The world of professional surfing involves a fascinating mix of passion, skills, and choice of the right equipment. Among the variety of options available, pro surfers often prefer to ride waves on shortboards. In this article, we'll take a look at the main characteristics that make these compact boards a top pick for surfing champions.
Advantages and features of shortboards
Many top athletes prefer to conquer waves on shortboards because of their length and lightweight design. The combo of these two features allows surfers to realize the most ambitious and creative wave moves. Find out what other benefits that shortboards provide below.
1. Maneuverability and freedom of choice
One of the main advantages of shortboards is their high maneuverability. Surfers on shortboards can easily change direction and perform tight turns and maneuvers, creating an exhilarating experience and offering an incredible sense of freedom.
2. Progressive tricks and extreme
Shortboards are a top choice for those pro surfers who wish to master their skills and perform difficult tricks. This is possible thanks to the characteristics of shortboards: shorter length, which can be just 1.5 meters, smaller volume, and thin design. This allows surfers to rise to the crests of waves and perform high-tech movements involved in extreme sports.
3. Surf bigger waves
Surfers who prefer shortboards often choose larger, steeper waves. That’s all because these boards provide a better grip on steep wave slopes, allowing surfers to test the limits of their skill and courage.
4. Aesthetics and style
In addition to technical benefits, shortboards are often chosen by surfers for their aesthetics and style. Overtly aggressive shapes and bright designs of boards become a unique expression of a surfer's personality.
5. Fast wave travel
Shortboards have a specific shape that allows surfers to move along the surface of the wave easily. This gives them the ability to maintain high speed, which is especially important when performing complex tricks and freeriding.
6. Development of surf culture
The choice of shortboards represents the current direction in the development of surfing culture. Surfers who follow trends and strive for excellence in their craft prefer shortboards as a tool for self-expression and adaptation to new challenges in surfing.
7. Difficulties of training and experience
Don't forget that shortboard surfing requires a certain level of experience. Beginners may find it difficult to master control and balance on a shortboard and may want to start with longer options before moving on to short ones.
8. No physical limitations
Shortboards are suitable for both large-bodied and petite athletes. Among the most notable shortboard adherents are 188 cm tall John John Florence and only 160 cm tall Caitlin Simmers.
Tips on how to choose a suitable shortboard
Choosing the right shortboard is key for every surfer, regardless of their experience level. Here are the key aspects to help you pick the right shortboard and maximize surfing fun.
First, determine your level of experience. Beginners are advised to choose shortboards that are bulkier and more stable, while more experienced surfers may opt for lighter, more nimble models.
Shortboard size plays a key role. The general rule is that the smaller the board, the greater the maneuverability and difficulty in controlling it. The typical shortboard length ranges from approximately 1.68 meters to 1.98 meters, with a width from 43.18 cm to 50.8 cm and weighs between 2.5 kilograms and 4.5 kilograms. Choose a size that suits your height, weight, and fitness level. The taller and bigger you are, the bigger the board you need.
Different nose shapes affect control and maneuvering. A round nose provides stability, while a sharp nose allows for easy turning. The shape of the tail also affects the behavior of the board in the water.
A squash tail increases stability and speed, making it suitable for various wave conditions. A round tail provides a smooth and flowing feel on the wave, offering a balance between control and maneuverability.
A bat or thumb tail offers a balance between control and release and can be found in some modern shortboard designs. A swallow tail boosts the board’s speed and movability, especially in smaller waves, while a pin tail is better for larger, more powerful waves.
Thickness and volume
The thickness and volume of a shortboard affect how it behaves on the wave. A larger volume can be beneficial for beginners by providing stability, while thinner models are suitable for more experienced athletes. Shortboards typically have a thickness ranging from approximately 4.5 to 7.5 cm with a typical volume ranging between 20 to 35 liters.
Material and design
Different board materials and designs can affect their weight, strength, and responsiveness. Polyurethane boards are usually lighter, while epoxy boards can be more durable.
Consider the nature of the waves you plan to surf. Different types of waves require different board characteristics. For example, beach waves are suitable for a broader range of models than reef waves.
Brand and reviews
According to Nulltuul, there are currently more than 200 surf brands. That’s why before buying a board, it’s better to research the market and read customer reviews. Among shortboards, the most popular brands currently are Channel Islands, Lost Surfboards, JS Industries, Firewire Surfboards, Haydenshapes, Rusty Surfboards, Pyzel Surfboards, DHD Surfboards, Sharp Eye Surfboards and Album Surf. While deciding on which brand to choose, you can rely on the experience of other surfers.
For entry-level, shortboard prices can range from $200 to $500; intermediate and advanced boards – typically ranging from $500 to $800, high-performance or custom ones – can exceed $800 and go up to $1,500, while used shortboards might cost you just $150. If you don’t have any budget restrictions, you can buy several boards you like at once.
Choosing a shortboard is an individual process that requires careful weighing of various factors. Don't forget that it’s not only an investment in equipment but also in the enjoyment of your favorite sport.