What to Consider When Looking at a Mid Length Surfboard
The Mid Length Surfboard, a perfect fit when you are looking for a different ride.
So you are thinking of adding a mid length board to your quiver, but where do you start? There has been a big trend lately of more people getting into riding mid length boards, and for good reason.
Mid length surfboards fit right in that slot where:
A. You don’t longboard much but want to feel the glide without lugging around a 9’ log, or;
B. You love a mini Simmons or a fish for smaller days but still need the length that your Simmons or fish can’t give you.
These boards aren’t to be reserved for just small mushy days however.
A head and lined up day will give you a sensation your shortboard, fish, mini Simmons and even log can’t beat. That feeling of coming off the bottom, springing back up the face of the wave and sitting perfectly in trim right in the pocket.
A little overhead, lined up and in perfect trim.
Mid Length Surfboard StylesThere are a few different styles of mid-lengths you want to consider before pulling the trigger. Depending on what you are looking to get out of one of these boards, each style will offer something different. One style is not necessarily better than another, they are just built for different waves and different styles of surfing.
What these boards have in common are the fin setups, they are primarily used as either a single fin or a 2+1 set up…which means a single fin with two stabilizers.
Also their length range.
Mid lengths fall into a size range ranging from about 6’8 or 7’0 to around 8’0. Any shorter and they are really just a short fun board or single fin. Any longer and they start falling into the longboard category. There is no defined size range though, so there is room to move either way.
The 2+1 fin set up is a great option for most mid lengths, if you use a removable fin system like FCS or Futures boxes, you have more options.
A couple of the main attributes that commonly differentiate these boards (apart from the fin configuration, single to 2+1) are the bottom contours and the rails. You can lump the bottom contours into two main categories, hull bottom and concave bottoms.
Hull Bottom Mid LengthsLess forgiving, often frustrating, but nothing like it once you get it dialed in, the Hull bottom boards are essentially boards with no concave to them at all. In fact, their bottoms are convex or Vee bottoms all the way through from nose to tail.
This type of mid length wants to feel and surf with the power of the waves as opposed to pumping down the line generating speed.
The hull bottom basically lets the board sit in the water instead of planning on top of it. You don’t pump these boards to generate speed, you just let the board and the wave do the work for you while you just take control of riding up and down the face of the waves.
They sit nicely in the pocket, and when you do want to get out on the face more, or if you see a section coming you want to make it around, you just have to take a high line on the wave and let gravity take control when coming down the face.
Get low, keep your center of gravity tight and let the board glide right past that section until you can park it right in the pocket again.
The Plunder by Haydenshapes, with rolled Vee from nose to tail and tight pinched rails.
WARNING: KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING – These are generally not good boards for beginners.
Usually the rails are fairly tapered and the single fin, or fin box, is set father forward and a traditional single fins. They usually get paired up with an ultra flexible fin which helps add to the projection back up the fact of the wave off a bottom turn.
Canvas Surfboards team rider Corey Colapinto has the style, skills and grace to make his mid length look easy.
This makes for a board that needs a lot finesse when surfing.
The rails are usually tapered quite thin, but will still be a soft rail with no hard edges. This makes for a rail that releases easily, but being so tapered, it is easier to catch your outside rail when rolling between the rail that is in the face of the wave and the bottom of the board.
This Flex Fin by Shapers Fins, is the perfect balance of rake and flex for your mid length Hull.
This style of mid length really works best in lined up clean waves. A nice point break is ideal, since you need to surf with the wave, the longer the wave the better.
Punchy surf is no fun as the board isn’t designed to snap turns, it wants to be surfed from the middle of the board, run down the line and glide up and down the face with the occasional cutback to get you back to the source of the power.
Concave Mid LengthsFor the purpose of this article, all other mid lengths can be lumped into this category. Apart from the Hull Bottom mid lengths, your reasoning for looking for one of these boards may vary.
You might be feeling a little older, slower and looking for a fun sized board to keep you out these surfing without having to resort to a log. Or maybe you normally ride a thruster, but just simply looking to take new lines without drastically changing the way you need to surf.
The Sano Free by Canvas Surfboards, an easy rider for the beginner, aging surfer or if you are just looking to have fun.
Concaves on any board are designed to get you up on a plane. But this usually requires the surfer to help generate the speed by pumping the board, keeping you up on top of the wave instead of sitting in the wave letting it do all the work. You use the fin or fins a little more here and can surf the board with the rails, rocker and fins in conjunction together.
Some of the early versions were really designed for hollow, heavy surf…think Gerry Lopez at Pipe.
Longboards couldn’t really fit that style of wave, so they were getting shorter, wide point pushed forward for ease of paddling, and tails pulled in to hold and fit in a steeper faced heavy wave.
Other’s just simply came about with the “shorter board revolution”. People started chopping their longboards down into smaller craft, again to enhance performance but not necessarily for heavy hollow surf. Think Michael Peterson and crew here, throwing down carves that were never seen before. The 7’0 – 8’0 surfboard was the shortboard of the time. Now it is either a mid length of some sort for average surf or a semi-gun for heavy surf.
The legendary Michael Peterson on the 70’s version of a performance shortboard…now today’s mid length.
There are so many styles that can fall into this category, like the single fin egg, mini nose riders, fun boards etc. And all with varying degrees to how they can be surfed and what waves they excel in.
For the most part, they will still be set up as a single fin or a 2+1, but the fins will be a little more upright and stiff compared to what you want on a Hull. This provides more drive and release, giving you much more performance than it’s Hull counterpart. You can snap it off the lip, carved gouging cutbacks, re-entries, etc.
The Disc by Album Surfboards in something like a 6’8 or so, single fin or 2+1 will have you taking new lines and reinvigorating that stoke!
If you looking for an easy board for fun in the sun, look for a fuller template with softer rails. This will give you more stability and is a very forgiving board to surf for most people.
On the other hand if you are planning on surfing this board in good days that may have a bit of punch and some shape, a nice down rail will go a long way. Add in the 2+1 set up and you really have some performance to work with in good conditions.
Whatever You NeedWhat ever it is you are looking to do, you can find a mid length to do it. You just have to know what to look for and really take into consideration the type of waves you plan on surfing.
A Vee’d out bellied Hull Bottom board is not going to work too well in punchy beach break conditions. If you don’t surf points that often, maybe steer clear of this style unless you want one sitting in your garage until you do venture out to the points or waves that are lined up and have some length to them.
On the other hand, the average single concave to Vee out the tail with a 2+1 setup is so versatile you can pretty much surf it anywhere and in most conditions.
There are so many other variables and combinations available, so don’t take this article as the end all and be all for mid length designs. Think about what you need out of a board like this, look around, try a few out or feel free to ask us here at Boardcave for advice and information or plug your details into the Board Engine with a couple of advanced settings and see what you get…
A mid length surfboard can be as unique as the person surfing it, so get out there and have fun with it.
Make sure you check out the Board Engine to find a range of boards all made in America by professional shapers at the top of their crafts. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your details for a detailed report of board recommendations for you.