Board Sizes: Mid Lengths
You want the best of both worlds but don’t really want to make any big sacrifices on either end of the spectrum. Well, in this article, we’ll lay the land on mid-length surfboards.
So, you’ve gone long, and you’ve gone short, but somehow you would like to have the best of both worlds at your disposal.
You want to be able to control the board and make quicker cuts and turns, but you also want some more stability, balance, and control over your maneuvers. Oh, and speed; we could always use some more speed, right?
Well, why not go for one of the most popular offerings on the surf market for the past decade—the mid length.
When we’re talking mid lengths, it’s crucial to understand that there are more mid-length variants than subgenres of jazz.
This means that you’ll need to take a closer look at some of the key differences between mids before committing to one.
You don’t have to sift the beach, but it’s good to have an understanding of some of the main differences and character traits of different mids.
The first thing that you have to take into account is what you are after. Why are you making the switch to a mid board? Are you changing from a longboard or a shortboard?
Well, there is no better choice to be had, as it all ties in with your needs and preferences. Different strokes for different folks, right?
The first thing that you want to look at is the fin setup. Usually, mids will have a two plus one fin setup. If this works for you, you will find a great selection of boards moving forward. If not, well, you will need to do some digging in order to get to the perfect one.
In either case, the fin setup goes hand in hand with the length, so what exactly are you shooting for?
You will find that 6’8, 7’0, and 8’0 are considered to be mid-length boards. This might not seem like much at first glance, but it will definitely show on the performance side of things. Naturally, the longer you go, the more stability you will get, but at the same time, you will be sacrificing some of the cut motions and maneuverability of the board.
If you can, you should try out as many mid boards as possible so that you get the feel of all the different types. Sometimes, you don’t know what you need until you are riding a wave on it.
Mid-Length Boards for Beginners
Now, what if you are a beginner and want to go straight to a mid board?
Well, we suggest that you start off with a longboard if you want to get a jump on things and progress as quickly as possible. That being said, starting out on a mid board is not an impossible feat in itself, either.
If you are sure that you want to start by jumping straight on a mid-length board, then you should know that the rails are usually tapered, and the fin box sits a bit more forward than the one found on a traditional surfboard.
Even though the rails are tapered, don’t expect anything over the top. You’ll still be getting a curve with no hard edges. This will come in handy, especially when you’re reaching down to grab the rail with your hand.
If you are set on surfing mid-length boards, then look for clean waves. You want the wave to be long and have a good breaking point. If you are more into exhibitions and sharp turns, then you will be better off with a shortboard instead.
Now, if you’re going to settle for the classic two plus one fin setup, then your board will most likely come with a matching set of bottom curves and rails.
Even here, there are a lot of options to be had, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s stick to the most utilized and popular ones.
The bottom of your board will probably look one of two ways on a two plus one fin setup. You will either have a hull bottom or concave bottoms. So, how do these differ?
The hull bottom bards are a lot less forgiving to bad moves. By having a hull bottom, a board is virtually gliding on the wave instead of pressing down on it.
This makes the ride sublime and very enjoyable if you have everything dialed in, but it’s also a lot harder to control when you don’t.
It’s the next best thing to flying. You will be able to get to crazy speeds without much effort, but you will need to adjust your center of gravity in order to stay glued to the surface.
Concave Mid Lengths
So why would you go for a mid board? Longboards are the standard that offers unparalleled stability and balance; shortboards are the next best thing that has risen in popularity and are regarded as the cool board on the block.
The truth is that the mid lengths are neither here nor there. They don’t specialize in one thing and aren't built to excel in any certain parameter. So, how come they are still selling?
Well, it usually comes down to the rider’s personal preferences not locking in with either longboards or shorboards.
Mids work very well when paired with a concave construction because it makes the rider accelerate a lot easier. Concaves make sure that the rider is on top of the wave instead of fighting it.
This is largely because of their different construction on the bottom end. You might have heard of hull bottoms as well. But, unlike concave boards, hull bottom mid length boards lean toward waves that are long and have enough leeway to them, so that the rider is able to glide through. You won’t get far if you try to maximize your speed on a hull board.
That’s where the concave bottom mid lengths come in. You are getting both the speed and the maneuverability. Riders are able to do trims if they wish, but they are also able to get to great speeds at great maneuverability.
If short wave riding is your thing, and you want a bit more stability than what the average shortboard can offer you, then concave boards are the way to go.
Why Get a Mid Length Board?
Some riders just don’t want to go through the hassle of carrying a big long around all day but still don’t want to sacrifice the stability of their board and go all the way short. Because, let’s face it, most surfers aren’t going to be entering exhibition competitions anytime soon.
Moreover, as we said, the concave variety just makes things easier. This is the main reason why mid boards continue to have a place in the market. Longboards just aren’t cut out for this. In the beginning, riders were chopping off parts of their longboards themselves to try and achieve this effect.
Some were more successful than others but still not getting perfect results for heavy surfs. Back in the day, an 8-foot board was considered a shortboard because there was nothing shorter on the market, so basically, today’s mid boards were once shortboards.
If you are going for your first mid length board, make sure that you stick to the tried and true construction of two plus one fins.
The softer the rails, the easier the board will be to control. In turn, that means that you will be getting more stability without having the need to compensate with movement and your muscles.
The calling card of most mids is the fact that they are very versatile. They’re a jack of all trades. You are able to surf all kinds of waves because it specializes in none.
So, before you pull the trigger on one, make sure that you know what you want out of a board and, more importantly, what you aren't getting from the one you have now.
Mid boards have a slew of variations themselves, so don’t expect to be one and done with them when testing them out.
There is an art to choosing the right mid length board. Take your time. Make sure that there is a bond between you and that mind.
There is virtually an endless selection of them, so all you have to do is be patient and keep going through them until you find the one that was cut out for you.
Too much surface area? Well, mid lengths have been around for a long time now. Since the 1970s mid length surfboards have provided great paddle power and simple fin setups.
There are so many styles that can be explored on a mid length surfboard, be it the occasional nose ride and duck dive or riding small waves, a mid length is simply a fun board to have.
If you already have a board and are in the market for a second one, then look no further than riding mid length. Most mid length surfboards are designed with an alternative experience in mind. They are bound to reshape your surf style for the better.