A Shortcut to Longboarding - By Claire Smail

Saltrock Ambassador Claire Smail is well versed in longboarding, having been British Champion and continuously reaching the finals in successive competitions, but do you know what longboarding really is? Read on to find out more about longboarding, and how to get into the sport!

Longboarding is arguably the traditional form of surfing that gained its popularity in the 50’s and 60’s. It simply consists of riding a surfboard longer than 9 foot in length.

At the age of forty and living a mere 25 miles from the nearest surfing beach, my dad decided to give it a go, and so a few years later I was lucky enough to borrow his longboard to learn myself and the rest as they say ‘is history’.

As the summer swells begin to roll more gently into our coast, now might be the time you start to think; how can I have the most fun out in the water, what do I need to catch more waves or even how can I be the person getting the longest rides? The answer could be a longboard. 

Getting into it is pretty easy, you start by finding one. If you can borrow any surfboard over 9 foot, give it a go and see how you get on.  You might find a 9 to 9’2 board that is relatively light weight, with two (smaller side) plus one (large centre) fin set up which is probably going to be more of a progressive board – great for turning, generating speed and surfing steeper, faster wave.

If you get your hands on a longboard with only one, large centre fin (single fin) that is noticeably heavier, wider and around the 9’6 size you have found yourself a great longboard for smaller, slower, summer waves.  As soon as the swell sizes drops, there is nothing better than paddling out on a single fin for cruisy, mellow surf that you can practise your nose riding skills on.

Borrowing or hiring a couple of different board types is a great way to find the board that you can have the most fun on at your local wave.

Claire's Top Tips for Learning to Longboard

1. Always wax the length of your surfboard, to encourage you to move on it.

2. When picking a longboard, see if you can comfortably carry it under you arm.

3. When you are out in a line up, keep looking around to find the best waves

4. Until you get use to your longboard I would say don't try to turn the board (from the rail), concentrate on turning from the tail.

5. If you feel the need to move try to do it with a cross step, as shuffling is a habit hard to break.

6. Try stalling the board before you cross step by putting your weight onto your back foot before moving forward.

7. Try to nose ride on the steeper part of the wave face as the board will be more stable.

8. I always try to start the wave with a good bottom turn to help generate speed.

9. Make the most of catching the waves early. 

 Check out the boards Claire uses to catch the best waves!