Fuking longboarders,” the kid said under his breath. I was sitting at the peak on a 9’6, while he was a little ways inside on a 5-something. He was probably 14, and by the looks of it, was pretty new to surfing. He was not new, however, to the age old longboarder vs. shortboarder war. He didn’t say it to me, and he didn’t say it for any reason other than his own frustration–I hadn’t dropped in on him or taken too many set waves–but he said it, and I heard it.
The thing about that day was that the waves weren’t good… for a regular shortbard, anyway. Small, slopey and gutless, they didn’t offer enough push for anything other than a longboard. But for a longboard, it was fantastic. Long, glassy runners, crumbling slowly as they made their way towards shore. The kid, when he was able to catch one, pumped his way down the line, arms flailing frantically in an effort to just keep surfing. It was hard to watch. All I wanted was to tell that kid to get out of his shortboards-only mentality. I wanted him to have more fun, because he looked miserable. And if surfing is making you miserable, you’re doing it wrong. Logging might make you do it a little more right.
1. Shitty days aren’t so shitty. If you’re stuck riding a surfboard made for “good” waves, chances are good that there are going to be a lot of days where you leave the water frustrated. “Good” waves aren’t all that common, for the most part. But on those days where the forecast reads 1-2 foot, you’re still stoked.
2. It’ll make you a better surfer. Longboarding is a good way to figure out wave mechanics. Since everything is a little more drawn out, you need to predict what the wave is going to do sooner than you’d have to if you were riding a shortboard. Understanding what a wave is going to do down the line will inevitably help out when the waves get good enough to ride a shortboard again.
3. You’ll have more friends. In a lot of places, shortboarders and longboarders tend to stick together. It’s not all that often you’ll see a group that includes both. But if you surf in the same place often enough, you’re going to start making friends with people out there. Riding a longboard makes it a little easier to talk to the older guys on them, and they’re the ones with the stories worth listening to.
4. You’ll get way more waves. Everyone wants more waves. On a longboard, you get more waves. It’s that simple. Waves that you wouldn’t even consider paddling for on a shortboard become waves that you’re ridiculously excited about. Waves that you would have considered shitty are no longer shitty. Your wave count skyrockets, and you end up being a happier person.
5. Variety is the spice of life. If you ate chicken every single day for the rest of your life, you’d get bored of chicken. Sure, you might get really good at eating chicken, but every now and then, a pork chop tastes pretty damn good. Longboarding and shortboarding are very different things, and learning something new will give you something else to get excited about.