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.
"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".
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.
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.
Jack's off to Hawaii on dream ticket ; Penzance's Jack Johns has sealed a dream ticket to the World Championships in Hawaii next year after being crowned British Bodyboarding champion.
Oct 14, 2010; Penzance's Jack Johns has sealed a dream ticket to the World Championships in Hawaii next year after being crowned British...