What moves can you do on a longboard surfboard?
Photo: 10 Over Surf Shop owner Chris Thomson at Fistral Beach.
Whilst the art of surfing a shortboard is based on cutbacks, airs, 360’s, riding tubes and the snap. The traditional art of riding a longboard is less about power and more about grace. You need only watch some of the greats like Lance Carson, Nat Young, David Nuuhiwa. Or perhaps some of the newcomers like Honolua Blomfield or CJ Nelson. We even have some exceptional noseriders from our shores, like Sam Bleakley and Mike Lay to name but a few. Longboarding has gone through phases, just like any sport, with generation after generation making their mark in history. But right now we have come full circle in the art of longboarding. We’ve ditched the notions of trying to treat a longboard like a shortboard, shunted the idea that you have to whip a ten footer off the lip, and now we are back to expressing ourselves through balance, fortitude, serenity and flow with the ocean herself. With that in mind, let’s explore what the longboarders of today are doing in the water.
Bottom and top turns
This may sound pretty self explanatory, but riding a wave is not always about catching it, popping up and seeing where it takes you. Some waves require manoeuvre, they require the adjustment of your position on the wave to utilise what that wave has to offer. Now doing a bottom or top turn on a longboard is a little different than a shortboard. It needs less snap and more glide. By shifting the weight between your front foot to your back foot, twisting your hips simultaneously, the weight distribution changes and you can direct where you want the board to go. If you are riding a nine or ten footer, then that’s a lot of board to move, so you’ll be going for a wider arc, traversing the top or bottom of the wave at a wider angle.
This is undoubtedly a move that most beginner longboarders are dying to learn. You see someone cross-step in the line up, you think style and skill. It’s an art for sure, but not as difficult as you may imagine. Much like nose-riding, which we will discuss in a moment, the cross-step requires you to find a balance. Imagine you have found yourself at the nose end of your nine footer. All that weight at one end only means one thing right? Your tail end is going to hit the sky. Unless you find a counter balance. In this case, the wave itself will be providing that. In order to do that you have to find a wave that will allow you to trim. Trimming is where the curl of the wave is breaking on the tail of your board, equalising your weight and allowing you to cross-step. Once this balance is found, with your hips side on with your board, you can step one foot over the other until you reach the end. Which takes us onto the nose.
Hang ten and five
This is one for the professionals. A trick that every longboarder aims to master for it exudes style. Nose riding in general tends to have a few variations, as several tricks come under this banner. Hang ten is just one of them, and one of the most popular. Once you’ve mastered the art of cross-stepping, as long as that wave is matching your weight from nose to tail, you can hang all ten of your toes over the nose end of your board. Crazy right? But boy does it look good. Arching your back may grant you a little extra balance, plus it looks cool. If this is a step too far (pun intended), then why not try hang five. Leaving one foot further back towards the middle of your board, bend this leg and effectively do a one-legged squat. With your other leg stretched out, all five toes hanging over the edge of your board. This gives you a little more leeway in terms of balance and can work wonders if the wave isn’t helping you as much as you’d like.
Once at the nose there are a few pro variations that the true style masters whip out from time to time. Like the hang ten reverse. Rotating 180 degrees on the nose of your board so your heels are now hanging off the edge and you are facing the tail of your board, riding backwards. Insane skill. Some crazy folks go as far as casually busting a handstand on the nose. Gliding down the face of the wave like nothing is happening, whilst bystanders watch in awe. Figuring out how to do a handstand on dry land would be an achievement, let alone on a thin board that’s moving at speed.
If this all sounds too much, then popping up on that wave and taking it easy, no tricks, no turns, just being at one with the wave is good too. Sometimes that’s all you need to have a good time, and that’s what surfing is all about.