Surfboard Guide - The Longboard
Invented in ancient Hawaii, longboards were originally made of wood from local trees, such as koa, and were up to 15 feet in length and extremely heavy. However, major advances in manufacturing materials saw a radical change in the 1950’s, with lighter boards becoming readily available and resulting in a subsequent boom in the market. The combination of polyurethane or polystyrene foam, covered with fiberglass cloth & resin, made for a lighter and stronger surfboard, far more buoyant and infinitely more maneuverable than ever before.
Ideal surf conditions?
Longboarding is all about the flow. A graceful step here, a bent knee there – it's more of a dance than that of modern day shortboarding. Longboards truly come to life in smaller conditions when the surf is less than head high. The shear size and volume of these planks means that they'll get you going in just about any conditions. And thanks to its wider deck and rounded nose, the board will paddle fast, plane smoothly and pick-up waves way before they even break. It almost feels like cheating. In general, these boards will perform best on flat faced waves & are able to plane across large sections, easily maintaining their down the line speed. Also known as the “Malibu” surfboard, they are the "go to" board shape for summer surfing, when waves are usually marginal at best.
Why everyone needs a longboard
Most avid surfers won't choose a longboard as their board of choice. It's a different style of surfing - you walk the board, set the line and basically you do a whole lot of trimming. If you're looking to try & bash the lip, you're on the wrong board. It'll never be a replacement for a shortboard or hybrid. However, even the best top to bottom surfers will, without doubt, see the benefit of having a Malibu in their quiver. They're a lot of fun to ride - and you'll without question surf more. They get you stoked on an otherwise flat surf day where your shortboard won't work. They'll keep you paddle fit and ready for when the bigger swell rolls in. It's a win, win. Pretty much any surfer could use one in their quiver, including beginners, all the way to the most advanced ripper.
The modern day longboard has largely remained the same since the 1950's.
8 reasons to buy
1) Ideal for learning to surf.
Like any sport, longboarding takes years to master, but the fact that you can be up and riding in a relatively short period of time is a big plus factor.
2) Great alternative to a shortboard.
Even with the development of hybrid shortboards that make it easier to paddle and catch waves, shortboarding is seriously hard to master. If you're frustrated with your progression, then switching to a longboard might be a nice alternative to get your stoke back.
3) Wave Count.
They're big and floaty and they catch waves easily. If your wave count is low, then perhaps it's time to mix it up with a few longboard sessions.
4) Gets you in the surf in marginal conditions.
We've all turned our noses up at crappy conditions. But paddling out on a 9' plank, you'll be surprised just how much fun you can have when the surf is small, weak & flat faced. Same applies for onshore conditions.
5) Built to last.
Thicker boards generally don't snap as easily.
6) For the occasional surfer.
They're also ideal for those looking to surf just a handful of times each year as they'll get you going in any surf and catching waves has never been easier.
7) Great for the larger surfer.
If you’re not quite as fit as you used to be, then a Malibu might just be a great match. Longboards have tonnes of volume, even for the biggest of riders meaning you'll catch plenty of waves & have a stable platform when popping to your feet.
8) Excellent resale value
Who doesn't like more money in their back pocket!? Mals are easy to sell and even well used planks hold their value.
At around 9' in length, a wide (& rounded) nose combined with a single fin are the boards main characteristics.
Hard to duck dive.
Increased volume means that getting through the surf will be trickier when the surf is bigger. You can't duck dive these boards, although you can roll them instead. It's a small sacrifice all things considered, especially when you factor in that you'll rarely surf them over shoulder high.
Not ideal for hollow surf.
Although they perform well in weak and marginal conditions, when the surf gets hollow you'll soon come across all kinds of issues unless you're an experienced rider.
Hard to travel with.
Shortboards can fit inside your car. Longboards won't. They're way more of a pain to deal with on a day to day basis. Taking flights, trains and taxis can be a whole world of pain.
Different riding technique (to shortboarding).
Although anyone confident in surfing a shorter board will probably transition easily onto a Mal, make no mistake that longboarding is a different style of riding to the conventional top to bottom surfing technique. It can be a bit of a shock the first time you drop into a wave and struggle to turn off the bottom! Get those feet moving - and remember, walk, don't shuffle!
Advanced riders can perform pretty impressive moves, but the majority of longboarders wont be doing vertical top turns.
The modern day longboard is here to stay. Although relatively unchanged in the last 65 years, this iconic design has certainly stood the test of time. Ideal for just about any size surfer and any ability, if you've not already got one in your quiver, maybe its about time you did!