Bodyboarding: Wikis


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Bodyboarder riding in a tube on the North Shore (Oahu)

Bodyboarding is a kind of wave riding (sometimes called Boogieboarding). 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 water sports in the world.



But 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 plank 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 for 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 plank so as always to keep it in a proper direction on the top of the Swell, & as it alters its direction. If the Swell drives him close to the rocks before he is overtaken by its break, he is much praised.

James King, Journal, March 1779

Prior to 1971, bodyboards were made from wood or fiberglass and foam, and called paipo boards (pronounced PIPE-OH). Paipos made from wood do not have fins, but fiberglass/foam boards usually have fins.[1] Modern popularization of the sport was made possible by Tom Morey who designed the first mass-produced bodyboard coined the "Morey 'Boogie' Board". Though the initial rider for Morey was Ben Field, as the years progressed and the sport went to higher levels, competing became a larger aspect of the sport.

The 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, arcel 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. Occasionally, skegs are installed to decrease slippage on a wave face. However, it also decreases the looseness and maneuverability required for many moves, 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 make it difficult 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 is 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 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.

ATD PXL Bodyboard

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 drop-knee and stand-up riding as the rider's center of gravity is further back. Some magazines have an annual Board Test where unsigned riders test the new season boards and give a review, such as Movement magazine's Board Test. and Riptide Magazine's Board Guide.

Male bodyboarders

Mike Stewart is considered the father of modern bodyboarding and holds an unprecedented 10 world titles. Uri Valadão (Brazil) is the current world champion. The 2008 title holder was Jeff Hubbard from Hawaii and prior to that Australia's Ben Player had won two of the past three world titles. Over the last few years, riders such as Andre Botha, Guilherme Tamega, Matt Lackey, Dave Winchester, Mitchell Rawlins and Ryan Hardy have brought the sport of bodyboarding more into the main stream.

Female bodyboarders

Phylis Dameron was the first person — male or female — to ride big Waimea, North Shore Hawaii in the late 1970s. Carol Philips was the first woman to ride big Pipe in the 1980s and to compete against the men at Pipeline, North Shore Hawaii. In Brazil during the early 1990s, 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[2] 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.


Drop-knee is another form of wave riding on a bodyboard. It consists of putting one's preferred foot at the front of the board while the other knee rests on the tail of the board. Its origins are generally unknown, however it has been suggested by various pioneers of the sport that Jack "the Ripper" Lindholm was one of the first to surf Hawaii and implement this stance. Dave Hubbard is the reigning world champ of 2009.


Stand-up style is another form of wave riding on a bodyboard. It consists of standing upright on the board and performing tricks on the face as well as in the air. It is not as popular today as it was in the 1980s.


  1. ^ "My Paipo Boards and... More (for those of us who are prone to ride)"., sourced. Retrieved 11 July 2009.  
  2. ^ "AWB World Championship of Women's Bodyboarding Results". Association of Women Bodyboarders. Retrieved 4 January 2009.  

Further reading

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