Monday, March 30, 2009

Handboards and bodysurfing in french

If you are looking for inspiration for handboards, or want to see some of the shapes people use, check out this guys blog.. Great links as well for european bodysurfing scene.

Bodysurf, handboards et autres glisses alternatives

Monday, March 16, 2009

Outside Magazine August 2004 -Bodysurfing

Article by Outside Magazine August 2004 on Matt Larson, Fred Simpson, The Wedge, and co, and an interesting first hand account of getting pulverised..

The Lip Comes Down
Wipe out trying to bodysurf the Newport Wedge and you'll burst an eardrum, yank out a shoulder, or snap a few ribs. Daniel Duane tackles the mean blue beast and meets the elite riders who court her lash.

By Daniel Duane

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1971 Sports Illustrated--Bodysurfing

"Bitchin" article with an interesting bit on the way new styles and techniques developed and moved from Hawaii to the Wedge and beyond. Head hopping, busted spines, goons, jerks and other assorted Wedge characters. Sounds all a bit bizarre from over here..

The Closest Thing To Being Born

February 22, 1971

Body surfers are prone to hyperbole, but anyone who rides the waves at the Wedge in Newport Beach, Calif knows whereof he speaks. With breakers up to 22 feet, it's the hairiest trip going.....
Curry Kirkpatrick

Books on Bodysurfing

For a pastime that occupies the free time of so many people around the world, there is an amazing lack of books and material on the subject.

Let me know if you find further, but below are the only books I have found devoted to the art of bodysurfing so far. Good luck finding anything recent in english!

In French:

Passion bodysurf - Le corps et la vague
Author: Hugo Verlomme and Laurent Masurel (2008)
Publisher: Yago - ISBN : 978-2-916209-17-3

Bodysurf , Aux origines du surf
by Hugo Verlomme and Laurent Masurel (2002)
Publisher: Atlantica - ISBN : 2-84394-492-9

In English:

The Art of Bodysurfing
by Robert Gardner (1972)
Publisher: Chilton Book Co

Finding the book can be a mission, but Robert Gardner sounds like an interesting character.. found his obituary from the LA Times....

The Art of Wave Riding
by Ron Drummond (1931)
Publisher: unknown
Almost impossible to find and if you do, think $4000 USD. From what I can gather 500 copies of this book were published. To be honest, I haven't seen this book and couldn't even tell you to what extent this covers bodysurfing specifically..

The Science of Bodysurfing

"Professor Neville de Mestre is a mathematician from Bond University in Queensland, and has published the first scientific paper on the maths of body surfing. He began catching waves in 1950 and is the reigning national iron man champion for over 60s, and he's a man who sounds as though his attachment to the perfect wave borders on religious."

Ocean Devotion - The science of Bodysurfing
Article by the Age Newspaper,
January 9, 2004


16 December 2007, The radio program, Ockams Razor did an interview with the Professor, which you can download as an mp3, listen to, or read the transcript, right here.


2nd October 2008, The TV show Catalyst from the ABC did a story on the Professor.
check it out here for the video and full transcript...

New Bodysurfing Photographic Magazine

This online photo-magazine has one of the most imaginative approaches to documenting the sport.

It is fitting that there are no words, no editorial.. everything is told through pictures.

This is a must see... 2nd issue available now.

Bodysurfer - Greg Deets

There is a great article on as well as a short video of Greg Deets pulling a couple of spinners, and riding into the barrel.

The article covers early Wedge experiences, some characters along the way, Greg and his version of the UDT swim fins, ex navy design and now a staple of big wave bodysurfers...

Greg Deets - A Natural Water Brother
by Greg Deets
posted 2005-03-15

First Bodysurfing President

Barack Obama, first bodysurfing president in the history of the United States.

What a great beacon of social progress.

Check the video hosted by Surfer mag

New York Times Article- Body surfing Hawaii

The Challenge of Surfing the Big Ones

Published: September 5, 1999


"Body surfing, known to the Hawaiians as he'e umauma, is one of the freest and most unencumbered of sports, requiring no equipment but a pair of swim fins. According to David Parrish, a lifeguard, poet and bodysurfer, ''It's like flying into the wind.'' It's also a great aerobic workout, because you're constantly swimming.

Body surfers, however, can sustain injuries just as serious as those of board surfers, particularly to the neck and back, when taking waves in shorebreak. Also, surfers have some added protection because their boards serve as flotation devices and can shield them from impact. But when it comes to getting outside of the impact zone, I personally prefer to dive under waves while body surfing, rather than having to push through them with a board.

No matter where you go into the water, the lifeguards warn, observe conditions: the tide and wind; rocks, reef or hidden hazards; rip currents, which look like crosshatched lines; water depth (shallow shorebreak is for experts only); what kind of rides others are getting; where they enter and exit the water, and how big the waves get. Be sure to watch for at least half an hour before getting in, as the sea can lie deceptively flat for 10 to 20 minutes between sets.

Mr. Cunningham teaches the acronym SOAK: Study the ocean; observe conditions; ask the lifeguard -- or, if the beach is unguarded, a local surfer -- about conditions and the level of skill needed, and know your limits. ''When in doubt, don't go out,'' he added.

A handy guide, ''Hawaii's Best Beaches'' by John R. K. Clark (University of Hawaii Press, 1999), reviews 50 beaches based on their physical environment, amenities and water safety conditions.

It was Mr. Parrish who recommended we try Shipwreck's Beach on Keoneloa Bay on Kauai, its steep, crisp waves peeling off a low rock point in front of the Hyatt Regency resort. Facilities include a public parking lot, restroom and showers, but like many Hawaii beaches, Shipwreck's is unguarded. Signs posted in the sand warn of dangerous currents and shorebreak, so this is no beach for beginners.

The water at Shipwreck's feels fresh and almost alive, with a strong current pulling laterally to shore, pushed by the prevailing trade winds. At the water's edge, the white sand turns into a field of loose, head-sized rocks. We were glad that Rory showed caution the first few days, but on our last morning he relaxed and took his first big outside wave, grinning in response to a Hawaiian kid's praise, ''You got barreled, man!'' After that we couldn't get him out of the water, and nearly missed our plane back to Hono ulu.

There are no schools for body surfers. You learn by observing. One of the most dangerous mistakes neophytes make is trying to ride the wave straight in. In Hawaii's steep shorebreak, that results in going headfirst over the falls, straight to the bottom, and possibly getting a broken neck.

''A Hawaiian wave is like a spinning cylinder. You start at the top, and you have to drive in and turn, get into that cylinder right away,'' Mr. Parrish says. Taking off, you basically do a thrusting sidestroke -- to launch yourself laterally across the wave -- and ''kick like hell to match the momentum of the wave,'' adds Mr. Cunningham, a fellow lifeguard, who is also a champion body surfer.

Another Hawaiian word for bodysurfing, kaha, means to engrave or slice, which is what a skilled bodysurfer does on the wall of the wave, often getting tubed, or barreled, as it curls about a hollow center. In the short independent film ''Waves to Freedom,'' made in 1989, and in the autumn 1994 issue of The Surfer's Journal, Mr. Cunningham, nicknamed kaku, or barracuda, can be seen plying his skinny 6-foot 4-inch body like a surfboard on huge six- to 10-foot waves at Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore (experts only).

SOMETIMES a body surfer can make it to a wave's shoulder and push out over the top, the way a boarder does. More often, the wave collapses and you have to duck out the bottom, finding the ''dead spot'' and letting the wave pass, like a tornado, over you.

Where on Oahu, I asked Mr. Parrish and Mr. Cunningham, would they advise beginners to go? They started off with where not to go: the North Shore in winter, including Pipeline and Ehukai, where waves can rise from 2 to 12 feet in an hour, with a deadly rip current; Sandy Beach's snappy shorebreak on the southeast shore, ''the broken neck capital of the world,'' where bodysurfers have gotten paralyzed in two-foot waves. These are good places to learn by watching from dry land.

The first rule for visitors, beginner or not, should be to swim at guarded beaches. Makapuu Beach Park, about four miles past Sandy Beach near Oahu's easternmost point, is fun and manageable when breaking one to three feet in late spring and summer, but when it gets bigger the currents can be lethal. Ask the lifeguards.

If Makapuu is too gnarly, continue following Kamehameha Highway north around three miles, to Waimanalo Bay State Recreation Area, which has lifeguards and offers gentle waves over a sandy bottom. And back at Waikiki, young tourists and locals body board at a break called Wall's, to the left of the Kuhio Beach jetty. Crowds are the main danger here.

One Sunday, when fierce trade winds had kicked Makapuu into a current-laced boil, we drove with Franny and her family to Waimanalo Bay State Recreation Area, also known as Sherwood Forest.

It was reminiscent of the excursions of my childhood, when my mother and her best friend, Pauline, the wife of Uncle Shippy Kealoha, would pile us kids into two cars and make a picnic day of it.

When we arrived, the late-morning light was amazing, flickering like a flame as we walked to the parchment-white beach through the dark ironwood pines. The water was classic Waimanalo turquoise, luminescent and several shades greener than the sky.

Although Rory turned up his nose at first at the smallish waves, once in the water he threw himself into the two-foot sets, getting satisfyingly crunchy tube rides. There were no rip currents. A blue-footed booby swooped overhead, and Kenny floated on his back in the inshore wat ers, basking like a Hawaiian monk seal. "

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Surfermag - Learn to bodysurf with Mark Cunningham

Check out Surfer Magazine with this great interview article.

The Natural State

Bodysurfing with Mark Cunningham

I, like you, spend most of my time in the ocean riding a surfboard. In fact, I rarely enter the water without some type of surf craft under my arm. And while there is nothing wrong with this, I felt that my surf experience lacked the au naturel aspect that it somehow required. Bodysurfing is the obvious antidote to this affliction, and who better than the legendary Mark Cunningham to teach me the subtle intricacies of this oft-overlooked art. At 53, Mark is easily the most recognizable1 and popular bodysurfer in the world today. Appearances in films such as Sprout and A Broke Down Melody, as well as a profile in the November 2005 issue of SURFER, have made this long-serving North Shore lifeguard a veritable celebrity figure both in and out of the surf world—and with good reason. Finally, I thought, as I eagerly awaited Mark’s arrival in the parking lot at Pipeline, a Surf Tip experiment without the familiar feelings of dread and terror that usually accompany it. At least that’s what I thought before Mark showed up.


“If you want to learn to bodysurf,” Cunningham said as we stood at the lifeguard tower at Ehukai Beach Park, his eyes betraying a feigned gravitas, “then you’ll have to wear a Speedo.”

Watching Mark Cunningham bodysurf is like watching the keel of a polished racing yacht cut through oil.

I had been half-expecting this, but since I did not own a Speedo, I thought2 that I might be exempt from the embarrassment of having to wear one. I knew that Mark had no problem parading around the beach in his man-kini, and the benefits of wearing one in the water are obvious3, but typically it’s not my style. Mark, of course had his Speedo on, and had brought along a pair of Michael Phelps-esque tights, which he planned to don for the sake of my education. So right there in the parking lot at Pipe, Cunningham wrapped a towel around his waist and peeled off his Speedo, handing it to me in a tight, warm ball. Not only would I be mortified walking down the most photographed stretch of coastline on the planet wearing surf-panties, but I’d also do so while being severely grossed-out.


After my upper thighs—which in earnest hadn’t seen direct sunlight since the early ’90s–had blinded everyone on the beach who felt the morbid compulsion to look at them, it was time for a quick tutorial in bodysurfing basics. Mark outfitted me with a pair of Da Fin swim fins, but reckoned the only criteria for choosing a pair of fins is comfort.

“We’ll start with catching a wave,” Mark said, clearly overjoyed at my discomfort. “In bodysurfing, you have to work hard to catch a wave, you have to play your hunches and keep moving.”

He had a harder time explaining what to do once the wave was caught: “It’s so hard to describe, or verbalize, but basically you try and make your body like a surfboard: stiff, strong, and responsive.”

Since I would hardly consider my body strong or responsive, I figured I was in for a bumpy ride.

“You are constantly flexing and adjusting,” Mark continued, adding, “If you get a steep wave, roll onto your side, that will make you more streamlined, almost like having less board in the water. And remember,” he concluded, “bodysurfing is like waterpolo: so much of the game is underwater.”


Considering Mark’s legendary status, I guess you could say that the Speedo I was wearing was a big one to fill, but after he coached me into my first wave I was convinced I had this bodysurfing thing wired. That was, until I saw Mark catch his first wave. Watching Mark Cunningham bodysurf is like watching the keel of a polished racing yacht cut through oil. His body is a study in hydrodynamics, his movements a lesson in economy of motion. I quickly realized that my progress down the wave face bore a closer resemblance to that of a wet bag tangled in a fishing line. I clearly had a lot to learn.


Mark loves being a bodysurfer, and I can see why. “After all,” he says, “it’s always overhead!” But the new sensations that bodysurfing offered made a below-average day, surf-wise, far more entertaining. There are also a number of ways it can benefit your actual surfing.

Since you lack the elevation that sitting on a surfboard gives you, I found “playing your hunches” to be a major part of the experience, and successfully doing so made me feel more in-tune with the ocean.

“Bodysurfing has taught me patience,” says Mark, who takes a pragmatic view of his time in the water at places such as Pipeline. “I go out not expecting to catch anything, but sometimes I’ll get a few scraps and that’s great. It’s just cool to be that close to all the action.”

But all that waiting is exhausting. Since you’re constantly treading water or swimming, three hours in the water proved to be a great workout. Although I am not sure I’ll bodysurf as much in the colder water of California (“Bodysurfing in a wetsuit is like sex with a rubber. It’s good, but not as good,” says Mark.). I can guarantee I will pack a set of swim fins on every trip I take going forward. As for the Speedo, I can’t deny the advantage of being so streamlined, but I think I’ll put off buying one until ridiculously white upper thighs becomes fashionable.

1. Not counting Barack.
2. Nay, prayed.
3. If not, then here they are: Less drag = More glide ∴ A better bodysurfing experience.

ed: Im posting the article here because links to articles contstantly seem to break on me. If anyone has issues, let me know and I'll take it down.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bodysurfer - Mark Cunningham

Hi-Shredability- 4 Part interview with Mark Cunningham, Hawaii Pipeline Lifeguard and one of the worlds great bodysurfers

Includes some footage of Mark Cunningham snorkeling on the pipleline reef on a flat day, and footage of Mark shredding in the surf.

Fin list

My weapons of choice:


A short super stiff fin, easy to walk in, great acceleration, not enough length to keep up the speed though, really comfortable foot pocket with good drainage, sand flies straight out of this.. the fins float though not as much as some. Constructed of natural rubber, so they get deformed if you leave them in a boiling hot car all day, but easily reshaped using the missus hairdryer. If I'm mucking around in shore break, fat pitching dumpy waves, then I take these...perfect.

About 2 inches longer than the podfins. It is another symmetrical fin, with super stiff rails, though the rails on these stop 2-3 inches short of the end of the blades. The extra length really counts and the speed difference is noticable over the podfins. The foot pocket on these can feel a bit strange at first. The base of the pocket is extremely stiff and rigid, and the top is really soft. It takes a bit of getting used to, and I find I have to keep my foot pointed and tight to maximise thrust This is a brilliant fin, with plenty of power to match the waves.

Other favourites:

Greg Deets UDT's. - A mission to find. If you want a pair, email Greg directly.
See what they look like...

Or here>>>

Hydro tech Fins, tech, tech 2 and Originals

The Rest:

Im not a fan of Asymetrical fins myself, however some people swear by them