When people ask me about what kind of windsurfing board to buy for a beginner I can’t help but rave about the RRD (Roberto Ricci Designs) Longrider. This board does it all. Is it a knock-off Kona One? You bet. But RRD built a slimmed down version which works just as well and without the extra weight to lug around.
It’s got the floatation (180l) for the beginner, a stepped tail for planing, works well as a flat water SUP, and is great for learning how to wave sail.
Back in the early ’90s when windsurfing was still booming there were boards like the Fanatic Cat and the Mistral Equipe. These were some of the standards for windsurfing enthusiasts. We could learn on them, slog on them, teach our friends on them, and try to go fast on them. They weighed a ton and after looking at the pictures in Windsurfing Magazine of professionals flying off the lip in Maui with a shortboard, most of us wanted to graduate to the next level.
But things aren’t always as they appear. Learning to jibe is hard. Learning to jibe like the pros is really hard. Learning to water start is REALLY hard (I swear, I thought I was going to drown on the Currituck Sound back in 1994). So much so that I conceded to my mediocre athleticism and never ventured to the ocean side where there are no chase boats to come save you unless you’re gone for more than 24 hours at which point I’ve missed dinner and I REALLY hate to miss dinner.
Where does that leave the middle-aged windsurfer? Coming full-circle and back on the longboard. I remember talking with the reps from Aerotech/Exocet at the Frisco Woods Windfest three years ago and they had a new Kona One that was just getting out to the public. As I looked down my nose at this monster of a board I was thinking, “What’s the fun in that?” But when I hopped on and got back in the footstraps with the nose slapping the waves while I’m planing I immediately remembered those days ten years ago when I finally got that Equipe dialed in and screaming. And it was fun.
While I was there one of the Aerotech reps gave me a great analogy. Marty said, “Windsurfing should be like sex. It shouldn’t hurt, it should be fun, and you should want to do it again.” Well said and I think enjoying more time on the water should be one of our primary objectives and the longboard allows us to do that.
The thing about the Longrider is that if the wind is marginal I can test it out and try to get on a plane. If I can’t plane, no big deal. I’ll just cruise along and not have to work as hard as I would on my short board. The other thing is that the Longrider has a stepped tail which means that when you jump up on a plane the last 8-10 inches on the tail rises up above the water and shortens the length of the board, thus reducing the wetted surface.
What I like most about the RRD Longrider is that it’s a capable flat water SUP. When the wind’s not blowing I can ditch the rig, grab a paddle, and get a great workout. Don’t be mislead. This board won’t surf a wave very well and because it’s narrower than a true SUP it’s going to be very tippy in ocean chop. But if you just like to get out on the water stand up paddleboarding is a great option.
Finally, for those of us who have been afraid of venturing in to the ocean the Longrider may be the answer. YouTube has great video of guys catching ankle slappers in non-planing conditions. You can putt around in light air and wait for a little swell and practice catching a wave. If that strokes your stoke let it be known that even the pros can be seen on a longboard carving big waves. And if the wind dies down you don’t feel like you’re stuck out there for eternity. You can still float and, worse case scenario, paddle back in.
The longboard: give it a try.