What on earth is bodysurfing? You may be asking yourself that question, especially on the cusp of the World Bodysurfing Championships this weekend. In a phrase designed to make it seem easier than it actually is, bodysurfing is the art and act of turning your entire body into a surfboard. Bodysurfers ride the waves without the help of any actual board; it’s just their bodies and limbs churning prodigiously to catch, and ride, the oncoming wave. Here are 5 tips for getting started.
Find The Right Beach
The beach should have a very-slight slope so you can push off with the oncoming waves. Barring that, it should be level, so you’re not dealing with rocks or a drastically uneven bottom. Avoid sandbars and assorted Ocean detritus, which will only impede your attempts. Next, make sure the oncoming waves are between 2-5 feet in height. This is for beginniners, and since you’re reading about what bodysurfing is, we’ll go ahead and assume you’re a beginner.
Catch A Wave
If you’ve found the right locale, next you have to actually catch a wave. This is harder than you’d think. First, get far enough out so the waves are large enough to ride. This usually means chest-high water. You aren’t going to bodysurf in the foot-high water where people are starting to skimboard; you have to be far enough out, so make sure you’re not hugging the shoreline. Once you’re at the proper distance from shore, wait for the wave and swim like hell to catch up to it. Once the wave starts to lift you up, paddle even harder and raise your body to the surface.
Position Your Body
Once you’re being lifted up by the wave, dive so your head and shoulders are below your legs and torso. As the wave continues to lift you up, your head and shoulders will rise to surface level again. This whole time you should be swimming like crazy, so you don’t miss the wave.
Get Ready To Be Launched
After diving so your arms and head are below your legs and torso, the wave will lift your body to the surface again. At this point you want to stop your furious paddling (remember waves are moving past where you are in the water, and if you’re not churning water past you to stay even with the wave, you’ll miss it) and align your arms in front of you like you’re diving into a swimming pool. Hold them straight and erect like your body is a surfboard. Always ride with your arms in front of you in case the wave crashes you into the sand; this is the easiest way to avoid a spinal injury.
Ride The Wave
After the wave has caught you, and is pushing you to the shore while at the same time rising your arms and head to the surface, resume kicking to ride the wave to its completion. This is when you’ll feel the euphoric sensation of being pushed down the plane of a wave as both gravity and the wave’s momentum lets you surf the wave with just your body. After the wave peters out, rinse and repeat.
After some practice, you may enjoy bodysurfing enough to compete or just ride those almost-crested waves into old age, where life might have crested, but you don’t have to.