The type of surfboard you choose will make a huge difference to the way you surf. There are a number of different factors to take into consideration when choosing between a longboard and a shorter board for surfing. Each has its pro’s and cons. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference and skill.
Maneuverability, or how easy it is to turn the board is one of these factors. The question is, do longboards turn slower than shorter surfboards? The quick answer is yes and here’s why:
1. The Length
It all comes down to simple physics, longer objects are more difficult to turn than shorter objects. The main reason is that they create greater resistance. Larger objects have a greater surface area and therefore greater resistance than smaller objects. And this is no different when it comes to a longboard.
Pick up a short stick and twist it from side to side as quickly as possible. Now pick up a much longer stick and do the same. It is impossible to twist the longer stick at the same speed. A longer board reacts, in the same way, turning much slower than a shorter board.
2. The Weight
Longboards are heavier than shorter boards and the rule is that heavier objects take longer to turn or have less maneuverability. This is primarily because of the forces of gravity on a heavier object. Apply the same test twisting a light stick and then a heavy stick and you will notice that the heavier the stick, the more difficult it becomes to turn.
3. The Speed
Speed plays a huge role in maneuverability. The rule is that the faster an object moves, the longer it is going to take to turn. Think about driving a car – you have to slow down to make a sharp turn or risk over-turning the vehicle. The same applies to your surfboard – the faster you are travelling, the slower you are going to turn.
Longboards are slower than shortboards and should therefore turn faster. However, the length and weight of the board reduce the turning circle significantly enough that the speed has less of an effect but creates more stability in a turn. Also, when your longboard reaches a speed where it is travelling along the surface of the water, it is creating less resistance and has a greater hull speed which means it can go as fast as a shortboard creating an even greater turning circle.
4. Hydrodynamics And Aerodynamics
A surfboard is curved to aid with maneuverability. The bottom of the board curves at the front and the back. This curvature is called the rocker and improves the hydrodynamics of the board. The curve at the back of the board makes it easier or harder to turn the board. A longboard is traditionally flatter than a shortboard and therefore doesn’t have the same maneuverability. In other words, it is slower to turn.
The nose of the board can also make a small difference to turning speed. A shortboard has a pointed nose and a longboard a rounder nose. The rounder nose has a greater surface area and therefore creates greater air resistance. Because the nose of the board is in the air, the same principle used for flight can be applied. A pointier object is more aerodynamic and therefore easier to turn than a rounder or flatter object.
While a longboard is slower to turn than a shorter one, there are other advantages. The longer board is more stable in the water, easier to stand on and has better momentum. There are also a few ways to increase the speed of a longboard. Surfing style, the rocker and the fin can all help improve maneuverability on a longboard.
At Beachin Surf, we offer a wide variety of surfing essentials. We have surfboards, wetsuits, board bags, clothing, footwear, accessories and surf hardware. We are more than happy to help you with your surfing journey.
For all your surfing essentials, please visit us at 262 Maine Road, Toukley, NSW. You can also call ahead to make sure we are there to assist you properly.
Please call us today on (02) 4396 5159 or feel free to send us an inquiry.