You Are Here: Harrison Roach

posted by / Blogs / February 4, 2013









You Are Here, Nathan Myers

Interview Nathan Myers

Photos Anthony Dodds

“I hate longboarders as much as anyone,” says pro longboarder Harrison Roach, “when they paddle out in big waves and start hogging all the sets. That’s what gave longboards a bad name in the first place.”

It’s an interesting bias to examine: the underlying hostility of thruster-culture against log-riders. Of course they’re fun to ride in small waves, but don’t dare be seen dragging 9-feet of foam up the beach sober.

Roach grew up in the swell-starved, sand-point heaven of Noosa Heads, Australia. As a competitive grom, he was told to choose: short or long. “People told me you can’t succeed at either if you’re trying to do both,” says Roach. “But I wasn’t worried about succeeding, so it was easy to just have fun.”

While the shortboard shredders sat home watching DVDs on small days, Roach was riding logs, fish, alaias or just going bodysurfing. When the waves came up, he rode shortboards. And he spent twice as much time in the water as anyone else.

Eventually, Roach went to check out the Oxbow World Longboarding Championships in Anglet, France. With just one competition determining the world champ, he figured, “why not?” When he arrived in France, he found the world’s best doing spinners, airs and fins-free turns just like the shortboarders, only way worse. “You could get 9.5s for not even cross-stepping,” he says. “It was embarrassing to be part of.”

SURFING: So then, what should longboarding look like?
HARRISON: There’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing (performance longboarding) -– it’s still fun. It’s just completely different to the way I ride, and to what guys like Joel Tudor, Dane Peterson and Tom Wegener have been doing all along (traditional longboarding). Our style is more about smooth footwork, smooth rail-work and just riding the whole wave instead of tearing it apart.

What’s the most difficult thing to do on a longboard?
Nothing surpasses noseriding. A Hang 10 done high and tight in the pocket, through the section, with the tail counterbalanced by the wave. But you do it because it feels good. The more critical a Hang 10 is, the better it’s going to feel.

So would you say there’s a new movement of classic longboarding taking shape these days?
Well, let’s just say it’s the first time in my life I don’t need to make coffees or teach Germans how to surf. The Van Duct Tape Invitational events are giving a forum to the more classic style of log-riding. There’re guys like Thomas Bexon and Ryan Burch shaping excellent traditional single-fins — I’m actually able to make a living as a surfer. [Harrison recently developed his signature single-fin model with Deus ex Machina.]

How does the “performance longboarding” community feel about all this traditional logging movement?
I think what scares them is the thought that if their girlfriend were down at the beach, they’d prefer to watch smooth footwork and good style rather than guys trying airs on their longboards.

So, you think those guys actually have girlfriends?
I think what we’re doing shouldn’t be threatening to them. They don’t have anything we want. We don’t have any interest in riding for SurfTech or trying to pull the biggest longboard air. We’re just our own little niche.

Do you think your new niche will be more accepted by the shortboard community?
For me it’s just about surfing more. Having fun, even when it’s small. If the waves are good, I only want to ride a shortboard. My longboards keep me in the water when it’s 2 or 3 foot, which is something that happens all the time back in Noosa. But on the Gold Coast, it’s been built into their psyche that you can’t ride shortboards. Fucking mals! They’d rather sit home watching videos.

Does riding a shortboard make you feel more competitive?
I think people can get competitive about anything. It’s just hard to take something too seriously when it’s only two-foot and you’re surfing with a couple Germans on soft-tops. But if you put $100k on the line for the best longboarding section, I think you’d find longboarders are as competitive as anyone.

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  • cough

    some horrible grammatical errors in there :/

  • Jaques

    yah the prejudice against longboarders is their own fault for being wave hogs and surfing logs in wrong conditions. but there still fun ride.

  • Bobby

    Just goes to show, short board or long board, surfers are still douches.

  • Ryan

    I find alot’v longboarders seem to be older fellas who think there more entitled to the waves then the young guns. Fucking bullshit in my oppinion, everyone in the ocean should share the waves around. Anyway great article. I’ve got a blog on surfing @ please check it out and tell me what you think :)

  • it goes both ways

    that wrong board for wrong condition thing goes both ways. all the time I see the teen-groms and d list 20 something shortboarders trying to do airs and “schralp” when its 2 feet and barely waist high at the local beach break. and they give you a dirty look when you continue to cruise by them as they struggle for speed and rhythm on the inside. get a fricken longboard you punk kids i says to em, stop trying to blow up out here on this small crap day. dont get mad at me cause you arent catching any waves on your high performance thruster.

  • Jimmy the Saint

    I see a lot of interviews telling the ‘classic longboard’ side of the arguement, but almost nothing from the ‘performance longboard’ side. This seems to me to be a little biased, and I am not just accusing Surfing of this, all the magazines seem to do it. Tudor Knost etc, these are the guys you always read about, but I haven’t heard the other side to it. I would like to hear Taylor Jensen’s take on all the negative statements that are made about ‘performance longboarding’

  • JJ

    “Performance longboarding” is an ozymoron.

  • JJ

    Sorry – Oxymoron. Me no type good.

  • M Anderson

    54 0n a 6’3″-6’10” maybe when I’m 63….

  • neckbelly

    ride and let ride. you want more waves? go get ’em longboard helps you get more waves? go logging. I don’t get this at all. its a big ocean, there is room enough for everyone, including Germans on soft-tops.

  • Miki Dora

    Good shortboarding is better than good longboarding. All the old longboarders at places like Swamis suck and have no skill or talent whatsoever. It takes more athletic ability and coordination to do an air reverse than to ride a longboard. Longboarding is for people who can’t generate their own speed, do airs or put their board in critical places on the wave. Longboarding doesn’t take any talent at all—anyone can ride a longboard.

  • Miki Dora

    Longboarding looks gay too. A gnarly inverted, full rotation aerial will always look cooler and better than a hang ten.

  • Jaques

    @jimmy the saint: it’s really hard to defend “performance longboarding” — it should probably just go away. But classic longboarding is fun in the right conditions — better than trying to force-shred tiny waves, unless you’re a pro.

  • HB

    You know who first said “I only do it because its fun and I love it”? Roller Bladers

  • max

    hey surf for fun and be cool out there no matter what. etiquette in the car on the board – anywhere. oh, and if you want to really do something that could help, tell everyone to never vote for the incumbent senator or representative. take back our congress while we have a chance. always vote for the strongest challenger – regardless of what party. just never re-elect a corporate owned kook. this country is going down the tubes and we as individuals need to work together before its too late. peace – and surf on.

  • Glenn

    Jimmy the Saint, Taylor Jensons’ spin on the the subject is great … Read it in the latest edition of an Australian longboard magazine … Stop carrying on like kids at school what is and what isn’t cool !.

  • Sam2Pac

    I don’t get the arguments here. If you like longboards, surf them. If you like short boards, surf them. If you like both, all the better – more choice for you. It’s an individual thing and that’s that! I surf both and love it. If you dislike the fact I ride a longboard on small days, too bad and get of my way. On the bigger days when I’ve got my short board I’ll be spraying huge cut backs in your face, again keep out of my way.

  • Miki Dora is a Cunt

    Your a fucking idiot. Go put a sticker on your board, and keep that dream alive buddy – you too someday will be like Kelly Slater…. hahaha