01.Hit the surf
Is your child nagging you to buy them a bodyboard for Christmas? Or do you just want to head into the waves yourself, without going through the hard yards of learning to surf?
The beauty of bodyboards is that they’re quick and easy to get started on, although they can take years to master — don't expect to be doing complex aerial manoeuvres from the word go.
They’re extremely popular at Australia’s beaches, outnumbering surfboards at a ratio of about four to one. Shorter, wider and lighter than their stand-up cousins and with a squared-off nose, their core’s made from a softer foam rather than hard fibreglass.
More affordable, less tiring, safer and much easier to transport, bodyboards are great exercise and loads of fun for kids and adults of all ages. You can ride them 'prone' (face down) — which is most common, or 'dropknee' (half-standing with one knee on the board), or even standing up.
Please note: this information was current as of October 2007 but is still a useful guide today.
The history of bodyboards
Generally thought to be based on ancient Hawaiian Paipo boards, modern bodyboards were invented in Hawaii by musician, engineer and surfboard designer Tom Morey in 1971. When Morey’s surfboard broke, he coated a piece of foam in newspaper and shellac, used a household iron to shape it and took it into the surf — or so the story goes. Music-lover Morey called his creation the ‘boogie board’.
What it’ll cost you
The price of a board depends on the materials, as well as size, any channels or special contours, graphics such as a signature from a professional rider, and surface design.
- Entry-level boards for children retail from $15 to $50 in budget department stores.
$150 and $200 should get you a dow or polypro core (or a combination), an HDPP slick, possibly one stringer and a reasonably durable quality of foam.
$250 to $400 will get you a board made for more proficient riding, from a sports retailer or specialist shop. Often endorsed (and signed) by a pro rider, it‘ll typically incorporate single or double carbon-fibre stringers, deck contours, elbow grooves, nose bulbs (lumps in the nose area that help you grip), a Surlyn slick, a stronger, denser and more durable grade of foam and cool graphics.
- If you want to choose your own shape, materials and features, you can order custom-made boards over the internet. But to get a feel for what style would suit you, try out a few friends’ boards first, if you can.