Why I'm into longboards
First of all, this is just my opinion and my experience. I know other people have good reasons for their own opinions and I respect that. Anyway, here goes:
Longboards are the most practical and most enjoyable boards for most people in most conditions.
I have come full circle to reach this conclusion. Though I fell in love with longboards as a kid, I got a Techno 273 after college and focused mainly on shortboarding after that. Saving my meager grad-student stipend, I then worked on my sail quiver, eager to access the much-hyped realm of early planing. I was disappointed to find that a 7.5 didn't do it - Most days were still schlog days. So I saved some more money and bought a 10.6. It was fun on my longboard but didn't work well on the Techno. So I saved more money and bought a F186. That was fun, but I still schlogged most of the time in the summer, and I had to deal with tons of rigging and repair hassles with the sail and board. Undaunted, I saved MORE money, and bought a 12.0 and a 9.4. Finally, I was able to plane about 50% of the time in those light summer days. But it was a huge rigging hassle and backbreaking if the wind got a little too light or too strong. Deciding whether or not to rig up on those all-too-common marginal days was stressful. Plus I was realizing that my setup wasn't good enough get me in the running in the local races. So I bought a F158. That was cool. I did ok in a race or two. But fins, board repairs, etc. were always a hassle, and the "is it windy enough to plane" dilemma was still agonizing in the summer. Then my monofilm sails started to self-destruct and my boom head broke. I was getting frustrated, but I still repaired things and kept at it.
Around that time I started teaching a lot of people to windsurf, and windsurfing with my girlfriend. It was a pain to pack for trips because I had to bring the F158 for myself and a separate longboard or prodigy for the others, because the formula board was lousy for teaching.
Then the wood finish on my F158 started to crack and split. I did my best to refinish it, but that was the last straw. The honeymoon with early-planing shortboard performance was over. I missed my longboard, which I had sold to finance the extravagant formula purchases.
So I sold my 12.0 rig, my formula board, and all it's accessories for chump change and purchased the only good, cheap longboard currently on the market. Unfortunately, it was not a starboard.
Since then I have sailed more often, with less stress and anxiety and less time spent rigging. I have enjoyed racing much more, and I have been able to share my board with buddies and beginners. I have sailed alongside my girlfriend on an even more simple longboard (a Bic Melody) and we've both had much more fun than when she used to slug around on the Prodigy while I alternated between leaving her in the dust and schlogging behind her on my formula stuff. I have learned new tricks like the rail ride and have enjoyed jibing and carving around on waves, which was a no-no with the F158.
So, I'll get down off the soapbox now, but before I do, I just want to put out a call to Starboard and all the other companies that haven't already done so, to produce and market cheap longboards. They're fun and rewarding for all skill levels without requiring strong steady winds or huge investments in heavy, complex rigs. Most importantly they bring beginner and advanced sailors closer together, stoking the fire of our sport. Longboards are the main course - shortboards are the desert. We need to get back to a balanced diet.