What is a Shortboard?


Featured Shortboard

The Lucas Surfboards shortboard pictured below will be physically displayed at the Surf Culture Museum. This old-school shortboard was created by the Saint Augustine local shaper John Lucas using foam and polyester resin. This classic shortboard features a retro rocker, pulled in swallow tail, and thruster fin setup. The underside of the board also boasts the Sun’n Surf Shop Team logo indicating that it was built for an experienced rider who was part of Saint Augustine’s  Sun’n Surf Shop surf team.

Defining Shortboards

Shortboards, similar to their larger relative the longboard, are extremely hard to categorize. With shortboards ranging in various sizes, materials, and shapes, many different kinds of surfboards fall into the shortboard classification. Any surfboard under seven feet in length can technically be placed into this group. Shortboards are often used in larger surf opposed to a longboard for their enhanced maneuverability and high performance wave riding capabilities.  


While shortboards have been around for quite some time, more modern variations of the shortboard began gaining popularity in the 1960s. Surfers in Hawaii, California, and Australia began experimenting with these new board designs in order to utilize different parts of the waves. With these new designs, surfers could now do faster maneuvers in tighter and steeper areas of the waves without wiping out. Shortboards helped to open up a brand new high-performance aspect to the sport. 

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Shortboards Today

Modern shortboards lead the way in today’s high performance surf culture. Whether it be professional surfers charging large waves in Hawaii, or young kids trying new aerial maneuvers in a wave pool, shortboards are always under their feet. With regards to high performance surfing, most modern shortboards have a similar layout as they most frequently have a close template, thruster fin setup, and a squash tail. Although high performance surfboards have become increasingly similar, like all things in surfing, board preference is up to each individual rider. 


Shortboard surfboards have fins that are usually set up one of three different ways. They are frequently ridden as either a thruster, quad, or twin setup. 

Thrusters consist of three fins spaced precisely along the back of the surfboard. Thrusters are the most popular fins with regards to modern day high performance surfing as the trailer fin gives the rider the most control and drive. 

Quad fins allow riders to go extremely fast because there is no trailer fin in the back to slow down the surfboard. While this four fin setup is ideal for speeding down the waves, riders lose some control in exchange for speed. 

The twin fin, or two fin setup, is similar to quads in the sense that the rider is giving up some control in exchange for speed. Lots of older surfers prefer this fin setup. It is now being viewed as “retro” as it was one of the original fin outlines.