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Experience | Body Boarding

Body boarding provides a few advantages over traditional surfing as “spongers” as they’re often called, are able to enjoy performing a greater range of tricks in smaller waves - which is ideal for enjoying the UK surf.

The modern bodyboard was invented in 1971 by Tony Morey, during his time in Honolulu. Morey writes:

"I could actually feel the wave through the board. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. On a surfboard you're not feeling every nuance of the wave; you're feeling how this seven-foot piece of fiberglass is chattering against the wave. But with my creation I could feel everything. I was thinking to myself, "This thing turns, it's durable, it can be made cheaply, it's lightweight, it's impenetrable...God, this could be a really big thing!'"

A bodyboard is much shorter than a typical surfboard and is made of a foam core, with an encapsulated plastic underside and a softer foam top (the deck) and rails. The core and deck provide the flex and control of the board.

The three basic riding styles for bodyboarding are prone, drop-knee and stand-up.

Prone is when a bodyboarder rides the wave laying on his or her stomach, placing their left hand on the upper left hand corner of the nose and right arm halfway down the rail on the right side of the board, when travelling to the left. The opposite being true to travel right.

Contrary to what many people think, it is possible to stand up on a bodyboard and to perform tricks, both on the face of the board and in the air. However, this form of riding isn’t overly popular and requires skill and practice to master.

With the dropknee the boarder places one foot forward on the front of the deck and the opposing knee at the bottom of the deck, with the foot dragging in the water. Sometimes refereed to as the “Jack Stance” after Jack Lindholm who contributed to this style of riding in Hawaii in in the late 1970s. From here the limits of what could be done on a bodyboard were pushed further by Paul Roach (from California), Kainao McGee and Keith Sasaki.

The plank position - lying on the board, with one hand placed flat, centered at the front of the board and the other approximately a foot behind with bodyweight shifted to control the board. This is only really suitable for smaller waves, between one and two foot as the board is difficult to control.

A board with a bat tail and a wider point nearer the nose is better for assuming the prone position as weight rests further up the board. Boards with a narrower nose are looser and these are ideal for drop-knee or stand-up as the centre of gravity of the boarder tends to rest towards the back of the board. A crescent tail is also preferable for a drop-knee rider as the shape interferes to a lesser degree and the board grips the wave to a greater extent. For a mixed riding style, a crescent tail is more versatile overall.

From the sandy shores of Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton on the North coast and Exmouth to the South, Devon offers superb beaches and surf, whether you’re new to bodyboarding or an experienced surfer.

A range of surf stores can equip you with everything you need, from bodyboard and wetsuit to a leash and fins to help you get out on the back of the wave.

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