how to choose a longboard surfboard

Longboard surfing has been at the core of surfing since its inception, with the pioneers of the sport riding long timber boards. There is now an array of surfboard designs and styles in various lengths and volumes, with each style providing a completely different riding experience. 

Why You Should Choose A Longboard Surfboard

Longboard surfboards offer a more traditional style and can be used by beginners and experts alike. You can perform manoeuvres and learn how to walk the board and even nose ride. 

Furthermore, the increased volume makes longboards easier to paddle and catch waves when compared to shorter-style boards. Therefore, you won't tire as easily and can enjoy the waves all day.

A longboard surfboard is a fantastic addition to the quiver of any surfer, whether you are just starting or have been surfing your whole life. 

What Should I Look For In A Longboard Surfboard?

There are different designs of longboards, with the main element of difference being where the highest mass is in the board. These slight changes in design affect how the board performs in different conditions and how easy it is to turn or how stable it is. 

There are three common outlines of a longboard, these are:

  • Wide point forward - where is more volume at the nose of the board.
  • Wide point back - Where more of the volume is situated in the tail of the board.
  • Parallel rails - The board's weight sits in the middle, providing a parallel rail with a thinner nose and tail.
man riding on a wave

A surfboard can be looked at in two halves. We are provided with speed, grip and stability when we engage a front rail. We disengage the rail and put our weight on the tail; we can pivot the board, providing us with manoeuvrability and responsiveness. 

The widest point of the board (often the part with the most volume) determines where the divide in these controls sits and how the speed, grip and stability or manoeuvrability and responsiveness are affected. 

We will now look at the different longboard surfboard outlines and how the volume affects these elements. 

Wide Point Back Longboard Surfboard 

Moving the widest point of the board further back results in a board that is easier to turn, and by reducing the weight in the nose of the board, the swing is increased. This results in a board that is a dream to carve and tune. 

Furthermore, reducing the width of the nose reduces the chance of catching the inside rail on the face of the wave, meaning you can surf the board closer to the critical part of the wave. 

There is a disadvantage to this type of outline. The rail line will naturally pull away from the face of the wave and, with less lift on the nose due to the reduced surface area, means that there is less support for the rider when the nose riding on softer sections of the wave. 

Overall this wide-back outline is best for steeper waves and more experienced surfers if nose riding is your goal.

Parallel Railed Longboard Surfboard

When we move the weight to the mid-point of the surfboard, we have an outline where the nose and tail are of similar width, and with an increased nose width, we see increased stability when the surfboard is in trim. There is also an overall increased surface area to the board, meaning you gain more lift and thrust. This quality is particularly useful when riding soft waves or nose riding. 

This is one of the most common longboard outlines, as it offers an equilibrium between speed and stability and manoeuvrability, making it an overall great longboard outline. 

When the nose and tail are widened further, we see the classic log longboard surfboard, one of the most popular styles, and one Wetsuit Centre stocks many of, with options suitable for beginners through to advanced skill levels. 

These boards can be surfed on softer, flatter waves, and you can nose ride further away from the critical curve of the wave. Making this outline more beginner and user-friendly. 

One of the downsides to a parallel rail longboard is that it can be harder to manoeuvre and break out of the wave face.


Wide Point Forward Longboard Surfboards 

A longboard with a wide area of the deck towards the front will provide you with an increased lift of the nose. The rail line will pull the nose into the wave face, and with the huge surface area under the nose, the ride can rely on the speed and stability as they walk forward on the board, making these an excellent choice for nose riding. 

The minimal width in the tail of this outline allows for smooth manoeuvrability when the rider transfers their weight to the tailing, allowing you to switch from one rail to the other. 

This outline of the board performs exceptionally well on soft waves with little to no steep face.

Which Longboard Surfboard Outline Should I Choose?

This will depend on two things:

  1. Your skill level on a longboard. If you have confidence in a number of advanced longboarding techniques, then you may enjoy the challenge of the wide-point back outline. Whereas if you are new to longboard surfing, then a wide point forward may be of more assistance to your progression in the water. 
  2. Secondly, you need to consider your local breaks. Do the waves break with a steep face? Or are they regularly smooth and have a softer braking face? For a less vertical take-off, a parallel or wide point forward outline would be most beneficial, but with a steep takeout, the wide point back may support you better. 

Consider A Performance Longboard 

For the more advanced surfer, a performance longboard could be an exciting addition to your quiver. High-performance longboard surfboard characteristics are the opposite of nose riders. Performance longboards allow you to catch a wave like you're on a shortboard. When compared to nose riders, high-performance longboards have much less volume, a narrower outline, a harsher rocker, and usually feature a 2+1 or quad-fin setup rather than a single fin. 

High-performance longboard surfboards work best in steeper and critical waves because they have narrower noses and more rocker. These longboards are not ideal for beginners because the learning curve is much more difficult due to the higher speeds.


What Is The Best Longboard For Beginners?

If you are just starting out in the world of surfing, our biggest piece of advice is that you buy a longboard foam surfboard while you perfect the basics. 

However, if you are ready to progress to your first hard top board, then a longboard is the most effective choice. We have a range of beginner surfboards that will help you progress from beginner to intermediate. 

What Size Longboard Surfboard Should I Get For My Height And Weight?

The final question you should be asking yourself before purchasing a longboard surfboard is, what size surfboard do you need? 

Longboards typically come between 8-12 feet. You should choose a longboard that is approximately 3 feet longer than your height. The best way to figure out how much volume you need in your surfboard is to use a surfboard calculator such as this one from surfer today.

If you have any questions or concerns when purchasing a surfboard, please don't hesitate to contact us; we are always happy to help!