Longboard Surfboard: Everything You Need To Know

After writing the piece on funboards and comparing both the funboard with the longboard surfboard, I have come to realize that longboards have so much to offer for those who like to surf recreationally yet are often underestimated because of their design.

However, these 8-14 foot boards are your best bet if you are just starting out, and you want to surf year-round. Thanks to their volume, length, and great floatation and glide, they can make those 1-2 feet wave days so much more fun.

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Longboard Surfboard Overview

So, before I go on and further explain why you might actually need a longboard surfboard instead of any other board for surfing, here’s a quick overview of its features:

Surf level: Beginners to advanced surfers

Surf conditions: Great for catching those small waves. However, surfing pros can ride them in bigger swells too.

Longboard Surfboards Pros: With a longboard surfboard you practically glide on the surface of the water because there is plenty of place for flotation, and thanks to the low to medium rocker, you are super stable and well-balanced.

Even if you are a rookie, longboard surfboards will enable you to have a clean surf on low-level waves even if the surf conditions are poor. Because of their shape and length, you can paddle on these boards pretty fast so that you can catch more waves with loads of speed.

Also, if you’re just now learning the techniques, with the stability the longboards provide, you have a better shot at mastering all the basic moves more quickly.

Longboard Surfboards Cons: One of the downsides to longboard surfboards is the fact that you cannot duck dive. This makes it trickier to pass the break on big days. Instead, you will need to learn the turtle roll technique. Also, these boards aren’t designed for drastic turns. They lack maneuverability and are made for longer, slower lines on the wave. Additionally, it would be better to nose dive at the takeoff because of the length and low rocker that these boards have.

The other issue with the longboards is transport. With their length, it’s somewhat tricky to move them around in the water or on dry land.

Surfing-Tunnel Longboard Surfboard

How to pick the best longboard surfboard?

Now that you know more about what longboards are designed for and what their features are, let’s dig a little deeper into the world of longboard surfboard materials and types of boards so that you will truly know which one is the right pick for you.

Material and Design

All longboards have rounded noses and width that makes them super stable.

Old-school PU (polyurethane) foam coated with fiberglass is what you’ll find most longboards constructed of. In the middle of the board, you have a balsa wood stringer, which serves for additional strength and flex.

Another popular material is balsa wood. These are specific old-school longboards that experienced surfers prefer because of their unique characteristics. This material adds the needed weight and the flex that surfers go for the most, and on top of it all, they are suitable for the environment, light, and hard to bend.

You also have the durable and light epoxy longboards. However, some pro surfers find them too light to provide the promised performance. On the other hand, their upside is that they are cheaper and durable.

Surfing-Big-Waves

Length

Firstly, as a basic rule, you need to know that longboards are literally long, which is how they have gotten their name. You won’t find a longboard below 8 to 14 ft, with the standard being 12ft.

But the length you’ll choose is determined by what you need from your board. If you go on the shorter side, you get a board that’s maneuverable and navigable while longer boards add to the space you need to make a turn.

So, if you are looking for a longboard that’s great for surfing, cutbacks, and floaters, then based on my experience, I would say go with a shorter board ranging from 8 to 10 ft. And if nose riding and cross-stepping are what you want from your board, then the longer ones will be great.

Width and Thickness

You should go easy on the width and thickness of your longboard surfboard. More narrow boards are great for catching waves, and they swell deeper in steeper waves when you don’t have much need for receptive turning in snug spaces. On the other hand, then wider boards are fantastic for mushy waves combined with flat space turning.

While the nose and tail of the longboard will depend on the function they are built for, their width ranges from 22 to 25 inches. Also, note that a wider nose is for nose riders, and wider tails are for radical surfing.

Surfing-High-Wave

The Rocker

Longboard surfboards that have more curvature at their bottom are great if you are after nose riding. Their bottom curves can slow the board down and allow for it to stay floating on top of the water without adding any more load on the nose or tail.

Some longboards have a nose concave with which you can pick up speed with the nose as you step near it.

Overall Conclusion

To pick the best longboard surfboard for you, you have to take into account that with a board, its construction material, length, width, and rocker matter a lot, and most importantly, you have to choose by what you would like to do with it. Based on the type of activity you’ll be doing, you can pick the best longboard surfboard for you.

For instance, the different tail designs are not as important when it comes to longboard surfboards, but they do affect the performance of the shortboards.

There is also the weight aspect to think about that won’t only affect the surfing itself but the storage, the transport and the overall handling.

Surfing-Wave-Tunnel

Take advantage of the rentals, many surf shops offer.

Try a few different ones because your experience as a surfer is greatly influenced by the type of surfboard you use.

The 2 types of longboard surfboards

Find the best inflatable boards here!

The Classic Longboards

The first type of board in history ever to be used in stand up surfing was the longboard. Ancient Hawaiians as early as the 16th century used these as solid wooden boards to practice their ancient art of Hoe he’e nalu.

Can you guess their length?
It was 270 to 910 cm (9 to 30 ft) long. 9 meters long, now that must have been an experience!

Then, in early 1900, surfing became popular in Australia and the United States, and those longboards were made of plywood and were also called Hollowboards and went from 460 to 610 cm (15 to 20 ft) in length and were very light.

Surfing-Waves-High

Today’s longboards started from the evolution of design from the 1960s. In that period, the polyurethane foam and fiberglass were discovered so that longboard could be made from cheaper materials with a more significant focus on performance.

Even though shortboards shortly after that were introduced as boards that offered tighter turns, swift maneuvers, and faster speeds, longboards were still considered a timeless classic that gave surfers elegance, poise, smooth glide, and grace that they could only get from longboards.

The Modern Longboards

Since the 1990s, longboard surfboards undergone numerous upgrades. The main ones were the change in design and a lighter weight that allowed for many new surfing techniques to be developed. They also allow for less drag on waves.

Nowadays, the average length of the longboard is from 240 to 370 cm.

However, some go up to 430 cm (14 ft) that allowed for the stand-up paddle-based surfing to revive once again because of the stability they offer.

The classic longboard that we have today with a single fin held on to its typical design, weight, and significant buoyancy. With these characteristics, the longboard of today can twist and turn while holding on to the curl of the wave.

Now, speaking of modern longboards, technology played its part and had made significant improvements to the performance of these boards.

Surfing-Wetsuit-Flying

So, meet all the newest variations of the longboards available today:

The 2+1 longboard is an all-around board that is the most flexible of all. Surfers also know it as “single-fin with training wheels,” and it has features of the classic longboard and the Tri-fin. This is why you have solid stability enriched with the strength and drive of a tri-fin.

The Mini Tanker longboard is a shorter longboard that has the design and features of a longboard but added maneuverability because of its shortness. This makes this longboard desired among women surfers and children because it offers greater control.

The Malibu longboard is a racy longboard that offers excellent speed and extra maneuverability thanks to its narrow design. Its marginally pulled in nose and tail section are both designed for agility and control so that with it, you can perform tricks like the “Hang Fives” and “Hang Tens.”

The Olo longboard surfboard are wooden boards of 730 cm (24 ft) with their weight of about 90kg and is also called Hawaiian royalty and aren’t that popular outside of Hawaii.

The Alaia longboards are finless wooden surfboards and are for the professional of professionals because even though they have been upgraded to be lighter than once were (used to be 90kg and 520cm) they are still notoriously difficult to ride/

The Tandem longboards are for two people who like paddling together. These are oversized boards and have high width and stability.

If you are planning on surfing every day no matter the water or wave conditions (small, short waves), then you will get the most out of every situation with the longboard. Sure, they have their own downsides in certain circumstances, but whatever a longboard lacks in, it makes up for with the glide it provides. You have a smooth sail, and you can cut through chops and deliver a clear ride overall.

Surfing-Cold-Wetsuit
If you go out on your longboard surfboard with cold weather make sure to wear a wetsuit

Why you should choose a longboard instead

Shortboards have been up and coming in the last several decades, but that does not mean that the longboard surfboards are obsolete. They are superior for smaller and less powerful waves where a shortboard cannot find its way.

With that said, the quality of the longboard surfboard will depend on its design and material but also on the activity you buy it for. And speaking of activities, here are some of the reasons why you should go with a longboard instead.

Rolling Those 1-2ft Waves

As I mentioned earlier, if you plan on riding all-year-round, you will see many days when small, slopey, and gutless waves rule the ocean. If you have a shortboard, you will be quite frustrated because you cannot have a smooth ride over them. However, a longboard will rock those 1 or 2ft waves because of the extra floatation and paddle power that comes with a longboard.

Also, they are heavier than your typical shortboard, so that additional weight helps you have a better thrust as you float and glide the lower rocker. With this design, you can plane even going in a straight line.

Surfing-Wave-Jump

Noseriding

The longboards are the only boards out there on which you can use the whole board. Usually, other surfboards don’t offer much use for their front part, but with longboards, noseriding is a real thing!

Thanks to their stability, you can spend all your time in the front, and you can easily walk to the front and back throughout the ride without losing balance.

You Get to Have More Rideable Days

No matter where you live, even if you have waves that are out of our control, with the right longboard surfboard, you can make the most out of them too. Even if the water looks as flat as it could be, you will still get the most fun of it with a longboard.

So, instead of just being able to surf when the tide is up, you can enjoy those 4ft days as well as those 1ft days just the same because the element of variety in your ride is the most effective way to increase fun and excitement in surfing. A longboard is an essential part of that.

Relaxing Rides

With a longboard and the stability and control it offers, you can simply get a relaxing ride any time of the day without worrying too much about the water. I mean, paddle boarding and surfing are all about getting active and leaving all your problems on the mainland, so with the longboard surfboard, you definitely have the element of relaxation whenever you feel like it.

Surfing-Tunnel-Wave

General tips on surfing

The following tips are just general guidelines I’ve come to learn over the years. I have divided them into 3 sections where you can find your skill level easy and follow through.

Beginner Surfers

  • Remember that mark on your board that makes it balance on the water while you lay on it.
  • Pull the position of your chin backward to adjust the board’s nose from the water.
  • Avoid placing much weight on the back of the board to keep it from corking. Move a little until you get the right balance.
  • Keep yourself from paddling with both hands at the same time if you are trying to control the speed. Use the crawl stroke to maintain a constant speed.
Surfing-Wave-Wetsuit

Intermediate Surfers

  • Keep calm to maintain your control ability.
  • As you sit on the board, try to reduce the rate of the movements you do.
  • Make it a habit to stand on the board by gradually raising yourself with your weight being balanced on the stringer properly.
  • Avoid looking at your feet as you stand.

New and Experienced Surfers

  • Always wear your leash.
  • Protect the back of your head with your hand with your wrist and elbow across your ears when you fall off the board.
  • Do not leave your board afloat the ocean.
  • Use vest or a rash guard to keep your body from unnecessary harm.
  • Join practice sessions or surfing classes in your community to learn more and share your knowledge.

And that would be all on today’s topic of longboard surfboard picking. I hope this was as helpful and as fun to read as it was for me when writing it. Don’t forget to connect with me on my Facebook and Instagram accounts for more cool tips and recommendations paddle boarding and surfing.

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)