The common view of bodyboarding is that it’s surfing’s wimpier cousin, a fun way to hit the waves with neither the risk of getting hurt nor the chance to do something amazing. As it often turns out with the common view, that’s all wrong. Bodyboarding is an extreme sport in its own right, with huge waves, big air, tricks, world championships and plenty of epic wipeouts.
Unlike surfers, who always stand while riding waves, bodyboarders move between three positions: lying flat, standing up and dropknee, with one foot at the front of the board and the other knee at its tail. Each comes with its own set of tricks and expert riders. Boarders usually wear flippers to move quickly through the water, getting them in position to pull off 720 spins, barrel rolls and back and front flips.
This video, featuring world champions Mike Stewart, Andre Botha, Damian King, and Jeff Hubbard, showcases the enormous waves bodyboarders take on. The most adventurous get themselves on top of a cresting wave and ride down at full speed, hanging onto the board, before curving into its roll.
With great waves comes great opportunity. Here, Australian boarder Mitch Stewart shows off some of his best stuff, riding down and then back up huge swells, launching himself into the air. While up there, he flips and spins before landing safely on the water – most of the time.
I’m not sure what’s going on in the first ten or so seconds of this video, but the next 30 make up for it. A bodyboarding session turns into chaos when a few enormous waves wreak havoc, catapulting four and five boarders at a time off their boards and into the air.
Now that you’ve seen the potential for amazing (and painful) moments bodyboarding offers, how tough does surfing look?
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