After a year of lockdowns, there’s something increasingly attractive about the simple life: wide-open spaces, home-grown veggies and… the retro-chill of longboarding.
Think little waves peeling around sheltered points, boy-leg bikini bottoms, salt-encrusted skin, and stepping lightly down the length of a sturdy 9-foot-plus board.
Hawaiian surfing royalty and current CT competitor, Coco Ho, read the mood in June, posting mid-flight video footage of her toes deftly making their way to the tip of a Thomas Bexon surfboard. “Longboarding, my now not-so-secret love,” she later declared.
This revelation only earned her more respect. In fact, the best surfers can do it all. They move easily amongst boards: long, short, skate or snow depending on the conditions.
Longboards make the average day of surf extremely fun
Hawaiian and now Noosa local Sierra Lerback grew up competing on shortboards. “However, I do love how longboards make the average day of surf extremely fun. You’ve got a greater variety of waves to choose from”.
Fellow American Mason Schremmer has ridden both from the start too. She says each is fun in its own way. But longboarding taught her “how to flow and enjoy doing nothing on a wave”, and she found the people at contest level much less intense.
Queenslander Kathryn Hughes also surfs both but says longboards win hands down. “Longboarding has a more mellow flow, and walking on a board while surfing a wave is the best feeling ever. No matter what size conditions, I’ll go for it.”
Current world number 5, Tully White, fell in love with longboarding at age 12 while holidaying in Byron Bay. “I remember surfing The Pass on a mini mal the first time, exploring moving up and down the board and the way this affected my speed. I was hooked from then on”.
Not convinced? Here are five reasons why we love our longboards.
1. They’re great in smaller waves
As Sierra Lerback points out, the buoyancy of longboards provides more surfing options. When the swell drops, you can just grab your board and have fun with it, even in the tiniest waves.
2. They’re ideal for learning, no matter your age
Longboards are more stable, they’re easier to paddle and quick to stand up on. It’s not surprising then that three-time World Champion Mick Fanning’s partner, Breeana, is often seen on her new longboard with baby Xander.
3. They’re surfing’s Yin
Longboarding’s uber chill culture is the perfect antidote to shortboard “aggression”. Even in competition, WSL Longboard Tour judges are looking for style, flow and grace. Don’t be fooled, though: in bigger waves and on critical sections, an experienced longboarder can execute traditional moves with enormous speed and power.
4. They’re works of art
Longboards are crafted using skills honed over many years and knowledge passed through generations. The best can set you back around $2,500 (AUD) or more. Look for artistic flourishes like purist Ryan Lovelace’s hand-shaped-only models; pioneer Bob McTavish’s collaboration with Sydney interior designer Sibella Court; and Thomas Bexon’s gorgeous retro finishes.
5. They’re platforms for individual expression
Flamboyant to demure, anything goes in longboarding. Tully White explains that while manoeuvres like nose rides and turns may be considered standard, everyone performs them in their own unique style. For her, it’s a cool way of expressing her femininity in the water. “Along with being super fun and inclusive, this is probably why women’s longboarding is growing so quickly, and I’m really proud to be part of the movement!”
Welcome to the dance floor, ladies.