Longboards and its history
Longboards are the original surfboards used in surfing from the beginning of time. First designed and surfed by the Hawaiians and Polynesians before it became an American state. The original length of a longboard varied from 9-24 feet of solid wood and did not have a leash plug or fancy removable fin.
The history of longboards and surfing history comes a long way and seeing the evolution of it throughout the years is breathtaking. When some people were not allowed to surf longboards because they were not “kings” to now, people are starting out on longboards. Makes surfing one of the oldest sports but not so popular sports. Since the longboards much bigger it makes sense that it floats, balances, and holds more weight than other surfboards.
Where it all comes from
Though these were more commonly used in the sixth century by ancient Hawaiians, the longboards of today are made a much more reasonable length and weight. They do not have to be 24 feet long and are not as heavy as they used to be. But the longboard size does start at 9 feet for anybody that does surf and compete in longboarding.
In today’s surf competitions, judges measure your longboard to make sure you have at least a 9 feet surfboard to be able to compete in the longboard division. Now you cannot surf a longboard in the shortboard division either, the maximum height is 8 feet.
The longboard was the standard until the 1960’s when the shorter version surfboard was introduced. The shortboard was more popular because the size made the board easier to transport to and from the beach as well as in and out of the water. It also looks much cooler to the young kids that are watching the World Surf League championships tour events which are all performance shortboards.
The smaller board also offered more maneuverability and more speed. Allowing the surfer to move the surfboard a lot easier and doing tricks and maneuvers that could never be done on a longboard. With the introduction of polyurethane and fiberglass for the shortboard, the longboard was refurbished and reintroduced in the 1990s.
Now lighter, the longboard became more of an interest to avid surfers. Surfers began to integrate the new attributes of the shortboard with the sleek lines of the once dominating longboard.
Modern longboards have become shorter in length, now averaging 9ft-10ft instead of the original 9ft-24ft. Even though the long surfboard is now shorter in length, it still retains most of its original design, including the single fin for stability. Some modern longboards also allow for the surfer to add two smaller side fins to make it more like a shortboard. But when adding more fins, the maneuverability of the longboard is harder. Which is why most surfers will surf a longboard with a single fin.
Different types of longboard fins
Back in the day, the fins were what we call “glass-on fins” which were resin shaped into the back of the surfboard and not removable. Nowadays, we have what we call “fin plugs” which allow surfers to remove and change fins whenever needed. It is also much easier to travel with a longboard that has removable fins than one with a glass-on fin.
When a glass on fin breaks, the entire fin has to be reshaped and sometimes not doable. Which means that the entire longboard will not be able to be surfed again. In today’s world with so much technology, if a fin breaks, you just take it out and buy a new one. Or if the fin plug breaks, you can repair it and replace the fin plug.
Because Longboards are longer and do not require the surfer to gain a lot of speed from a bigger wave, the need for maneuverability isn’t as high as with the shortboard. The longboard has its advantages for the beginning surfer since it is more stable and easier for a beginner to balance and stand up for the first time on.
The length and weight of the board make catching waves easier. That is why most people will surf a longboard on smaller days, and then will bring out the shortboard for bigger days. Surfers can literally Hang-ten on these larger boards. This is accomplished by standing on the nose of the longboard with your toes hanging off the end. By putting -toes on the nose- a surfer can -hang-ten-. Surf Terms and tricks can all be found for longboards. Professional longboard surfers have been able to accomplish some tricks and maneuvers that surfers do on a shortboard. But it does take a lot more speed and power to execute them.
Longboards are to this day the surfboard that will always keep its original shape. They will always be looked like an old school board and will always be remodeled for better performance. But after all, a longboard is a magic surfboard that you can just chill and enjoy your session with. It is slower and a lot more fun than a shortboard. A longboard allows you to ride long waves and catch small waves.
If you have yet never tried surfing a longboard. I would head on over to your local surf shop and rent one out for the day. You will gain the appreciation behind this great surfboard.