Paddling a longboard is relatively easy, but you should know how to do it right. The trick is in the weight distribution and paddling angle.
Longboards traditionally start at 9 feet and can easily reach 12 feet. So, that's between three and six feet more than a standard 6' shortboard.
As a result, paddling a longboard is not the same as paddling a classic shortboard. But they're extremely fun to ride.
Not only is a longboard heavier and longer, but it also features a different balance point between the gravity force applied by the surfer and the upward buoyant force exerted on the board.
That is why surfers need to adapt their body position in relation to the nose and the tail of both board models.
Longboards have an increased planing surface area.
The first thing you'll notice, especially if you're transitioning from a shortboard to a longboard, is the paddling advantage you get over other shortboard surfers.
Longboarders paddle faster into waves and reach the line-up quicker, even though sometimes they've got to push through waves to get past the breaking zone.
Paddling a Longboard 101
Whenever that's technically impossible, longboarders execute a turtle roll or paddle around the break to get to the peak.
Here's how to optimize your paddling when longboard surfing:
- Lay on the longboard;
- Align the center of your body with the stringer;
- Make sure your feet are closer to the tail than your head is to the nose;
- Keep your head up and look out ahead;
- Paddle with your arms entering the water at a steeper/higher angle compared to when on a shortboard;
- Adopt an S-stroke, similar to that swimmers use in front crawl;
- Keep your feet up, pointing toward the sky;
- When the wave is about to pass by, paddle with both arms at the same time until you take off;
As you're paddling out and gaining speed, make sure the nose of the longboard is just an inch above the surface of the water - if it is, that's a good sign.
Memorize your spot on the longboard, and make the necessary fine adjustments to improve the paddling performance and wave-catching process.