Longboards over 9’0″-9’2″ will float most people well and are suitable for beginners. However, tall beginner surfers with over 100kg weight are recommended to ride a larger longboard. Choosing a longboard size depends on the surfer’s preference and ability.
Then, how do you decide which longboard to get?
First, let’s look at how the length of the board plays a role and help you to decide your next longboard.
Pros and Cons of the longer surfboards.
|Easier to catch waves||Heavier and bigger ( Duh!)|
|More stable when riding||Less Maneuverable|
|Easier to noseride||More expensive, including board bag|
On a side note, for beginner surfers, handling a 9″0 longboard may feel like surfing a door. However, you will get used to the size quickly, and it does not feel too long after 2-3 sessions in the water.
From personal experience, as 5″8 ( 171cm) in height, I found a longboard up to 9″6 is ok, but a 10-foot surfboard felt too big. I couldn’t turn the board well as it was simply too big.
However, it’s not just about length. Let’s look at different types of longboards
First thing first, what makes the surfboard a longboard?
Generally, a longboard is longer than 9”0 and has a wide, rounded nose, allowing a surfer to nose ride. Typical longboards range from 9″0 to 9″6, but you can get bigger surfboards. They almost always have a large single fin in the centre with or without side fins.
Different types of longboards
This is the most common form of a longboard, generally 9-9”2 size with a narrow outline.
This narrow outline allows a surfer to turn and change direction quickly. Also, rails in the tail end tend to be angled, allowing to displace the water, which allows the surfer to turn the board easily when he/she stands near the rear of the board.
Surfers not only perform turns but also nose rides on this board. Therefore, most professional longboard riders use performance longboards in the competition. However, if your main goal is to noseride, a nose rider longboard will be more appropriate.
As the name indicates, it is designed for nose riding. These boards have broader outlines and are thicker than performance longboards. Also, it tends to be longer than performance longboards. Having more material makes the board more stable and ideal for nose riding.
Most nose riders have a wider nose, increasing the surface area in contact with water and improving stability. Their tail is different from the performance longboard. Noserider often comes with a rounded rail (soft rail) in the tail, which enhances stability.
Nose riders often do not come with side fins and bigger centre fins. This is because side fins make the board more maneuverable, and a large centre fin helps to keep the fin in the water when the surfboard is tilted forward.
Because of increased volume, it is more difficult to turn the board compared to the performance longboard.
For nose rider sizes, going longer is generally recommended. One of the greatest longboard riders Devon Howard recommends an average-sized person to ride 9’6″-9’8″.
Retro longboard typically comes with a wider tail and tapers its width towards its nose. This is how the longboard used to be made. It has a retro feel, but it’s difficult to say this board is practical. Having more volume in the tail end sacrifices the performance and speed. Nose riding small waves can be challenging due to the reduced surface area in the nose.
But, choosing a surfboard does not have to be logical at times. If you feel strongly about a certain design and it gives you joy for riding, who can say it’s the wrong board?
What is the most affordable longboard?
With the help of mass production, longboards are selling for around 550-700 AUD. These are made in China or Thailand by machines and hand laminated for the final process. Most factories will have quality control, and you can trust that the board is of reasonable quality.
If the production line is solid and well monitored, it may produce a competitive quality surfboard compared to local surfboard shapers.
I once purchased an Australian handmade surfboard with fin boxes placed asymmetrically – it is evident in my naked eye, and luckily, the surfboard shop was happy to replace it with a different board.
You can also purchase mass-produced surfboards made by well-known shapers. They generally provide the design and keep costs down by producing in bulk. Interestingly, one of the surf shop owners explained that those with big brand products are made in the same factory with the same quality. But they sell the board at a high price thanks to the brand name. Therefore, purchasing a no-brand might be a better option if the brand name does not bother you too much.
Fibreglass vs Epoxy longboard.
Epoxy longboards are the popular choice of longboard for two main reasons. Firstly, epoxy is much lighter than fibreglass, making it more attractive as a choice of longboard. Being over 9 feet means many materials are used to make the board. Therefore, having lighter materials makes a huge difference for longboard.
Many surfers prefer having an epoxy longboard, while they prefer to have regular fibreglass for their shortboard because It tends to be too light for shortboards.
Secondly, epoxy is also more ding-resistant than fibreglass surfboard, especially for light impact. Longboards are not easy to handle, and you will likely bump into things such as cars, and walls while storing or transporting. Therefore, epoxy can be an excellent choice for someone clumsy like me.
What is better? Minimal Vs Longboard
Minimal/midlength vs Longboard.
Most beginner surfers look at the minimal surfboard, ranging from 7”0-8”0. While this can be an excellent choice, longboard offers benefits too. Let’s look at the pros and cons for each surfboard.
|Minimal||Cheaper||Can be difficult to catch waves.|
|Easy to find second-hand. ||Poor resale value.|
|More manoeuvrable||Cannot ride when the waves are tiny.|
|Easier to transport|
|Longboard||Easier to catch waves||More expensive but a good resale value.|
|Longer ride on small waves|
|Can keep this board even after you progress far beyond the intermediate stage.|
While it’s easy to say how much easier it is to catch waves on a longboard, you must experience it for yourself. One of my local surfboard shop owners has beautifully put it: 8 footer is excellent, but 9 footer will put a smile on your face.
Softboard Vs Fibreglass longboard
Softboard is an excellent choice for beginner surfboard, and it is much easier and safer for surfers. However, the Softboard longboard is generally bulky and sits relatively high in the water, making turning difficult. See here for full details of soft board surfboard to help you to make wise decision.
Lastly, these are other things you need to consider when purchasing longboards.
- Can you fit your surfboard in your car? See here for details of different transportation options for surfboards.
- Can you carry the surfboard in one arm?
- Are waves at your local spot suitable for longboards? Riding steep waves and fighting frequent and significant whitewash with bigger boards is challenging.
- Will you keep the board for a while or using as a stepping stone to progress to smaller surfboards?