An introduction about bodyboarding
If you have never tried or even heard of bodyboarding here are a couple of good reasons to give it a go.
First, let us get into a brief history of bodyboarding .
In 1779 explorer James King sailed to the Hawaiian Islands, where he first laid eyes on Polynesians surfing waves while laying down on wooden carved boards they called the “alaia”.
Fast forward to 1971 and surfer and musician Tom Morey invented the first foam bodyboard, which gave birth to the modern day bodyboard, and also laid the foundation for soft surfboards which are widely used around the world today.
Bodyboarding is a fairly recent sport and has not yet become mainstream.
Is Bodyboarding the same as Boogieboarding?
Boogieboarding is often associated with tourists playing around in whitewash waves on Styrofoam boards.
Bodyboarding is considered an extreme sport that requires a lot of technical skills in order to ride all types of differently shaped waves, properly.
The good news is, compared to stand-up surfing, it is a lot easier to start having fun in the unbroken waves and to progress faster in a safe environment.
Before we get into the details of this, let us just mention a few of the reasons that makes it harder to get started in stand-up surfing if you don’t have all the time in the world.
Your first stand-up surf classes will consist of using a large soft surf board that has a lot of floatation. This makes attempting to catch waves and standing up easier.
You will most likely be spending your first weeks in the whitewash waves with knee to waist high water depth, trying to master the art of the take-off, or in other words standing up on your board.
The thing that makes surfing unbroken or outside waves so difficult as a beginner is that in order to reach the waves, that break further outside, you need to be able to submerge your board and get under the waves, which also called a duck dive.
Given that the softboard is quite large makes this a difficult task. This means you must gradually start using smaller surfboards with less floatation which are harder to stand up on, in order to be able to duck dive and get out to the unbroken waves. Whilst stand-up surfing, you only use your arms to paddle. This means you will get tired quite quickly.
With bodyboarding, you use a pair of flippers, which makes paddling out a lot easier. Don’t confuse them with diving fins which are much longer and not practical.
You will need a board which doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but should be the right length, depending on your height and weight. A good way to measure is when you are standing with the Bodyboard in front of you, the board should not go any higher than your belly button.
You will also be needing a leash which attaches the board to your arm to make sure even if you lose the board it will always remain attached to you.
A short side note on Bodyboard leashes: there are two types; wrist leashes and arm leashes. We personally always recommend getting an arm leash. It just tends to make you feel more comfortable and is less in your way.
In colder waters you will also need a wetsuit, and you are all set to go.
Now you might be asking yourself how does all this equipment help me progress faster?
First of all, you are handling a small board, which if it lands on your head during a session, it does not hurt nearly as much as a surf board.
A small board also means that learning to duck dive under waves, becomes much easier and faster, and once you have learned to duck dive, your confidence level in the ocean increases quickly.
Using flippers allows you to switch between paddling with your legs and with your arms, so you don’t get tired as fast.
In case you lose your board, you will also realize it is quite easy to stay afloat just by kicking your legs back and forth with your fins on.
Basically, the above point means that you will quickly feel comfortable in the ocean. Once you are comfortable in the water you will progress fast.
We are not saying that bodyboarding is by any means easier than stand up surfing, at a more advanced level. But if your starting off with little or no experience and only have a couple of days a year to practise, bodyboarding will definitely bring you the thrill of paddling out and enjoying green waves in no time.
We could go into many more technical details about bodyboarding, but with this article we just wanted to cover the basics.
Bodyboarding is as close as it gets to the most ancient of all surfing art forms, bodysurfing.
Read our Blog article on Bodyboarding on the Lisbon Coast
And a summary of our Bodyboard Holidays in Portugal