Friday, August 15, 2014

Why bodyboarding matters

Bodyboarding pushes the evolution of what people can do on a wave. I know some standup surfers may bite their thumbs at this comment, but it’s true. While standup surfing is pushing the limits of the size of a wave that can be ridden, bodyboarders go deeper and higher than any standup surfer could ever hope to achieve, and it’s to do with equipment, approach and physics. It’s not about ego, and you just need to see the picture below if you need evidence as to what I say.

To boot, when it comes to exploring, bodyboarding also reigns supreme. Bodyboarders from all over the world consistently explore and chuck themselves into waves people don’t know if they can be ridden... and they do it paddling. With the advent of tow in surfing, standup surfers have gotten an additional ego boost by being able to be pulled into waves of consequence. Spots like Shipstern’s Bluff suddenly become accessible to standup riders having themselves pulled into huge slabs of water breaking over precarious reefs... Bodyboarders had been paddling into Shipstern’s for years.

This weekend will have the ASP carrying out a competition in Teahupoo in Tahiti. Their claim to fame is to tame one of the most picturesque waves in the planet... a wave discovered by bodyboarders and also kept a secret for years.

For decades, surf culture has celebrated life on the water, although today’s stand up surfing world is far removed from the soul-searching experience it used to be. In today’s world, being a stand-up surfer can actually be a career if you’re good enough. There have been contests with up to $1,000,000.00 prize money for first place. With that much money, of course there’s incentive to push the limits.

Bodyboarders are not driven by money. Sure, every rider wants to make a living doing what they love, although it’s far from an easy thing because prize money is meager in comparison to what stand-up surfing generates, yet every single day, I see bodyboarders pushing the limits of what can be done with the human body and see stand-up surfers riding incredibly, though not pushing half as hard. Bodyboarders are obsessed with riding, pushing for higher airs, deeper barrels, more complex maneuvers and still, it has a hard time getting to mass media. I’m not going to say there’s an agenda from surf companies to shut down bodyboarding, although I will accept that they haven’t helped.

Still, bodyboarding nowadays is the epitome of commitment, skill and competition. Every single heat is stacked and anyone from anywhere can win because it’s such a parallel playing field. Truly, if you want to see a heated competition, you should definitely see any of the events on the APB world tour... and it so happens you’re in luck.

Today starts the waiting period for the Arica Chilean Challenge, a competition at a wave where standup surfers competed some years ago and aren’t too keen to go back. El Gringo is a coldwater wave that breaks over shallow pummeling reef... it’s a mean wave. In competition, it’s the spot that has injured the most people. When it’s cranking, riders get afraid... for good reason. And it’s one of the favorite spots of the APB tour because it always delivers. 

From psycho rolls onto dry reef to heaving 12 foot barrels, to one of the hugest air attempts in bodyboarding (pictured below), I’ve seen it all at El Gringo and you can too. So by all means, if you want to see what makes bodyboarding special, don’t miss out this event which is live right now.

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