SAM SUNSHINE GIVES US THE LOWDOWN ON THE BEST CONDITIONS FOR LEARNING TO LONGBOARD
Longboarding is about finding grace, flow, and a smooth style; not about surfing the biggest or gnarliest waves. Wave conditions make a huge difference to the experience of longboarding. If the surf is two foot and clean, the board will glide a lot more effectively along the face of the wave. If the wind is blowing onshore and the sea is messy, it can be quite bumpy and a lot more difficult to remain in control. So, ideally you want a light offshore wind (too much offshore wind means it will be harder to catch the waves), and a nice, forgiving break where the waves are knee to chest high, so you can get comfortable with handling a longboard.
It takes time, experience, practice and patience to learn to read the waves. So whenever you head out in the surf, it’s a good idea to watch a few sets roll in before jumping straight into the sea. Compare the wave height to the people surfing, take note on other longboarders out there and how they’re getting on, and spot the peaks and rips to figure out where is good to paddle out and catch waves.
When you start logging, you want the gentlest, longest peeling waves you can find. This means you get maximum ride time – which means time to progress. So, when you’re watching the waves, look at how long the green
sections run before turning to white water. You probably want to avoid really low or really high tide at most beaches, as this tends to be when the waves closeout more than at mid tide.
Some really nice places to start longboarding, on a smaller swell, in the UK, include
Gwithian, Saunton Sands and Watergate Bay. If you chat to locals or staff in the surf shops of the area you’re in, they can usually give you the heads up on where it’s good to longboard. When I’m travelling, I usually find myself scouring the surf travel books for spots that say they are good for beginners and longboarding. Mellow point breaks, such as Imsouane in Morocco or Noosa in Australia, are perfect for longboarding as they tend to produce long, crumbling waves to practice on. However, not all point breaks are ideal longboarding territory as some can produce much more punchy, hollow waves.
So, wax up your log, check the forecast, wait for those small clean days and go for a glide. Even if you don’t score magical conditions, it’s always good to get in, learn more about the ocean conditions and have fun. See you in the sea!