Retro | Modern | 50/50 | Makaha Machine

Since the longboard renaissance began in earnest in the early 1990s, this phylum of surfboard has branched out nearly as divergently as any other surfboard design. There are modern longboards made for ‘wing-wanging,’ retro soul-daddy replicas, longboard guns, 50/50 designs, noseriders, and cross-country supertankers, etc. One interesting thing about longboard designs: Unlike the shortboard, which can be successfully designed and shaped for world-class performance by shapers who don’t actually ride them, I have found that whatever type of longboard one fancies, only shapers who diligently ride them can make good ones. Perhaps this is because a true longboard is a platform for an elegant dance form, while the shortboard has the far more aggressive intent of really mussing up a wave’s hair.

All types of longboards are available from Aleutian Juice Surfboards, from streamlined modern tri-fin styles to period vintage classic cruisers.


9’0” to 10’0”

The true retro longboard first and foremost incorporates design features that prohibit modern body English and fosters a classic look and feel of riding waves. These boards are time machines and are incredibly efficient at stitching together the most appalling junk surf. As Phil Edwards said, “I don’t care what people say about the shortboard being faster – on a longboard you just get further down the beach.”

Active ingredients:

  • Convex bottom for displacement hull efficiency on slow, gutless waves.
  • 50/50 or 60/40 pinched egg rails reduce rail bulk and create period ‘feel’ in hallmark left-go-right sweeping turns.
  • Single fin. One big one. Enough said…

Standard dimensions:

  • 18.0” Nose  
  • 22.5” to 23.0” Widepoint
  • 15.0” to 16.0” Tail
  • 3.0” to 3.25” thickness

Single box fin


A triptych of retro longboard shapes a'la Phil Edwards, for Pilgrim Surf Supply in New York

I don’t care what people say about the shortboard being faster — on a longboard you just end up further down the beach.”
Phil Edwards

10'0" X 24" X 3.15" avocado-tinted, knee-paddling, 60/40-railed time machine


10" raked single fin on a parabolic stringered 9'8" 


8’6” to 10’0”

The modern longboard is a hybrid beast, sharing with its 1960s progenitors only the cursory attempts at a similar outline. The remainder of the design elements – foil, rocker, rail shape, fin array – all are derived from the warehouse of early 1990s gun components. These extremely versatile hybrid boards are intended to deliver all the paddle power and glide of a classic longboard yet break away into modern shortboard riffs when the wave calls for it.

Active ingredients:

  • Thinner and tapered at tips so there’s less volume pushback in turns.
  • Fuller, continuous bottom rocker that peaks in center, more like a contemporary gun and less pegged to aft-centered noseriding rockers of yore.
  • Narrower planshape integrated into tail section designed to be a pivot point and lever for high-performance maneuvers.

Standard dimensions:  

  • 17.0” to 18.0” Nose   
  • 21.75” to 22.O” Widepoint  
  • 13.5” to 14.0” Tail  
  • 2.375” to 2.75” thickness

All modern fin arrays from Thruster to 2 X 1 to quad.


9'4" X 22.5" X 2.75 tri fin 



As the moniker implies, the 50/50 style longboard attempts (and usually succeeds) in melding the best of the old and new in longboard designs. Generally, this 50/50 is based on the premise of the 2 X 1 fin array – a compromise between a multi-fin and a single-fin. Here is a versatile surfboard that can dance to jazz or rock-and-roll.

Active ingredients:

  • Wider, more classic planshape delivers the glide of the Early Years without the stiff understeer.
  • Soft, eggy 70/30 rails provide neutral handling and harmonious rail-to-rail transfer.
  • Relaxed centered-apex bottom rocker gives the versatility of a modern design and eliminates the awkwardness of period longboards.

Standard dimensions:  

  • 18.0”  Nose   
  • 22.0” to 22.5” Widepoint  
  • 14.0” to 14.5” Tail
  • 2.75” to 3.0” Thickness

2 X 1 fin array (single fin in center box and two small side fins)


9'5" X22.25" X 2.4" with a 50/50 blend of modern and retro features. The concept is more driving and cranking a'la Nat Young and "Magic Sam" than posing on the nose. Super flat deck and even foil allows a shortboard thinness and thus hard cornering that doesn't make your toenails bleed.

Makaha Machine

7’6” to 12’0"

The forerunner of all modern big-wave guns were Dick Brewer’s seminal “Pipeliner” models, which were essentially streamlined longboards; these morphed in the latter 1960s into the first ‘pocket rockets.’ Once this reverse-teardrop plan shape received the flat bottoms and down rails of the ''pocket rocket' epoch the modern gun (and modern surfboard) was born. 

The Makaha Machine is a refined, re-imagined version of those Brewer “Pipeliners,” honed during the nearly 2o years I lived at Makaha Beach attempting to make if from the Point through the Bowl. At full length, the Makaha Machine is a doomsday rhino chaser, all indomitable paddle power with battering-ram penetration and bombproof holding power that sneers at chop and wind. In the smaller lengths they can be foiled thin and hybridized to transform into first-rate ‘desert island' surfboards, combining mid-length multi-fin performance with modern longboard reach and glide.

Active Ingredients:

  • Flowing, kinkless reverse teardrop planshape — the deathless surfboard outline that keeps proving the ancients knew their stuff.
  • Ultra-modern flat speedball bottom with tight, crisp vee panels in fin area for extremely reactive heel-to-toe, rail-to-rail input.
  • Longer Makaha Machine can trend convex in the nose for heavy-water Teflon properties; shorter versions take on shortboard components that provide more modern handling and versatility. 
  • Even, flowing bottom rockers with no kinks or stages — no nose riding stall monsters.

Standard Dimensions:

  • 14.25” to 15.25” Nose
  • 20.5” to 23+” Widepoint
  • 9.25” to 13.75” Tail
  • 2.375” to 4.5” Thickness

Fins: Longer Makaha Machines from 10’0” up typically remain straight single-fins; 10’0” and under are most often 2 X1 arrays or tri-fins. 


11'0" refinement of the the classic 60s-era Brewer "Pipeliner"


The Makaha Machine can be dialed down from a postmodern longboard gun toward a high-performance hybrid design which defies classification. 8'4" X 15.2 X 21.0" X 13.375" X 2.75"


10'0" Makaha Machine: 1-foot to 15-foot -- can handle.