I was sitting on my deck this morning, working on my bowl of plain yogurt with chunks of fresh mango and watching the morning surf. As I was sitting there, the occasional surfer would walk by, heading to or from the surf. One little group caught my eye.
One guy had a shortboard, one had an SUP (stand up paddleboard) and there was a girl with a longboard. I could not help but think of the infamous Rodney King line, “can’t we all get along.” Obviously this little trio had it all worked out.
This led me to thinking about how even though the techniques are very different in riding these three kinds of boards, the bottom line is that they are all just different ways to ride a wave.
Let’s start out with longboarding, as this was surfing in its original form. Longboards are generally classified as any board 9 feet long or bigger. The way you ride these is different than the way you ride a shortboard. With the long ones you want a lot of flow and glide and you can move around on the board in different ways to accomplish this.
Riding the nose is very popular in longboarding. You are doing a combination of riding on top of the board as well as riding the wave at the same time. It is very fun to do and even though it has its limits as far as “in the pocket” maneuverability, I firmly believe that learning to surf on a longer board is the best way to do it. They teach you the flow and style you can use to adapt to the shorter ones.
Without a doubt, the most modern, high speed, in-the-curl, balls-all-out surfing is done on small boards. You hardly move around on the board at all and the feel is that you and your board are actually one unit riding the wave as opposed to you riding the board and the board riding the wave.
Due to the energy and the flexibility and skill it takes to ride one of these properly, it is more of a direction of the younger than the older surf crew.
Then you have the SUP, a bigger board that you stand on all the time and use a paddle to…