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Longboarding vs Shortboarding: A conversation with Victoria Vergara, Mason Schremmer, Erin Brooks, and Brisa Hennessy.
The debate of whether to ride a longboard or a shortboard has long existed among surfers, with strong arguments supporting each side. Longboards are fun and cruisey, shortboards are fast and manoeuvrable.
If you’re new to the lineup, let’s give you a quick overview.
The main differences between the two include the length, shape, fin set up, volume, and the types of waves they’re intended to be surfed in. Traditionally, longboards are considered to be above 9ft in length, whereas a shortboard can range from anything around 5ft to about 7ft. Longboards are high in volume, they paddle easily, and offer lots of stability on the wave. Longboarders often ooze style and grace as they cross-step up and down the length of the board. Nose rides, hanging 10, and cheetah 5’s are all tricks you will find in a talented long boarder’s repertoire.
Shortboards on the other hand are designed to turn easily, be highly responsive, and are surfed in more critical waves. The most common fin set up you’ll find on a shortboard is what’s called a ‘thruster’ which consists of three fins. You will also see twin fins (two), quads (four fins), and even five fin setups. Conversely, longboards often feature one large single fin, or a large centre fin with two smaller fins on each side.
When you’re picturing surfers hitting the lip, throwing an air, or getting barrelled they’re probably riding a shortboard. Whether you choose to ride a shortboard, longboard, or mix it up between the two, what matters most is catching waves and having fun. We decided to call on some of our most talented female surfers to help weigh in on the debate.
Victoria Vergara & Mason Schremmer (Professional surfers on the World Longboard Tour)
What made you choose longboarding primarily over shortboarding?
Mason: I started surfing on a longboard in Waikiki when I was about 11 or 12 and there were some really amazing longboarders I would regularly see in the water, and I think that’s what initially inspired me to ride longboards. I really like that I can incorporate my own style into longboarding, and I feel like the way I surf is a reflection of my personality. The heavy glassing, single fins, and long outlines of longboards allow you to draw longer lines through your turns and set yourself up in the sweet spot of a wave. Having a longboard also allows you to utilise the whole length of the board for manoeuvres; the nose for hanging five and ten, the mid-section for trimming and picking up speed, and the tail for turning.
The approach of longboarding was more appealing to me. I was drawn to the style, the flow, and the dance that is created on the wave. I was also really tall and skinny growing up, so it was more suited to who I was.[I find] longboarding feels a bit more feminine than shortboarding. The feeling of hanging ten, flying over the wave, is really addictive. The first time I surfed a longboard, I fell in love right away. Longboarding is an art, a way for me to be creative in the ocean. And I loved that I was catching twice as many waves per session.
- Victoria Vergara
What do you like about being able to surf both long and shortboards?
Victoria: I love riding them both. I love trimming along the wave on a longboard and drawing different lines than on a shortboard. I think it’s easier and more fun to party wave with your friends on longboards. But shortboarding pushes me out of my comfort zone and allows me to get more radical and to get barrelled. I think a good surfer should be able to ride any type of board.
Mason: I sometimes ride shortboards or mid lengths and I really enjoy it. Riding shorter boards lets me sit deeper and surf different sections than I would on a longboard. I feel like riding different types of boards is great because I’m able to surf more days than not. Sometimes you just have to pick the right board for the day, even if that’s a surf mat [laughs]. When the waves are good, I usually pack as many boards as I can fit into my car.
Why should someone take up longboarding?
Victoria: It’s easier to stand up and find balance, you will catch more waves and you can surf a longboard in pretty much all conditions.
Mason: You don’t need pumping waves to ride a longboard and it can be a fun way to hang out with friends and just go for a paddle and a chat. If you’re learning to surf, then having a bigger board will also make it easier to paddle and catch waves and helps you to not feel discouraged when you’re just starting out. Riding a longboard allows you to take the time to learn to read the wave and teaches you to connect with the ocean through the laid back style that comes with riding bigger boards. Longboarding is also a great way to tap into surfing history since that’s where it all started.
Why should someone choose shortboarding?
Victoria: If you live close to a wave that is hollow and short, I recommend choosing a shortboard over a longboard. I would also recommend a shortboard if you are wanting to do aerials and progressive manoeuvres.
Team Shortboard - Brisa Hennessy & Erin Brooks
Professional surfer on the World Championship Tour & Shortboard prodigy
What made you choose shortboarding?
Brisa: I think it was a combination of different influences in my life. I remember watching my dad and my uncle Greg always surfing a shortboard, and then of course growing up watching Tyler, Steph, and Carissa. It was so inspiring to see those women bring grace, power, and female flare to such a male dominated sport.
Erin: I actually learned to surf on a stand-up paddleboard because it was easier to paddle and catch waves on, but it was also hard to turn. I tried longboarding and it was fun, but I really wanted to do more dynamic turns and aerials, so I chose to ride a shortboard. Riding a short board allows me to feel like I’m attacking a wave and I love that!
Why should someone choose longboarding?
I think longboarding is perfect for people who have a more relaxed approach and want the opportunity to catch more waves in a variety of conditions
- Brisa Hennessy
Do you ever swap between riding a longboard and shortboard?
Brisa: Longboarding is honestly the biggest release for me. At times I love it even more than shortboarding. Being able to let go, be free and not have any expectations is the true foundation of my love for surfing. There is no better feeling than finding the flow of the wave on a longboard and it allows you to share more relaxed surfs with the people you love.
Erin: I rarely longboard but it is really fun when the waves are small, and when you just want to have fun with friends.
Why should someone choose shortboarding?
Brisa: I think shortboarding is perfect for those who want to focus more on speed, manoeuvrability, and really challenge themselves to take their surfing to the next level.
Erin: Shortboards are great if you enjoy more progressive surfing and action sports.
They are also much easier to transport and travel with if you’re on the search!