The Long and Short of It

Waves, waves, waves. Over the past couple of months, in conjunction with MI OLA and a little help from Señor Google, I have chatted a lot about waves; how waves are madewind conditionswhere and what direction waves break, and swell direction. So what is next? With all this wave and conditions knowledge, how about actually surfing? But, how do you know what surfboard is best for you?

Surfboards. They are not all created equal. Long, short, fun, fish, mini…choosing and riding the right board can get quite completed. Let’s start with the basics.

  1. A Longboard ranges from 9′-10’+. Mini-longboards are in the 8′ range and “Fun” boards in the 7′ range. Shortboards are in the 6’s to as short of a “stick” that you can ride.

  2. When you just start surfing, a longer board is better. Like 9 + feet. We know, this may seem contrary to what you thought, “Isn’t a longboard harder to control?” Technically yes, but a longboard offers more stability and it’s easier to catch more waves, two keys for beginner surfers.  AND if you decide to stick with using longboards, you can start to do some fancy footwork called cross-stepping (or as I like to call it, twinkle-toeing)!

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    Photo by Avellanas Surf Photos

  3. As you progress in surfing, you can start “stepping down” and playing around with board length.  Smaller boards are easier to carry, you can duck dive with them, and you have the ability to do stronger turns.  But with a shorter board, you have to work harder to paddle and catch waves, and your wave take-off point is closer to the peak – which takes an adjustment.  Don’t sacrifice wave catching ability only so you can say you surf a shorter board!  Sure, the smaller board may be easier to carry down the beach and travel with, but if you are catching fewer waves in the water because your board is too short, then you are missing out on the fun!
  4. Wave size and conditions help dictate what board in your “quiver” you should use. For example, Tamarindo is a great longboard wave vs. Playa Grande, a couple miles down the beach, is a better short board spot.  This is because Tamarindo tends to have more of a rideable shoulder, is not as a fast breaking wave as Playa Grande, and smaller wave size.
  5. Sound confusing? I like to say, “keep it simple.” Chose one board and ride that board until you get comfortable on that board. Each board has a “sweet spot”, and switching out boards every day just gets too confusing!

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    Photo by Secondhand Surfer

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