ll allow you to get more days in the water. When it’s small or almost flat, you can still catch waves and have fun on a log.
A small, gutless wave that’d be impossible to surf on a shortboard can be a blast on a longboard.
Diversifying your wave riding tools is going to help you develop your eye for waves too. Longboard really requires you to read the wave to position yourself in the ideal spots. This type of knowledge is going to help you on any type of surfcraft.
Longboarding is also a great exercise in style. There’s almost no better surfcraft to refine your style and flow than a longboard. Your maneuvers should connect together gracefully, and you’ll need to react smoothly to the wave. This is going to benefit you on a shorter board too.
Surfing a longboard is a great way to mix up the type of surfing as well. You don’t always have to try to slash and cut up every single wave you encounter. Sometimes it’s nice to just set your line and cruise.
Having a longboard is also great when you’re feeling tired or out-of-shape. The extra float and volume means you’re going to have to work less to get into a wave.
History of the Longboard
The longboard IS the history of surfing. It’s what evolved from the giant, solid wood boards the Hawaiians rode to the early hollow wood, balsa, and eventually foam boards of the early 20th century.
It wasn’t until the 50s-60s that boards started getting significantly shorter. But even today, some of the greatest surfing is performed on a longboard, and it’s a great choice for when the waves are small, clean, and rolling.