This year I really wanted to get better at longboarding after rediscovering my love for miles of foam.
I bought a longboard last year but was feeling pretty clueless about what I’d bought and how to ride it, so I was super excited when Surf Sistas launched their Longboard Clinic and I could learn what to actually do with it! There just aren’t many resources out there in terms of knowing what you should and shouldn’t be doing, and how to even begin with starting to learn cross stepping and getting to the nose.
Here’s what I learnt…
A lot of getting out back tricks
I’ll be honest, I haven’t really attempted to paddle out on a longboard if I don’t think there’s at least a chance of dry hair paddle out.
Yet twice on the weekend I found myself looking at a sea that I wouldn’t have previously considered “longboardable” and getting well and truly out there.
It takes perseverance, good timing and a big bag of getting-through-the-wave tricks. We learnt about loads, but my favourite was the “jump over”, which pretty much involves launching yourself through the air with your board and hoping for the best. I probably had a 50% success rate but when it goes right it feels great and you don’t get dragged back like you do when turtle rolling.
2. You need to be on the right part of the wave to cross step
This was a big ah-ha moment. Turns out you can’t just cross step or nose ride in any old part of the wave. You need to get your board in the right bit (the top third in the steepest part) before you can successfully step along the board and have a chance of getting close to the nose.
After this was explained we watched some inspiration videos like the one below and it all started to make sense!
3. Your board and fin make a big difference
Before this course I was pretty clueless when it came to longboards. I’d already made the mistake of buying one longboard which was wrong for me, so getting the lowdown on what different boards were good for and understanding which board and fin to choose for which conditions was amazing.
If you’re looking for a board to start longboarding on, coaches Sam and Laura recommend going for something that’s neither too performance orientated nor super traditional, as that will allow you to surf in the widest range of conditions.
4. Commitment is key
Our coach Sam’s mantra is cross step or die (she’s sweet but steely!). I didn’t always manage this, but I’m hoping committing to cross stepping from the beginning rather than shuffling will help me get into the right habits (unlike the terrible pop up habits I’ve got!).
5. An all girl crew is super inspiring.
Boys are fine, but I don’t feel any peer pressure. Girls on the other hand really push me to do my best – if they’re all doing it, so can I!
Plus…it all adds up
Although I was a little disappointed with the waves I caught on the weekend, all time in the ocean really does add up. The next week it made a massive difference to my confidence on a bigger board and I caught some of my best waves on a longboard yet – plus I feel I have the knowledge ready for next time the waves are ideal longboard conditions.
All images courtesy of Surf Sistas.