Longboard vs Shortboard


This continues the California Surfing Series. Last post, “Wipeout!” detailed some things that can run awry. This set of shots, all from Oceanside, show how it is done. I was struck by the ratio of  longboard vs shortboard Surfers. It seemed most of the Veterans used the long and the younger dudes (and dudettes) used short. I am assuming that this is similar to the ski vs  snowboard battle!


Since the late 1960s, when Gordon Clark found the optimum formulation of urethane foam, many of the surfboards in common use have been of the shortboard variety between 6 feet and 7 feet in length, with a pointed nose and a rounded or squarish tail, typically with three skegs (fins) but sometimes with two or as many as five. Surfers generally find a shortboard very quick to maneuver compared with other types of surfboards, but because of a lack of flotation due to the smaller size, harder to catch waves with, often requiring steeper, larger and more powerful waves and very late takeoffs, where the surfer catches the wave at the critical moment before it breaks.

Olde School with a Longboard

Longboards (also known as Malibu boards) range 8 to 14 feet (2.4 to 4.3 m) long, or 3 feet (0.91 m) taller than the rider in overall length. Its advantage is its substantial buoyancy and planing surface, which enables most surfers using it to ride waves generally deemed too small to propel a shortboard, as well as anything else. Longboards are universally common among both beginners and skilled surfers alike. The main reason why longboards are more suitable for beginners is because of the board’s size and frequency of catching waves. In the proper conditions, a skilled surfer can ride a wave standing on the nose of a longboard, and put his toes over the nose’s edge. By literally putting his “toes on the nose” the surfer can “hang ten”.

2 responses

  1. Cool shots and history around the boards!

    August 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm

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