Longboards tend to be used for three different purposes. Each use has different requirements and therefore, each will need a different shape. This post takes you through the different longboard uses and the requirements that come with it.
1. Learn To Surf Longboards
Many people buy longboards to learn how to surf. They do this as longboards being large, are buoyant and easy to stand on, balance on, catch waves and ride. People looking for a longboard to start surfing with do not need to find anything technical or crazy, all they need to look for is buoyancy. So find a longboard surf board with plenty of foam in it. A soft longboard like the G-Board variety would be preferable as these are even more buoyant than fiberglass boards. The longer, wider and thicker the surfboard is, the better it will be for learning to surf.
To explain with an example, if you were rowing a little tin boat in the ocean and tried to stand up, it would be very bouncy and unstable, the rocking frrom side to side would make standing difficult, wouldn’t it? When comparing to a cruise liner though, you would not even feel the swells and rollers that threaten to tip you out of the tinny, when standing on the deck of the cruise ship. This is because the size of the cruise ship gives it additional buoyancy and stability that the little fishing boat did not have. Surfboards work in exactly the same manner.
2. High Performance Longboards
High performance longboards are surfboards that are made to be ridden like longboards, but also refined for additional speed and maneuverability. I know on the occasions I have headed down to the Malfunction Festival in Kingscliff on the Gold Coast to watch longboarders in competition, when a surfer really uses his long performance longboard well, it is quite a spectacle to watch. Longboarders who want high performance boards can end up doing aerials, 360s and all kinds of tricks. Some of the kids these days riding longboards well, throw them around as if they were shortboards. Combine this with graceful malibu lines on slower sections on the wave and you have a pretty amazing mix of surfing.
Using a surfboard shaper to design you a high performance longboard is a good idea if this is the style of surfing you are pursuing. Getting the shape of the board right for you will take some fine tuning, so it is best to talk to someone about the specifics you are looking for or at the least, buy a specialist off the rack longboard like the ones Bob McTavish crafts.
Longboard Surf Shapes
3. “Toes On The Nose” Classic Longboards
The final category of longboards are the classical ones. The longboards you ride with grace, with peace and to be one with the wave (as opposed to destroying the wave ). Often, you will see proponents of this type of surfing with their “toes on the nose”, hanging five or hanging ten to get the most out of every ride. These surfboards will have a very different shape to the high performance variety of longboard. Typically they will be longer, wider and flatter to facilitate walking up and down the face of the board. They will be rounder at the back too, offering more stability and will only have one single, albeit big, fin.
These single fin longboards are almost a “specialty retro” board now. Off the rack single fin boards are hard to find in surf shops, unless you go to specialty longboard shops. These types of board also bring out many creative varieties, really getting the “art” out of the shapers who put their heart and soul into these longboard surf shapes. For example, it will be this style of vintage surfboard that you will most commonly find shapers using wood and balsa to construct them with, rather than the common fiberglass or epoxy materials. Surfboard art is also common on these classic styles, there is after all, plenty of surface to play with.
So there you have it, longboard surf shapes in a nutshell. I hope this post helps you choose the shape that suits your style the best.