So You're Thinking of Riding a Longboard
If you're considering getting a longboard, here is what you need to know.
Maybe it’s a fad, maybe you think it is only for hipster revivalists, or maybe it is the fact that a longboard can give you that unique “trim” feeling that your other boards don’t have. What ever it is, you have no excuse to omit a longboard of some sort from your quiver. Everyone should have one, even if you don’t take it seriously…it is surfing after all, it is supposed to be fun and hopping on a log is exactly thats...fun!
Nic Jones showing how smooth you can surf on a Classic Malibu longboard. Photograph - Andrew Carruthers.
So the question is, what should you be looking for in a longboard?
Well, that will depend on what you want out of a longboard. There are three main types we can discuss here, the HPLB (High Performance Long Board), the more traditional style of Log and the soft top longboard. There are variations of each of these within their own categories, so we will just take a look at the general characteristics of each and let you go from there.
The High Performance Long Board:
The HPLB is exactly what is sounds like...a longboard designed to surf like a shortboard. This style of longboard usually has a little more rocker, more advanced rails and bottom contours, usually a 2+1 fin set up (single fin center with side bites) and glassed lighter than a traditional log.
The Mistress by 1 DA Shapes is the perfect blend for performance longboarding.
These boards are meant to be surfed aggressively. The combination of the rocker, rails, bottom, fin set up and weight allow you to get more vertical on a wave and perform more critical turns on critical sections of the wave. Although you can still perch up on the nose for some tip time, you often see these boards being surfed in a similar way to a High Performance Short Board (HPSB). Hard gouging turns, floaters and even airs can be done on this style of board as they are generally glassed lighter resulting in a snapper flex pattern and over lighter weight for their size.
Much like shortboards, the HPLB is also commonly found in both PU and Epoxy versions. The PU giving you the traditional flex patters we all know and love, the Epoxy giving you a much lighter board all around. When it comes to surfing one of these boards like a shortboard, the weight will be a big factor in it’s performance, so going Epoxy is a great idea.
The fins used in this style of board is usually geared more towards performance style. The center fin will have a good balance of drive and release (much like a shortboards fin) but obviously bigger than what you would find on a shortboard. The side bite fins will often be similar in size and shape to that of what you would find on a shortboard, and help give the surfer more control over the board when trying to surf it hard through turns as well as providing more hold on a steeper faced wave.
This is an extremely fun type of board to surf if you are into getting high performance but still want a longboard.
If you are looking for a completely different ride and want to save your high performance surfing for your shortboards, you will want to have a look at a more traditional style of log.
Traditional Style Longboards:
Your traditional style of longboard or “log” is usually made in PU with heavier weight fiberglass and more traditional rails and bottom contours.
Shapers Fins can sort you out with a set up for your longboard.
There are a variety of fin choices depending on the style of log or how you want your board to act. In our article The Surfboard Fin Guide
, we covered the basics of fins for longboards from the Flex Fin to the D-fin. One end of the fin spectrum allowing for more progressive “traditional” surfing, the other end geared more towards a classic log nose riding trim.
If you are looking for a classic style log, be sure to check out the Bacon by DMS Surfboards.
These traditional style of boards work best being heavier as that weight carries it’s own momentum through flat sections, as well as gives you a little more stability when surfing the board from the nose.
Usually consisting of full rails, and a rolled belly like bottom with Vee out the tail. This gives you stability and makes it a little easier to transition from rail to rail. Perfect for when you want to walk around the board a little. Some of these boards even incorporate some concave up in the nose area which helps create lift and add control when surfing from the nose.
The traditional log is perfect for long mellow point breaks, or softer days. The more lined up the wave, the more fun you can have on one of these boards.
This is definitely a style of board that every surfer should have or at least try out at some point in their lives.
Riding the nose on a Noosa Longboards model.
The Soft Top Longboard:
The HPLB and the traditional log can be a ton of fun, but if you are less experienced they may not be the right choice. The HPLB may not have the stability you need and the traditional heavy log might be a little to intimidating. It is a lot of boar dot move around, and if you struggle paddling, they can be a challenge just to make it out through the white water and into the line up.
Even for the experienced surfer, you might be heading out to an extremely crowded break and having that heavy torpedo can be hazardous to everyone. The perfect solution to all of these problems is the Soft Top Longboard
Easy to paddle, super stable, run up to the nose, go tandem with your bro’s (if you’re into that) and get bonked on the nose…it doesn’t really matter, these soft tops can do it all and without the possibility of doing serious damage to yourself or others.
These boards are usually pretty resilient too. No wax needed, you can leave them out in the sun, let you kids jump all over them on land, and certainly no dings when you run into other on a party wave. And now a days, many of them can actually surf fairly well. You can take off late and they will hold a line. And if you feel inclined to take it to that closeout section, go for it. That is definitely something you would otherwise avoid when surfing a traditional log.
Endless fun and perfect for everybody’s quiver from the beginner to the advanced surfer.
That nose riding feeling on a Canvas Surfboard.
As with any type of surfboard, there are many variations of longboards that we haven’t even touched on. The purpose here was just to give you a general idea of what to start looking for and to consider what you may want if you are going to be in the market for a longboard soon.
Whatever your choice is, a longboard of some sort is essential in anyones quiver. Even the elite level surfers on the world tour have a few stashed away in their garages for those clean small summer days.
Check out the Board Engine to find board recommendations all made in Australia by professional shapers at the top of their crafts that will help improve your surfing. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your details for a detailed report of board recommendations for you.
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