Bodyboarding – All There is to Know

A man riding a wave on a surfboard in the ocean

Bodyboarding is a water sport in which the surfer rides a bodyboard on the top, face, and curl of a wave that is bringing the surfer towards the beach. Due to Tom Morey’s invention of the “Boogie Board” in 1971, bodyboarding is also known as Boogie Boarding.

The typical bodyboard is made up of a little, flat piece of hydrodynamic foam. When riding a breaking wave, bodyboarders frequently utilize swim fins for more propulsion and control.

History of bodyboarding

A man riding a wave on a surfboard in the water

Bodyboarding originates from an ancient form of riding waves (surfing) on one’s belly. Indigenous Polynesians rode “alaia” (pronounced ah-lie-ah) boards either on their belly, knees, or feet (in rare instances). Alaia boards were generally made from the wood of Acacia koa and varied in length and shape.

They had no ventral fins, unlike today’s stand-up surfing boards. When Captain Cook visited Hawaii in 1778, he observed native people riding such boards.

The boards he observed were 90 to 180 cm long (3 to 6 feet) and were ridden prone (on the belly) or on the knees. The Alaia board was later refined into the more modern “paipo” (“pipe-oh”) board.

Wood or fiberglass was the material used to construct paipo boards. On the bottom of fiberglass boards, there are usually fins. This kind of surfing on one’s belly was pioneered by Tom Morey and became known as shaping stand-up surfboards.

Different Riding forms

A man riding a wave on a surfboard in the water

Bodyboards are shaped to the rider’s specific needs and preferences such as height, weight, and form of riding. Three basic forms of riding a bodyboard include prone, drop knee and stand-up.


Prone bodyboarding is when one bodyboards while lying down on their stomach. When the bodyboarder goes left, they rest their left hand on the top left corner of the nose and extend their right arm halfway down the rail of the board’s right side.

Drop knee

Drop knee occurs when one sits their favorite fin in the front of the deck with their opposing knee on the bottom end, dragging in the water. Jack “The Ripper” Lindholm, a Hawaii surfer who pioneered drop knee in the late 1970s, sometimes referred to it as “Jack Stance.”

Drop knee surfers use drop knee bodiesurfboards, which don’t have fins beneath them to keep a wave’s face or to stop them from sliding out; instead, they rely on weight change from rail to rail to maintain a line and turn/snap.

On the other hand, there are no fins beneath the board, allowing a rider to spin 360 degrees (forward and reverse).


Stand-up consists of standing upright on the board and performing tricks on the face as well as in the air. While it isn’t quite as popular as the other two forms of riding a bodyboard, three notable figures that popularized it are Danny Kim, Cavin Yap, and Chris Won Taloa.

Materials used on the bodyboarding board

A bodyboard is distinguished from a surfboard in that it is shorter (usually 100 to 110 cm (39 to 43 in) in length), and its foam is different. The contemporary board consists of a plastic bottom encasing a foam core made of dow/polyethylene, arcel, polystyrene, or Polypro/polypropylene.

The top is constructed of Surlyn, HDPE, or Bixby. The deck is made of CrossLink 8LB or HDPE. Each type of foam core, deck, or bottom material offers a unique degree of flexibility and control. When a bodyboarder bottom turns and the board flexes and recoils, releasing energy, the speed from the bottom turn is increased. If the board flexes too little or not at all, performance is jeopardized.

Dow (polyethylene) cores are best suited to cooler waters as they can be too flexible in warm water. Arcel and Polypro (polypropylene) cores are best suited for warmer waters due to their increased overall stiffness.

To strengthen the board, minimize deformation, increase stiffness and recoil to the core, and offer faster speed off bottom turns and transitions on the wave, most boards on the market today feature one, two, or three rods (usually of carbon or graphite), referred to as stringers.

The stringer is placed in the center of the board, parallel to the rails, if a single one is used. If two are utilized, they should be positioned symmetrically about the y-axis. A triple stringer contains both a single and a double stringer’s placement.

How its made

The core is encased in a shell that consists of the deck, rails, and bottom. Various hot air lamination processes are used to bind the core to the shell. Glue was previously used to perform this task by shapers.

Shaping tools are used to carve the deck, rails, and bottom into their desired shapes. The deck is then covered with a grip, which is applied by brush or spray. The core is wetted before gluing to prevent excess glue from sticking on the board’s surface.

The same amount of attention should be paid while wetting the core and shell. The board should never be allowed to dry before the glue has properly set; it will shrink and suffer structural damage.

The last step in manufacturing a bodyboard is having rubber footpads applied to the deck’s top surface, then topping it off with fiberglass or kevlar stringer rails (or stringers if there are any.


The way the board rides is affected by its shape, or curvature. The bodyboarder’s weight rests further up on the board if the wide point of the board is closer to the nose. Breaks ofinshoreDrop-knee and stand-up riding are easier when you’re using a board with more parallel rails or a narrow nose, as the rider’s center of gravity lies further back.

Modern boards have channels running down the length of the board to increase surface area in key areas, allowing for greater hold and control o the wave.

Skegs were originally used to reduce slippage on a wave face. Skegs, on the other hand, have been rendered obsolete by progressive bodyboarding’s need for flexibility. Because of this, skegs are seldom utilized today and are almost exclusively used by drop knee or stand-up bodyboarders. How boards perform in the line-up is influenced by their tails. The most grip in steep waves is provided by crescent tails. Drop-knee riders like Crescent tails because they interfere less with the shape.

Bat tails are also popular among novices since they can perform well in a variety of situations. Bat tails give rail-to-rail transitions room to move. Bat tails are preferred by prone riders over drop knee riders.


Bodyboarding has gone through several phases of rapid growth as an industry and extreme sport since its inception in 1971. The bodyboard, which was originally developed in the United States, is now a global industry phenomenon.

The game has grown into a multibillion-dollar business with strongholds in Australia, South American countries like Peru and Chile, Japan, the Canary Islands (Spain), South Africa, and so in. 

Bodyboarders have recognized a variety of world-class surfing locations, including Taahupo’o, French Polynesia; Shark Island, Australia; El Fronton, Spain; Cyclops, Australia; Ours, Australia; Luna Park, Australia; and so on.

On larger, heavier portions of waves, they place a lot of importance on  “the drop,” which is when they launch themselves off the wave’s steep face to hit the bottom of the wave.

Bodyboarding has never been more accessible when it comes to equipment. Boards have continued to decline in price as a result of increased manufacturing and technological breakthroughs, but bodyboarders are increasingly seeking better boards that can withstand big waves.

Board testing and error have been crucial in the improvement of better boards. As a result, many bottom contours, as well as deck textures, have improved.

Famous bodyboarding stars

  • Mike Stewart (Hawaii, USA) is considered the father of modern bodyboarding, acclaimed as one of the best wave riders of all time, and holds nine world titles. He is also the only bodyboarder to receive the Mr. Pipeline title.
  • Ben Severson (Hawaii, USA) is a pioneer of bodyboarding, world champion, and competitive rival of Mike Stewart for over fifteen years.
  • Guilherme Tamega (Brazil) is second only to Stewart for several world titles, holding six. He has gained reputation and fame for his aggressive riding style and approach in both small and heavy surf.
  • Mike “Eppo” Eppulston is the first Australian and also the first non-Hawaiian to win the World Title (1993). He is also known for creating the ARS and backflip.
  • Paul Roach (California, USA) is accredited with developing a new style of progressive drop knee riding in both small and large waves. He is also considered, by many, as the greatest drop knee rider of all time.
  • Matt Lackey (Coolangatta, Australia) is currently rated by his peers as the best drop knee rider in the world. Known for tearing apart waves around the world such as Cloud 9, but is best known for his dominance over his local break at Dbah in Australia.
  • Jeff Hubbard (Hawaii, USA) is best known for his phenomenal aerial approach to bodyboarding. He currently holds three world titles.
  • Ryan Hardy (Australia) is influential in the progression of Australian and international bodyboarding. Known for his fluid yet powerful style of surfing.
  • Ben Player (Australia) is also considered one of the greatest influences in bodyboarding in both Australia and the world. He holds three world titles.
  • Andre Botha (South Africa) is the youngest athlete to win the world title (1998). He then won a second world title in the next tour season of 1999. Known for his extreme approach to wave riding inshore and heavy waves.
  • Brahim Iddouch (Morocco) is influential in the progression of Moroccan and international bodyboarding. Known for his fluid yet special and powerful style of surfing, and he’s ranked 7 in the global bodyboarders ranking.
  • George Humphreys, Lewy Finnegan, and Davis Blackwell are known for their bodyboarding film ‘3 Amigos’
  • Alexandre de Pontes (Xandinho), was the first Brazilian to reach the finals in the Pipeline world bodyboarding championship. Six-time world champion Guilherme Tâmega considers Xandinho one of the greatest bodyboarders of all time.
  • Hugo Pinheiro was placed second at the ISA World Surfing Games in 2006.

Bodyboarding is a great way to keep active, enjoy the water, and challenge yourself. With so many types of boards available for purchase (ranging in cost), there’s one that will suit your needs no matter what type of style you’re looking for.

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