Here are some ways to tell if Longboarding is best for you.
1. is it 2ft & Rolling: Wave conditions are one of the best reasons to ride a specific type of board. Sometimes the only waves you have access to are small, slow and long. If, most of your sessions happen at San O, Waikiki or at a small point break in Western Oz where the waves don’t pack a punch, a longboard is a good option to consider. The fact is, small waves like big boards. The extra flotation and paddle power that come with a big board make it easier to catch them, the extra weight helps you to carry your momentum as you glide and the lower rocker lets you plane even when going in a straight line. There are other types of boards that will work well in small conditions also, but the longboard is always a solid choice when its small, rolling or mushy.
Of course this isn’t to say that these are the only conditions a longboard will work in. A lot of guys will take out their longboards in OH+ waves at certain breaks. Guys have even ridden longboards at places like Pipeline (see the movie Singlefin Yellow). But at the end of the day, because the waves are the variable we don’t have control over, the question is not usually “what waves do I want to take this board on” but rather, “what board do I want to take out in these waves.”
2. Noseriding: The singlemost differentiating element about riding longboards is the front 1/3 of the board. On most surfboards the front part is not used much. At best it is used for its entry rocker, at worst it is only cosmetic and sometimes only to display stickers. But on longboards, you can walk up there are camp, spending 50% or more of your time dangling your toes.
Along with the noseride is the element of cross stepping and footwork. Longboarders get to walk to the front and back throughout the ride, adding a new element of movement to the surfing experience. If you are interested in experiencing a new element to surfing, the only way to access these styles is on a longboard.
3. Increase The Number of Rideable Days: At the heart of the great joy and frustration of surfing is the variance in wave conditions. For the most part, it is out of our control. Sometimes the waves are pumping and we have commitments and other times we have all the time in the world and it is flat for weeks. Having a longboard in your quiver helps ensure that you will be able to have fun in the water on more days of the year.
A day that is 4ft and glassy will be fun on almost any type of board, but with a longboard you can have a fun session in conditions that are 1ft and crumbly. It would be pretty hard to do this on any other type of board. So now instead of only being able to get out and surf the 200 days a year where is is 3ft+ you will be able to also make use of the 100 days where it is under 3ft. Diversity in your quiver is the number one way to increase your surfing fun. A longboard is an essential part of a diverse quiver.
4. Increased Wave Count: Take this with a grain of salt. I don’t mean to say it is alright to be a wave hog because you are on a longboard, but what is true is that you can catch more waves. If you are an advanced surfer, you can probably catch any wave you want on any board you are on. If you aren’t, a longboard will help make sure you get plenty of standing time. If you happen to find a beach with no one out, you can literally spend a whole sessions doing turn and burns, paddling out, turning back and riding one in. Its a great workout and can charge up your stoke meter even if you don’t have a ton of time to surf.
It is well known that longboards are great for beginners and that is because of the ease of catching waves on one. But even for the intermediate surfers, longboards help ensure you get a decent amount of waves. The more waves you catch, the better you will understand how waves form and break, which will come in handy if you switch down to a smaller board. To make sure you aren’t being a hog, sit a bit further out, so you catch the waves earlier and make sure to let plenty roll through. With great power comes great responsibility.
5. Longboarding is More Relaxing: The word that comes to mind is glide. Longboards have a certain grace to them. Since the board is bigger, it won’t move around as quickly and so your motions have to be more drawn out. Most longboards make wide sweeping turns and gracefully walk the nose. (Then there is the Blackies crowd…)
Longboaring can be a nice way to relax, score a few waves and get some sun. Its easier to share waves and since most guys get the waves they paddle for, there aren’t many paddle battles for the peak. If what you are looking for is a nice calm stress reliever, longboarding might be for you.
Conclusion: When buying a surfboard you should make sure the board will be a good fit for your surfing. Some people enjoy surfing shortboards, but you might have a few reasons that tip the scales towards longboards. If the waves around you tend to be small, if you’re looking to surf often and have a relaxing time doing so or if the noseride looks appealing, you might want to consider longboarding.
You might even just want to think about getting a longbaord as a sometimes board. There is nothing that says you can’t ride a few different types of boards. In fact, having a diverse quiver is one of the smartest ways to build. When one style of surfing gets stale, you can switch to another for a while so that it is always fresh and exciting. Don’t feel presured to ride one type of board rather than another because it seems cool. Surfing is about having fun and being on a good board for you is the first step to having fun.
(pics not mine)