Bodyboarding is a fairly new sport compared to others such as football and golf. It was invented by a man called Tom Morey around 1965. This sport came around when he was out surfing one day when he saw another man trying to learn to surf, normally he wouldn’t take any notice of him but Tom had seen this man quite a few times in the water trying to learn how to surf and he wasn’t getting anywhere and Tom could see by the look on the mans face and his actions that he was really getting frustrated.
In the evening tom was basking in the sun in his back yard sipping a cold beer thinking about the man in the water earlier on when it suddenly hit him, he was going to try and invent a sport that still includes riding waves but in a different way. Little did he know that this sport would take off and make him a very rich man. He decided to make a board that you can ride waves with but do it lying down in a prone position. This was especially designed for people that wanted to learn to surf but couldn’t get the hang of it.
He tried a lot of different shapes and finally prevailed with a type of rectangular shape made from a piece of plywood. At first of all when he started to make these boards and sell them not very many people were interested, but as the word spread people started wondering what this strange board is like to ride so the bought them to try them out and they had loads of fun. After that it really started to take off and Tom opened up a proper business and called it Morey Boogie Boards. As the sport became very popular it was also improving all the time, new companies were starting up and the technologies of the boards and equipment started to evolve. Boards started to be made out of a rigid foam and accessories started to be used to improve the performance in the water.
This is what the main board shape looks like today. As you can see from figure 1 it has been given a wide nose, this effects the water displacement, speed and manoeuvrability. Most tails on boards are halfway between the width of the wide point and the corner of the nose. This is designed to hold the board better on the waves and give you more speed.
Bodyboards have different shaped tails. Some of the main shapes are V-shapes, semi-circles and square. This affects the length of the rails on the board, the tendency to catch the waves easily and the comfort of the ride.
Bodyboards also have different types of rails. As you can see from figure 2 there are four main types. The whole idea of these designs is that they help the board to stay on the wave and be stable in different types of conditions.
Bodyboards have also developed so they have different bottom designs. These are the 5 most common designs.
* Flat Bottom – This is the most popular bottom design. The flat bottom allows easy manoeuvring and the ability to do tricks such as spins with little or no resistance.
* Tunnel Bottom – This allows water to move around 260 degrees of rail, giving good wave holding. These types of bottoms excel on fast straight waves.
* Concave – This is similar to the tunnel bottom, but with slightly less grab into the side of the wave. The transition from rail to rail in turning is smoother as the rail inside edges are not as sharp.
* Channels -These are adapted from the surfboard, channels make the board hold better on the wave. The only downside of channels is that they make the board slide from rail to rail.
* Dimples – The new wave of golf ball style bottoms are designed to reduce the friction on the bottom of the board, and make it ride on a cushion of turbulence, therefore giving a smoother and much faster ride.
The materials used to make boards are mainly polyethylene, which is used to make the top skin; this is used because it is very durable and hard to crease. The bottom skin is made from surlyn, which has a lot of speed as well as flexibility. This bottom skin used to be very soft and although it is scratch resistant it can still crease and ding very easily. These days the surlyn has been made a lot tougher and rigid.
This is what the boards look like today:
As the technology of the boards moved on so did the accessories used to improve your performance, for example fins (flippers) started to be used. These were used to improve the propulsion of your paddling speed. Many designs have been tested but the recent and most popular designs seem to be in the shape of a dolphins tail:
This type of fin is designed from the shape of a dolphins tail because when you are kicking in the water you are simulating what a dolphin does and this shape is supposed to give the maximum amount of propulsion possible.
Wetsuits also play a very important part in Bodyboarding because if you want to go for a surf but the water is very cold you can wear a wetsuit to keep you warm. You can get different types of wetsuit, which differ from thickness, types of stitching at the seams and lengths e.g. short arm and short leg suits and full suits.
There are so many different places to surf all around the world. Most of the places, which get the biggest surf, are in the Pacific Ocean, for example, New Zealand and Hawaii. A lot of people think that Europe does not get very big surf but actually it does. Places like Hossegor in France and Mundaka in Spain get very big surf in the autumn and spring Months.
Bude is one of the best surf spots in Southwest England. This is because we are on the Atlantic coast; therefore we catch a lot of swell. Bude also has very good sand banks, which causes the waves to break in a certain way, so they barrel and produce a very fast and smooth wave in the right conditions.
For many years now competitions have been held in places all over the world, from places like Bude in Cornwall to places like Teahupoo in Tahiti. Competitors surf against each other in heats or straight finals to win either money or equipment such as new boards.
There is so much money in Bodyboarding these days that people that excel in this sport get sponsored (paid) to wear and promote companies clothing and to travel around the world and surf as many places as possible. They are often filmed when they are Bodyboarding, the companies then make videos from this filming and sell them all over the world. There are many professionals in the Bodyboarding industry; one of the most famous is Mike Stewart. He was the person that pushed Bodyboarding to its limits and is still doing it today.
The future is looking very good for Bodyboarding, a lot of money is being brought into the industry and its ever-growing popularity is proving to be very high. New boards are being invented and tested every day, different ways of catching waves are now being tried out, for example, bodyboarders are now being towed in and onto the wave by jet skis so they have a lot more speed. New tricks are also being made up every day, which are pushing the equipment and riders to new levels. The future looks very bright for Bodyboarding.