When to surf with a shortboard?

You have done your first surfing steps on a softboard or a longboard and feel like you are familiar enough with the environment to take your skills to the next level? There are two solutions to that. You either challenge yourself to become a great longboarder and stick with the big boards or aim for a more radical style of surf and switch to a shortboard.

If you are lucky enough to surf often, try to keep both games on so you get to surf all year on every swells, they both are very inspirational for each other. 

Going with a shortboard will open you to the universe where you control your own speed, turns everywhere on the wave with the opportunity go for some airs and deep barrels if you really get into the game! On most decent surf break around the globe, shortboards are what you will see as a majority. The biggest contests and where the media is the most is with the shortboarders. However, we can see the pros and people everywhere around the world surfing twin-fins more and more as the shapes evolve. A lot of high-performance twin-fins are seen everywhere. ( Kelly Slater won a few heats at the Pipemaster in late 2020 with a twin-fin! ). 

First... A little bit of history! 

The surfboards from today have come along way to be as good as they are.

Many people have dedicated their lives to developing surfboards and what shapes, material, weight, sizes,... To open the door to many people as possible to enjoy the waves in any conditions and locations. It is still evolving through time. It is hard to say exactly when the first shortboard came to life because thousands of boards were shaped around the world but we can give you important dates that have been major steps in the surfboard shape's evolution.

  • 1926: Tom Blake designed the first hollow surfboard.
  • 1930: His design became the first mass-produced board.
  • 1934: Hawaiians Wally Froiseth, John Kelly and Fran Heath created the "hot Curl" boards. ( different tail for a better control )
  • 1946: Pete Peterson built the first fibreglass board.
  • 1970: shortboards twin-fins and leashes got popular
  • 1981: first thruster

What is a shortboard?

Shortboarding is relatively new in the surfing world. Usually, between 5 and 6.8 feet long, the shortboards offer a great amount of freedom for surfers. The aerodynamic shape and design of these boards offer much better manoeuvrability (which is why most professional surfers use them). If you want to shred a wave and make sharp turns or control your speed to go deep, they are the perfect toys for you! 

They are not very beginner-friendly though, we would recommend you to start on a board with much more volume than a shortboard.

Riding a shortboard is all about timing. Through practice and experience, you’ll learn proper wave timing. This is the reason why it is very important to learn the entire environment and get to know the sport with a bigger board before going to the line-up where there are more experienced surfers. 

They are commonly thruster, quid or 5 fins and can have endless different kind of shapes for different kind of waves and locations.  

A fish is another type of shortboard that comes as twin-fins or single-fin ( for less powerful waves )

Who is surfing with a shortboard made for? 

If you are someone that enjoys challenging himself and connecting with the ocean and its power, shortboards will take you to places you can not imagine! 

The thousands of shortboard's shapes we see today helps you to go wherever your creativity wants to take you and will give you a lot of control to execute those ideas. whether is radical turns, deep barrels, late take-offs, airs or whatever you feel like doing, shortboards are the best boards in that matter. Of course, the board is only a tool while your athleticism and ability to surf are key in those manoeuvres! 

However, It is important to know that high-performance shortboards are not working well in mellow, small, slow waves. When the swell is not punchy or powerful enough to give you speed, you will struggle to even get a wave. They are clearly for experienced surfers that know how to read the ocean. They demand much more effort while paddling as well due to their small volume.

That said, recently we get to see more high-performance fishes on the market and surfers seems to enjoy them a lot. A fish is a shortboard that is shaped in a way to provide more speed for those less powerful waves. They are built, usually with more volume than a regular shortboard. That will give you the speed you are looking for while keeping some freedom in the turns and board control. ( less control than a thruster though ).

  • regular shortboard ( thruster/ quad/ 5 fins ): Powerful waves and incredible control.
  • Fish ( twin-fin/ single fin ): not powerful waves, challenging the longboarders while trying to keep as much control as possible. 

What kind of waves a shortboard is good for? 

Shortboards are made for punchy waves that will generate enough speed so you can focus on manoeuvres. fishes are shortboard for less powerful waves but they will never generate the speed you would have on a longboard. The more volume you have, the faster you'll go. 

The waves that are not good: waves that are slow, longer. the non-powerful waves. 

The good waves: the ones that are fast, hard, hollow and in shallow water. ( like Pipeline, Teahupoo, Supertubos for instance )


  • High-performance surfing
  • Lots of drive and ability to generate speed
  • Very manoeuvrable and responsive
  • Aggressive
  • Good for late drops and critical waves
  • You can duck dive larger waves.


  • Fewer foam = harder to paddle
  • Requires positioning and timing knowledge to catch waves
  • Hard to surf on smaller, mushier days


  • 3 ft - overhead range
  • Punchy, more critical, high-performance waves
  • Points, reefs, beach breaks, your call!

Our selection of shortboards right here! 

Thanks for reading us and hope to see you at the line up very soon! 



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