The Great Debate

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It’s an age old question, one that’s been asked millions of times.

There is no right answer, although most people have a strong opinion one way or another.

The question will be asked up and down beaches all over Newport this summer.

And that question is:

Longboard or shortboard?

Now, this topic is highly debated among surfers and people of the action sports industry.

So who’s right?

I’ll be politically correct here and say everybody is right, but there are certainly clear distinctions between the two groups.  Generally, longboarders are older, more experienced watermen and shortboarders are surfing’s youth.  Obviously there are tons of exceptions but it’s rare to see a 15-year-old grom paddling out at river jetties with a 9-foot longboard.

Longboarders consider themselves “soul” surfers, or the real deal.  They’re the ones out there forming a bond with the water and their fellow surfers while the young, punk shortboarders are out “hot-dogging” around and screwing up the lineup.  Longboarding is the long-standing tradition of surfing and is what the origin of surfing was.  These guys are the true surfers.

Shortboarders on the other hand want to scream, “Get out of the way pops!”  In their minds, longboarders are just a bunch of old guys with huge boards taking up too much space.  They want to do tricks and bust out airs, not walk up and down a 13-foot piece of koa wood.

Obviously, these are part truth and part stereotype, but neither side would be able to deny that their camp has plenty of people that feel this way.  Most of the time these guys get along in the water and this battle is mostly over, but the discussion still comes up regularly.

In my opinion, kids should start out learning how to surf on a shortboard, simply because it’s a matter of physics for a smaller person to carry a smaller board, and as they get older look into longboarding as well.

They’re both enjoyable and should at least be tried, and perhaps when your age starts getting up there, it’s a little harder to paddle a 6-foot squash into a waist-high wave.  Personally, I like to shortboard, but I’ll still grab a Doyle when it’s kind of flat and go play around in the smaller waves.

Also, now that stand-up paddleboards have entered the equation, things might get even more confusing, but try to keep an open mind and let everybody have a wave.

So what’s the answer to this age-old question?

I still say there is no answer and any answer is right.  Anything that gets us out in the water and enjoying the summer waves is all right in my book.

Playing Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer on an Xbox isn’t the same as getting out there and surfing point when it’s overhead and hollow.  There really is no better feeling than pulling off that perfect ride and paddling back out for more.


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