Defining a longboard surfboard is a difficult task because they come in such a wide range of shapes and sizes. Although they are extremely varied, longboards are surfboards over 9 feet in length that have a rounded nose at the top edge of the board. The shape, length, material, width, and fin set ups are up to the personal preference of the boardrider. Longboards are often more suitable than shortboards in smaller waves as their size allows the rider to catch waves much easier.
Longboards were the epitome of early surfing and helped shape the surf culture into what it is today. The earliest recorded histories of surfing date back to Polynesian waveriders in Hawaii surfing atop massive boat-like boards. These early longboards were often carved from local trees and would range from 10 to 20 feet long.
Today longboard shapes depend solely upon the personal preference of the boardrider. While most contemporary longboards are made from foam and fiberglass, there is still a lot of variation when it comes to materials. Many of the longboards seen in the lineups today are generally between nine and twelve feet and are much thinner than their early relatives. Lots of boardriders prefer a classic log (a larger, retro style surfboard with little board rocker) for doing old-school noseriding such as hanging their toes off the front of the surfboard in the critical section of the wave. Other surfers like using smaller and more modern shapes that aid in maneuverability and high performance tricks.
The development of surfboard fins changed the sport forever. One of the major problems with early longboards was control. These early surfboards had nothing underneath them that would allow the board to grip the water below. Fortunately fins were created in the early 1900s which allowed for the rider to easily maneuver their board.
Modern fins used in longboards today also vary with some riders preferring a long single fin and others liking a 2 + 1 setup (one large fin in the middle with two small side bite fins on each side) for better maneuverability.
The longboard pictured above will be featured at the Surf Culture Museum. This Wave Riding Vehicles longboard incorporates many old-school longboard features including its glassed-on wooden single fin, wooden tail block, triple wooden stringer, small rocker shape, and grip on the nose for increased nose riding. Its dimensions are 10’ 0’’ (length) x 23’’ (width) x 3 and 1/16’’ (thickness).