Bodyboarding is a derivative of wave riding. The average board consists of a small, rectangular piece of hydrodynamic foam. The board can be shaped and adapted to different riding styles, and size of rider. Bodyboarding has been growing very rapidly over the last couple of decades and has now developed into one of the fastest growing extreme water sports in the world.
Bodyboarding is regarded as the earliest known form of surfing. Though existing for centuries before European contact, Lieutenant James King of the Discovery wrote the first European description of surfing in the ship's log upon seeing it for the first time in Hawai`i
"a diversion the most common is upon the Water, where there is a very great Sea, and surf breaking on the Shore. The Men sometimes 20 or 30 go without the Swell of the Surf, & lay themselves flat upon an oval piece of plan about their Size and breadth, they keep their legs close on top of it, & their Arms are us'd to guide the plank, they wait the time of the greatest Swell that sets on Shore, & altogether push forward with their Arms to keep on its top, it sends them in with a most astonishing Velocity, & the great art is to guide the plan so as always to keep it in a proper direction on the top of the Swell, & as it alters its direct. If the Swell drives him close to the rocks before he is overtaken by its break, he is much prais'd."
Prior to the 20th century, boards were made from paipo wood. Modern popularization of the sport was made possibly by Tom Morey who designed the first mass produced bodyboard coined the "Morey 'Boogie' Board".
The bodyboard differs from a surfboard
in that it is much shorter and made of foam. The board consists of a foam 'core' encapsulated by a plastic bottom and a softer foam top known as the deck. The core is made up from dow/polyethylene
or, more recently, polypropylene
. Each type of foam
gives the bodyboard a different amount of flex and control for the rider. Dow/polyethelene cores are best suited to cooler waters as they can be too flexible in warm water and the board does not flex properly.
Some boards contain one or two rods (usually of carbon or graphite) called stringers to strengthen the board, reduce deformation, and add stiffness and recoil to the core, giving greater speed from bottom turns. If a single stringer is used, it is placed in the center of the board running parallel to the rails. If two are used, they are placed symmetrically about the y-axis. Knowing the number of stringers and their placements is important to prevent damage to the board when punching a hole for a leash plug. Adding a stringer to a polypropylene/arcel core can make it too stiff for cool water. Speed from the bottom turn is increased when a bodyboarder bottom turns and the board flexes and recoils, releasing energy. If the board flexes too little or too easily, speed is lost.
Most modern boards are equipped with channels that increase surface area in the critical parts of the board which, in turn allow it to have greater wave hold and control, the use of these channels also means that the tail of the board is free to move. Rarely, skegs are installed to decrease slippage on a wave face. However, it also decreases the looseness and maneuverability required for many tricks, leading to a decrease in their use. Skegs are very rarely used and even then almost exclusively by drop-knee or stand-up bodyboarders.
Crescent tails provide the greatest amount of hold (keeping a rider on the board) in steep waves but makes it difficulty to slide the tail deliberately. Crescent tails are generally preferred by drop-knee riders because the shape interferes less. A bat tail is better suited for prone riders because it's easier to slide the tail. The bat tail also makes the bottom of the board slightly longer in the middle, helping to keep the rider's legs out of the water, reducing drag.
Glued, or more recently, bonded via a hot air lamination technique, to this core is a thick plastic bottom (known as the 'slick') which gives the board strength and speed. Two main types of 'slick' are present in modern day bodyboards, the first and the better performing of the two is surlyn providing much more strength and projection. Another cheaper type of slick is known as High Density Polyethylene or HDPE, which does not perform to the same standard.
The top of the board (the deck) is made from a softer foam to give grip and cushioning to the rider. Bodyboarders frequently wax their boards to increase the coefficient of friction on contact surface areas.
The shape of the board affects how it works. If the wide point of the board is near the nose, the board is best suited to prone riding as the riders weight is further up on the board. Boards with rails that are more parallel or ones with a wide middle and a narrow nose are ideal for dropknee and stand-up riding as the rider's center of gravity is further back.
Mike Stewart with 9 world titles and 11 Pipeline victories, is widely regarded as a master and ambassador of the sport. In bodyboarding's early years, riders like, Daniel Kaimi, Ben Severson, Pat Caldwell and Keith Sasaki were instrumental in bringing the sport into the consciousness of the mainstream. More contemporary rider like Ben Player, tazman murray , Jeff Hubbard, Michael Eppelstun, Andre Botha, Guilherme Tamega, Matt Lackey, Dave Winchester, Sebastian Slovin, Brandon Foster, Tyler 'The Man' Wieman, Mitchell Rawlins and Ryan Hardy continue to develop new techniques and maneuvers.
Phylis Dameron was the first person male or female to ride big Waimea, North Shore Hawaii in the late 70's, Carol Philips was the first women to ride big Pipe in the 80's and to compete against the men at Pipeline, North Shore Hawaii. In Brazil during the early 90's Mariana Nogueira, Glenda Koslowski and Stephanie Petterson set standards that pushed women's bodyboarding to a world class level. Stephanie Petterson won the first official World Championship of Women's Bodyboarding,
at Pipeline in 1990 It was the first women's event ever held there and the longest running women's wave sport event in the world. 2009 will mark the event's 20th anniversary.
Aspects of the Revolution
Old school bodyboarding praised a more fluid and easy going style of surfing. The standard tricks were spinners (360° spin) on the wave face either in normal or reverse direction, cut backs and the bodyboarding trademark El Rollo
Modern bodyboarding, while still paying attention to style, focuses mainly on aerial manoeuvers in heavier and bigger waves, in which the waves become launching platforms for these manoeuvres. These include aerial spinners, aerial reverse 720s (Jeff Hubbard and José Otávio are notable examples). El Rollos are mostly aerial too, and this basic trick evolved into critical variations, like the ARS (Air Roll Spin) pioneered by Michael Eppelstun (where the bodyboarder combines an aerial El Rollo with an 360° spinner).
Modern bodyboarders place a heavy emphasis on riding within the barrel of a wave as well as completing multiple tricks on the wave face in a single ride, including inverts, aerial spins (forward and reverse), reverse spins on the face, spins in the barrel, ARS's and backflips.
Note: Although the world tour and world women's tour changed names in the timespan the world titles below were recorded, this article assumes as world tour and world women's tour titles those earned after the establishment of the world tour by the current International Bodyboarding Association and its former incarnations.
Dropknee is another form of wave riding on a bodyboard. It consists of putting your preferred foot at the front of the board while the other knee rests on the tail of the board. Notable riders such as Kyron Rathbone, Mason Rose, Matt Lackey, Scott Carter, Jack Lindholm, Paul Roach, Mark Fuller & Aka Lyman have been experts of this bodyboarding style, spending more time riding drop knee than prone.
Standup style is another form of wave riding on a bodyboard. It consists of standing upright on the board. Blake Wood, James Pappas, Glen Sullivan, Cavin Yap, Chris Won, and Danny Kim are probably the best known stand-up bodyboarding professionals of the last ten years.
Famous bodyboarding locations
spots around the world are famous
for their hollow
, tube-like waves which are favored
by bodyboarders. In general, spots favorable for longboard surfing make for poor bodyboarding, whereas most advanced- and expert-level surf
spots are also good for bodyboarding. Some particularly hollow or dangerous waves such as Sydney
Australia's Shark Island
's Trigg Point are ridden almost exclusively by advanced bodyboarders due to it being far harder to access such waves
while needing to stand up
- Andicuri, Aruba
- Sharkbay, Aruba
- Wariruri, Aruba
- Manchebo, Aruba
- Dos Playa, Aruba
- Rincon, Aruba
- Spot, Aruba
- Rancho, Aruba
- Urirama, Aruba
- Dooms, Aruba
- Black Rock.................(NSW)
- Box Beach....................(NSW)
- Froggies Beach...........(QLD)
- Knights Wedge...........(SA)
- Luna Park..................(VIC)
- Mitchell's Wedge........(WA)
- North Point...............(WA)
- Port Mac Break Wall....(NSW)
- Port Mac LHB.............(NSW)
- Shark Island ..............(NSW)
- Shipsterns Bluff..........(TAS)
- Stradbroke Island........(QLD)
- The Box.....................(WA)
- Byron bay....................(NSW)
- Pláya Zicatela, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
- Punta Colorada, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
- Pascuáles, Tecomán, Colima, Mexico
- Nexpa, Michoacán,Mexico
- Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, Mexico
- La Ticla, Michoacan, Mexico
- Cave Rock, Bluff, Durban Spot Photos
- Donkey Kong Island, Rocky Bay, Southern Kwa-Zulu Natal Spot Photos
- The Wedge, Plettenberg Bay, Southern Cape Spot Photos
- North Beach, Durban, Central Kwa-Zulu Natal Spot Photos
- Hoek, Noordhoek, Western Province Spot Photos
- Kalk Bay, Western Province Spot Photos
- Lucien, Margate, Southern Kwa-Zulu Natal Spot Photos
- Llandudno, Cape Town, Western Province Spot Photos
- Gas Chambers, Western Province Spot Photos
- Baggies, Warner Beach, Southern Kwa-Zulu Natal
- Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape
- Teahupoo, Tahiti, French Polynesia
- "Sweaty Muff" Vanuatu
- G-Land (Garajagan) East Java, Indonesia
- Padang Padang, Bali, Indonesia
- Cloud 9, Surigao Islands, Philippines
- Bagasbas Beach, Daet, Camarines Norte, Philippines
- Hagatna boat basin, Rick's reef, Marine lab,GUAM
- Special K, Samoa
San Pedro (Lurin - Lima)
Explosivos (Punta Negra - Lima)
Caplina (Chorrillos - Lima)
Villa (Chorrillos - Lima)
- Cave in Ericeira, Portugal. - A very quick reef break right, where you make the tube of your life or you will know the rocks from a different angle.
- Pedra Branca in Ericeira, Portugal. - A point-break left with world class quality.
- Reef in Ericeira, Portugal. - Right reef break where you can't make basic errors.
- Crazy Left in Ericeira, Portugal.
- SuperTubos in Peniche, Portugal. - Like the name says, a beach break where tuberiding is the word of order.
- Praia Grande in Sintra, Portugal. - Home of Sintra Portugal Pro
- Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal. - If you want it big...
- Troll in Porto, Portugal.
- Calhau in Carcavelos, Portugal.
- São João in Estoril, Portugal - (Small and Medium waves) but good for beginners.
- Salgueira Beach in Póvoa de Varzim.
- Gas Chambers in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
- Wilderness in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
- Chatarra in Loiza, Puerto Rico
- Tres Palmas in Rincon, Puerto Rico
- Los Tubos in Manati, Puerto Rico
- Margara in Arecibo, Puerto Rico
- Jobos in Isabela, Puerto Rico
- La pared in Luquillo, Puerto Rico
- Caza y pezca in Arecibo, Puerto Rico
- Cibuco in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico
- Kikita in Dorado, Puerto Rico
- Hallows in Arecibo, Puerto Rico
- Peñon de mera in Arecibo , Puerto Rico
- Los Almendros in Camuy, Puerto Rico
- Peñon Amador in Camuy, Puerto Rico
- Domes in Rincon, Puerto Rico
- The Wedge in Newport Beach, California
- 1st Street in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
- Point Mugu in Oxnard, California
- Garappata State Beach in Carmel By the Sea, California
- T-Street in San Clemente, California
- Southside at Indian River Inlet, in Delaware
- DMJ's in Oceanside, California
- Seal Beach in Seal Beach, California
- 40th Street in Newport Beach, California
- La Jolla in San Diego, California
- Imperial Beach in San Diego, California
- Salt Creek in Dana Point, California
- Jenks in Point Pleasant, New Jersey
- GoHomes in Long Island, New York
- Seaside Reef in Cardiff, California
- Green Hill Beach in Green Hill, Rhode Island
- Seven Presedents County Park in Long Branch, New Jersey
- Severson, Ben with Jake Grubb (1986). Bodyboard Handbook. Newport Beach, California: Grubb Stake Media Ltd. ASIN: B000GKJSQ6
- IBA Tour - the governing body of world bodyboarding
- British Bodyboard Club The newly launched homepage for Bodyboarding in the UK
- BBA - Governing Body of bodyboarding in Australiasia
- SABA - South African Bodyboarding Association
- Bodyboarder Hawaii Myspace - Bodyboarder Hawaii Myspace
- Kernow Bodyboarding The UK bodyboarding website.
- NYBB - New York Bodyboarding East Coast USA
- USBA - United States Bodyboarding Association Official Site
- http://www.bodyboarder.com/ - Bodyboarding website
- Tubasos.com Puerto Rico Surfing and Bodyboarding website