Longboards vs Shortboards: What You Should Know [2020]

If you are into the hype and thrill that surfing brings, one of the dilemmas you will face in engaging in the sport is choosing between a longboard or a shortboard. Both these types of surfing boards are great to use. But there are specific differences that you should look into before you decide on what you should use. 

In this article, we will talk about the differences between using a longboard and shortboard and the pros and cons of these two types of surfboards.

Longboards vs. Shortboards: The Ultimate Review

Shapes and Sizes

surfboard shapes

Given its name, longboards are longer compared to shortboards. Because of its length, longboards provide a number of key benefits to surfers. One would be having more stability when surfing. Since the board is long, there is more space to plant your feet on the surface area, which is pressed against the water. Thus, giving riders a more stable experience when using longboards. Longboards are excellent choices for people who are still starting with the sport.

Longboards are usually 9 to 12 feet long and have a single fin and a rounded nose. However, nowadays, a lot of people opt to choose three fin setups as they help surfers make maneuvers and turn without sacrificing the board’s buoyancy and its movement on the waves.

Compared to longboards, shortboards are shorter in length, which makes it harder for beginners to use. The great thing about shortboards is that their design provides more freedom for surfers to move around compared to longboards. A lot of professional surfers use shortboards as they possess an aerodynamic design and shape, giving better maneuverability among their users. Making sharp cuts into waves are more doable and possible when you use a shortboard.

Aside from maneuverability, shortboards pick up more speed. So, as you hit a wave at the right angle, you can propel the shortboard into the water by using your body’s momentum. Everything is all about timing. You get to maximize your speed once you hit the wave at the right time with your shortboard.


Materials Used for Longboards and Shortboards

Regardless of their sizes, most of the surfboards found in the market are using some foam. The first surfboards have used polyurethane foam, in which the surfboard maker would form a plane from a blank foam sheet before a polyester resin is encased.

Today, epoxy resin and a prolapse polystyrene foam are used by makers in creating surfboards, compared to polyester and polyurethane, which might be very soft for the strain where the surfer places his board under.

Surfboards are using a fiberglass cloth for the construction, plus the type of process involved is based on the kind of foam and resin being used in the core. Polyurethane boards utilize foam, while the resin is applied by expanded polystyrene and epoxy boards. Surfboards using these materials are all handmade, but because of technology, more machines are put up to create hundreds or thousands of surfboards.

The core of the surfboard uses a fiberglass cloth for lining, and multiple coats of resin are used for lamination. Afterwhich, the board’s surface is then given a smooth finish.


Types of Waves for Longboards

surfing waves with shortboards

Longboards offer surfers a smooth cruise along the waves and catch waves without showing much effort with these boards draw very different lines.

Professional surfers can do tricks while using the longboard. They can up walk up and down the board or walk right to the nose with their toes hanging over the end. If there are five toes on the nose, you call it “hang five” and if 10, of course, “hang ten!”

Surfers using longboards feel like they are dancing with the waves, compared with using surfboards. If you want to learn how to surf, longboards are highly recommended for you as they are more stable, which makes it easier for you to catch some waves.

Types of Waves for Shortboards

Aside from the design, one of the most noticeable differences between shortboards and longboards would be the type of waves they are riding and the style of surfing a wave.

Compared to longboards, shortboards allow surfers to draw faster lines, which enables surfers to go into quicker and steeper waves. Also, surfers using shortboards can do more radical aerials and turns, even if they are in the most critical parts of the wave.


Paddling With Longboards vs. Shortboards

paddling with surfboards

Longboards have the same technique as shortboards. However, there is an alternative for surfers using longboards. They have the option to kneel on the board while using both their hands all at once to increase their speed as they propel the board forward. Surfers can also spot set waves easily.

Shortboards, on the other hand, differ on how they are being paddled towards the lineup. Surfers will have to lay on their shortboards and do a front crawl stroke to move their boards into the waves and around the lineup. 

Longboards are easier to paddle out than shortboards. You need to lay your stomach down on your longboard, and you can propel your board through the water. Just make sure that a big wave does not break on top of you, then you can easily navigate through the water.


The History of Longboards

shortboards vs longboards

Longboards were the first ones to be used by surfers as they were created in the 1500s. Even though longboards have been constructed from different materials, its basic form has always been the same throughout time. As popular as shortboards, longboards provide more options for surfers as they engage in this thrilling sport.

If you are the type of person who likes to immerse in the classic surfing your ancestors have experienced before, then longboards are what you need. These boards, which are originally made from wood, have been existing for thousands of years now. Longboards were used by the Hawaiian royalty since they were not only used for fun activities. Longboards have been used as a spiritual tool to resolve tribal conflicts.

Regular longboards often are made between 9 to 15 feet in length and weigh up to 80 kgs. These boards have designs that made use of the Wili Wili, the Koa, and the Ula trees, which can yield two types of boards as well. These two boards are the Olo, used by the chiefs, and the Alaia, ridden by the tribes’ people.

As the years went by, longboards ventured from one material to another. Balsa wood was a good option. Surfboard makers strengthen the middle of the boards of balsa and the rails of the stronger wood using waterproof glue. It was in the time of World War One that plywood was used for making longboards.

The History of Shortboards

Compared to longboards, shortboards have a very modern and innovative design. It was during the 1960s that the shortboards were introduced to the world. Regular surfboards that were measured 10 feet in length suddenly became 6 feet long!

It was Dick Brewer who was recognized for introducing such design. As the popularity of shortboards increased, Brewer had to relocate to California to meet the demands. Shortboards gave surfers the capability to ride more conveniently, give them more ability to maneuver and provide them to surf aggressively. It was not a surprise that these boards were dubbed as the “pocket rocket.”

The design of shortboards had alterations throughout the years. There is a thirst for speed for shapers, which is why tails, rail shapes, and bottom contours were added.

The direction of modern surfing shifted when Mark Richards won four consecutive world titles by using a Fish style shortboard. It was Steve Lis who first designed and constructed the original fish surfboard like a knee-board as Lis was a knee-boarded. However, stand-up surfers discovered an incredible speed and sharpness of the turns when fish surfboards are used standing up. 

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