Longboards are the original and very first variety of board used in standup surfing. Surfing was brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Polynesians around the sixth century.
The ancient boards were carved and fashioned out of solid wood, reaching lengths of 10 to 14 feet long and weighing as much as 150 pounds. Both men and women, royalty and commoners surfed. But the longest of boards (the Olo) was reserved for royalty only.
Beginning in 1912, Duke Kahanamoko a Hawaiian Olympic swimmer, brought surfing to mainland United States and Australia. Because of this, Duke is considered the "Father of Modern Surfing". From that point on, surfing became an integral part of the California beach lifestyle. At Malibu in Los Angeles county, the beach was so popular amongst the early surfers that it lent its name to the type of longboard, the Malibu Surfboard.
In the 1920s Hollow boards made of plywood or planking came into use. These were typically 15 to 20 feet in length.
The design and material of longboards in the 1950s had changed to being made with balsa wood, the length of the boards were at an average of around 10 feet, and had then become widely produced.
It was not until the late 1950s and early 1960s when the surfboard design had closely evolved into today's modern longboard. The introduction of polyurethane foam and fibreglass became the technological leap in design. In the 1960s, the introduction of the shortboard, averaging 6 feet 6 inches, allowed surfers to make tighter turns, quicker manoeuvres, and achieve faster speeds, thus radically changing the way people surfed. This "shortboard revolution" nearly made longboards obsolete for all practical purposes. But in the early 1990s, the longboard returned, integrating a number of the design features invented during the shortboard revolution. Surfers rediscovered the grace and poise – the "glide" – of the longboard, and the fun of classic manoeuvres that are not possible on a shortboard. In some circles the battle between longboards and shortboards continues. But many surfers live by a philosophy of finding the joy of surfing a mix of boards and surfing styles to suit the waves of the day.
Longboards simply carry the heritage and the roots of the sport we all love so much.
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