There will always be a battle between the traditionalist longboarders of surfing and the new-age, shred-minded shortboarders. In our opinion, there is a time for each, though there are definitely major differences that you have to consider when choosing which one to take out.
Whether you are a beginner deciding which board might be best for you, or you are just interested in optimizing your days out on the water and want to see what type of board is suited best for specific conditions, we’ve got it covered!
It’s hard to peg a date to when longboards were invented exactly, as there are reports of the Ancient Polynesians using them all the way back in the sixth century. Now obviously modern longboards that we know didn’t come into construction until the 20th century, as we didn’t have the same understanding of materials and design as we do today. While longboards were invented first, and reigned kings for many years in the surfing world, they share the same popularity with modern shortboards today.
The main difference between a longboard and a shortboard is that longboards are, well, longer. Because of the added length, longboards provide far more stability. You have more surface area to work with overall, meaning you’ll find it easier to both paddle and pop up when it’s time. The larger surfaces of the longboards allow you to maneuver a bit more freely as well. Essentially, if you’re someone who is new to the sport of surfing, a longboard will be your best friend.
In terms of design, longboards will typically have rounder noses than shortboards, as well as rounded or square tails. You’ll typically find them with single fins. Though longboards work well in head-high conditions, they excel when the waves are small, as shortboards usually won’t provide the stability needed to catch small or mushy waves. Looking for a longboard to buy but aren’t sure which one suits you best? Come check out FinBin’s list of leading longboard surfboards.
Shortboards came in much later on the surf history timeline, and have really only been popular for a few decades now. We never recommend shortboards to beginner solely based on their design, though when it come to veteran surfers, they provide far more maneuverability and freedom. The thinner and shorter design characteristics of shortboards allows you to shred larger waves, make sharper turns, and catch some air. If this sounds like something you’re into, a shortboard is a must.
Shortboards work a little better with your body mechanics, allowing you to pick up speed and cut tighter using your own momentum. To properly use a surfboard, you must be able to employ pumping on the face of the wave. You truly have to get your timing down with shortboards to get yourself up to speed, and that timing is only made better by years of practice.
In terms of the actual design, shortboards are typically below 7’ in length. They are far more lightweight than longboards, have pointed noses (though some may round out in more of a fish design), and usually come with thruster-style fins. The tail of a shortboard varies, allowing you to pick between different designs such as pin, squash, or swallow tails, for different maneuverability.
If you’re just starting out in the world of surfing, we recommend getting a longboard. We only recommend stepping up to a shortboard once you have mastered your basic surfing maneuvers, such as your pop-up, turning, etc.
They’re best for peeling waves and awesome for classic tricks like nose-riding when you eventually get better.
If you’re an intermediate to advanced surfer, you probably already know that a shortboard is the way to go. They allow for faster speeds, easier maneuverability, and more practical transportation, as trying to haul around a 10’ log in your sedan might be a pain.
We hope that our Longboard Vs Shortboard article has given you a bit more information on two of the most prominent types of boards in surfing. Make sure to refer back to our article when deciding which is the best one for you to take out!
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