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Bodyboarder getting major air at The Wedge

A bodyboard, known in surfing slang as a 'sponge' or an 'Esky lid', is a form of surfboard consisting of a small roughly rectangular piece of foam, shaped to a hydrodynamic form. The bodyboard is ridden in a similar way to the more well known surfboard, but is predominantly ridden lying down, (or 'prone'). It can also be ridden in a half-standing stance (known as 'dropknee') or can even be ridden standing up.

The vast majority of bodyboarders usually wear swimfins on both feet to aid in paddling out and taking off.

The bodyboard differs from a surfboard in that it is much shorter. Typically they are 42 inches (1.1 m) in length, with a squared off nose and angular rails. They are designed to be flexible, and bodyboarders as a whole are more experimental with various materials than their stand-up cousins. The board is made up of a 'core', made from polypropylene, dow/polyethylene, or arcel. These are types of plastic, and each gives a bodyboard a different amount of flex and control for the rider. Glued, or more currently, heat-bonded, to this core is a thick plastic bottom (known as the 'slick') which gives the board strength and speed. The top of the board (the deck) is made from softer plastic to give grip and cushioning to the rider. Unlike a surfboard, there is no fin or skegs allowing the rider to rotate the board. But, like the surfboard, a bodyboard can be made with a stringer (or two) to further increase its stiffness. If one so desires, a skeg can be purchased and installed in about 1 minute. A skeg can minimize the looseness that is required for many tricks. This has led to a large decrease in the presence of skegs. It is bad form to call a bodyboard a "BoogieBoard" unless the bodyboard is actually a Boogie brand bodyboard.

Although bodyboarding is seen as surfing's easier cousin, beyond the beginner level they are equal in the time and dedication it takes to become proficient. The sport differs somewhat in attitude. Bodyboarding is far more trick orientated than surfing, and there are hundreds of variations of maneuvers possible. It is considered rather bad form to simply ride along in a straight line. Bodyboarders regularly go for 'lip moves' which involve riding up to the lip of the wave with as much speed as possible, and then taking to the air and performing very gymnastic maneuvers high above the surface, before slamming back down.

Bodyboarding is arguably the earliest form of surfing, and is ultimately derived from the ancient Hawaiian Paipo board, which was ridden lying down. The modern invention of the bodyboard is credited to Tom Morey, who sold very basic bodyboards, (known then as Boogie Boards) by mail order. They were very crude by today's standard, but were easy to ride and became popular.


The Radical Revolution

Bodyboarding went through a revolution in the 1990´s. It was mainly led by bodyboarders like Michael Eppelstun (AKA: Eppo) from Australia, with its inovative tricks breaking all the established rules, and the new generation of Australian, Brazilian and Portuguese bodyboarders.

It must be acknowledged that the big names of the sport faced the new standards with an open mind, embracing the revolution rather than denying it. It was men like Mike Stewart (Hawaii)and Guilherme Tâmega (Brazil) that helped establishing the revolution set forth by the newcomers.

Most top bodyboarders from the first age fell to the radical revolution but are still praised today as heroes from the old school. Men like Ben Severson, Pat Caldwell, Kainoa McGee, Fabio Aquino, Xandinho, and many others will always remains respected as pioneers of the bodyboarding we know today. Mike Stewart is the only bodyboarder from the old school who is still a world class top bodyboarder today; although not anymore the absolute master of the sport, he is still regarded as the "king", with an unbelievably beautiful surfing style, managing to bring together the fluidness of the Old School with the extreme tricks of today´s bodyboarding.

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.

Today bodyboarding, while still praising huge attention to style, is mainly focused on aerial and critical manuevers. The wave is a ramp! Spinners are now aerial, some bodyboarders managing to execute complete 720° in the air (Jeff Hubbard and José Otávio are good examples). El Rollos are mostly aerial too, and this basic trick evolved into critical variations, like the ARS (Air Roll Spinner) where the bodyboarder connects an ordinary El Rollo with an 360° spinner in the air, and the Backflip.

There was only one thing the revolution didn´t change. It is the thing that makes bodyboarding such great surfing sport. It´s the thing bodyboarding is all about: Tube riding!

Since the earlier ages it was recognized that a bodyboard is the ultimate barelling machine. And bodyboarders from the past still rivals today´s top bodyboarders in this aspect of the sport.

A Few Notable Bodyboarders

Old School

New School

  • Guilherme Tâmega (six times world champion and the greatest name in the sport after the revolution)
  • Damian King (two times world champion and current winner of the crown)
  • Jeff Hubbard (the "air man" who sets the standards for aerials today)
  • Andre Botha (youngest world champion to date, two times world champion at the age of 17)
  • Paul Roach
  • Alistair Taylor (considered by many the best all-around bodyboarder)

External link

pt:Bodyboard sv:Bodyboarding


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