As with any sport, there are different types of equipment that are better suited for different aspects. With surfing, there are two main categories of boards: longboards and shortboards. Here are some of the main differences between the two styles of boards:
Style and materials:
As the name suggests, longboards are longer than their shortboard counterparts.
Longboards are generally eight feet plus, wider rounded noses and a lot more foam volume.
Shortboards range from about five to seven feet long, and have an upturned tip (nose rocker). Usually, short boards have two to four fins.
Longboards are the traditional style of surfboard, and as such, are more commonly used. Longer boards are better for beginners or for surfers who prefer the style and grace of surfing a longboard, Longboards are more forgiving and stable allowing beginners the stability needed to learn how to balance on a surfbaord. Because of the length and volume of a longboard they are also easier to paddle and catch waves.
Longer boards are also better suited for dropping into giant swells and big waves.
Shortboards offer more responsiveness, maneuverability, which allows skilled and professional surfers to do amazing maneuvers and tricks. Surfboards with less length are better for making sharp cuts in the waves, as well as picking up more speed, because there is less surface area.
Riding a shorter board is all about timing, because the board moves and responds to the surfer quicker. The more knowledge of surfing or, more specifically, the waves, the better you’ll be able to maximize the speed of the shortboard and better harness its power.
The bottom line:
As with most sports, there’s no right answer to which type of equipment to use. Instead, it’s about the surfer’s comfort level, preference, skill and ability, and the type of waves.
Why not try both types? If you’re purchasing your first surfboard — or your sixth — test out multiple styles to figure out what suits your body and style best. Rent different board types for a few days to find your new favorite, and what works best for surfing in Hawaii.