Essential Pros and Cons a Shortboard Surfer Needs to Know and Deal with for better performance

Shortboarding Is a Sin


There is no creature as base and vile as a short boarder, the soulless demon that has forgotten what it is to be alone with the sea and what surfing needs to be at its core.

Instead, being a shortboard surfer is all about bells, whistles, and cheap tricks they need to revel in at other surfers’ expense.

In other words, as a surfer, you need to refrain from ever touching a shortboard — or else you may get into trouble.

Let us hope your inner Sheldon Cooper did not prevent you from grasping the sarcastic concept of the paragraph above. I am not trying to convince any surfer that shortboards are evil.

The point is that some equipment (like a shortboard) does not fit all the categories of surfers, so we need to open another series of useful articles that will help any surfer with this difficult choice.

Hopefully, you will find something that fits your style needs and skills.

Believe it or not, the co-author has been a shortboard surfer for more than ten years. We asked this person to point out the hardest and most depressing things in the surfer’s career he needed to overcome dealing with shortboards.

Our goal is simply to give you a chance to learn something useful you may need from all of this.

Of course, shortboards are not forbidden or anything, and there are lots of surfers engaging in this joyful activity, so you need to refer to the ‘pros-oriented’ article if you need to know more about shortboards.

But before we jump into the thick of it, there is a need to become scientific with regard to definitions. If you are already familiar with the theory, you are free to skip three paragraphs below and go straight to point #1.


Surfboards can be of various lengths, but it is not the deciding factor for surfers.

A shortboard is basically a modern surfboard with specific sets of fins for better performance.

Most common are shortboards with three fins, although sets of four are also popular in shortboards among surfers these days. Twins and super twins on shortboards are an option for skillful surfers as well.

What is more important in defining a shortboard is the way it gains power and why surfers need rails. The shortboard construction is thin, and the shortboard will slow down when moving forward.

In order to keep going, a surfer needs to rock from rail to rail and make proper use of fins. The built-up pressure needs to be released later.

You can see many pro shots and tricks in surfing magazines and most of those are referred to shortboards.

But this does not mean a shortboard is your cup of tea and everything you need. Despite its benefits, it also has a number of cons all the surfers know about.

What are these setbacks and downfalls for surfers you need to know about? Now, we need to give you a big list.

Five Reasons for a Surfer to Avoid Shortboards


1. Small Wave = Big Trouble: There are times surfers only have small waves at their disposal.

They are also long and pretty drowsy. They simply do not have enough power for your shortboard to perform at its best.

So, the rule is “Long Wave = Big Board”. Such waves are easier to catch with a big surfboard rather than a shortboard due to its weight and floating capability.

While riding a wave, a surfer needs to keep the gained momentum, and you do not need to get slowed down while moving straight.

The same goes for low waves. Again, a surfer needs something longer and wider than a shortboard for improved performance.

You may see surfers still trying to conquer small waves with shortboards, desperately clutching at waves, trying to stay on top while constantly rocking and balancing on their shortboards.

It is an easy way to make such a surfer furious and nothing more.

Surfers need to understand this simple thing of using the right equipment in certain conditions.

old surfer

2. Your Age Works Against You: At some point, every aging surfer starts considering safer options and other board types. The body does not respond as well as before, longer sessions take more time to recover from, and the risk of injury is also greater.

Shortboards are simply incompatible with advanced age.

Shortboards need to be quick, so they need a quick response from a surfer due to the sheer number of maneuvers and postures used in every single ride.

It gets harder as you age, and an aging surfer may need to leave shortboards to younger generations.

For a surfer over thirty (this age may vary), it might be a good thing to add a few inches to the surfboard every few years. A hybrid board will be a great improvement.

Of course, some people keep fit much better than others — like Curren and Occy. If you are fit and can ride a shortboard as well as twenty years back, then there is simply no need to quit shortboards just because you are ‘getting old’.

Now it is more about the need to control your body weight and support your flexibility with yoga. Still, a slightly longer surfboard makes you look more prominent.


3. Rides Are Too Short: Good surfing is measured by the time you spend on top of a wave — and it needs to be as long as possible!

After all, you need to spend money on equipment, wetsuits, gas, parking — all that you need before you can actually start paddling to get to the wave…

Time is money, too. You take the time off other activities, and it takes you rather long to get to the shore.

A two-hour session may involve as much as four hours (or much more) for the whole trip. During those two hours on the water, a surfer of medium skill gets six to ten waves.

If your ride lasts for five to ten seconds, it gives you one minute of surfing in total.

That is for the whole four-hour journey on the shortboard! Not really worth it, right?

You are going to need a bigger board in order to sweeten the deal and even make it possible to share a long wave with other surfers — like on those footages from good old times when surfers were riding in stacks.

Using a big surfboard, you are sure to squeeze much more riding time into your standard session.


4. Angry Shortboarders: Shortboards take more space and make surfers compete for it sometimes taking their aggression onshore.

Unfortunately, surfing is not as peaceful as it used to be — fights and conflicts are not uncommon. They mostly revolve around spots frequented by shortboarders some of whom can become territorial and disrespectful to their fellow surfers.

The source of this behavior lies in the nature of shortboards. It provides more excitement thus creating another sort of crowd, and fellow surfers tend to compete against each other for a limited number of spots in order to take their rides off.

For the reasons described above, a shortboarder needs more ‘space’, and there are only a few zones to get on the wave effectively.

Naturally, when competing for a limited amount of something useful, people may become tense and even hostile to each other. So, if you have anger management issues, you need to try and avoid any conflict.

Any sort of recreational activity requires a suitable environment.

Sometimes, the fewer surfers — the better. Places like this tend to provide flat and long waves favoring surfers on big boards.

If you need this sort of recreation, the aforementioned conditions will practically choose the surfboard type for you.

surfer with a broken board

5. Durability Issues: It is a natural factor, and you cannot prevent it. Light shortboards take fewer materials to produce — less fiberglass, less foam, less… everything.

Naturally, this light shortboard construct is more prone to damage and may even break in half under you.

Any improvement in durability needs heavier materials adding more weight to the shortboard. You may get a selection of various builds at your favorite store, some being more flexible or heavier than others.

So, if you are not going to do specific tricks that need the lightest types of shortboards possible, you may just take a look at some hybrid options. No need to have useless benefits.

The “wear and tear” is also a relative term. An amateur surfer may break a couple of shortboards per year while it is easy for professional surfers to go through a dozen monthly.

If you are only beginning your surfer career, it might be better to use a bigger, more durable surfboard, — just to avoid unnecessary damages.

Feel free to ‘downgrade’ once you are ready to explore.


Conclusion: Overall, it is always a good thing to find the equipment matching every surfer’s needs and style. Shortboards are obviously not every surfer’s delight.

You may need to switch from a shortboard to a different surfboard type after reading through our points, and it is totally OK.

There is no need to limit oneself to shortboards or longboards only — you need to find a great number of hybrid options at your favorite store.

After all, we are here to have some fun, so do yourself a favor and be honest about your skill needs and equipment that fits the environment you are in. This way you will get more fun from your experience on the water.

Check out the ‘pros’ article: Why Shortboarding Is a Blessing

If you know any other reasons why shortboards need to be avoided, please let us know in the comment section below.



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