Beach beef. Surfer v. Bodyboarder videos on youtube. Is it all hype? Or do they really hate each other? Surfers and bodyboarders share the same beach and share the waves. But they don’t share the same style. Surfers stand on their boards while bodyboarders lay on their boards.
No surfers do not not hate bodyboarders. But in the past this wasn’t always the case. Surfing has a history of localism, so when a new sport arose aimed at making riding waves more accessible to the masses there was some tension.
So surfers stand and bodyboarders lay. Is there a reason to think one is better than the other. Arguments could be made for both sports about which is more difficult. But difficulty doesn’t always mean better. There are reasons surfers get annoyed with bodyboarders and reasons bodyboarders get annoyed with surfers.
Do Surfers Hate Bodyboarders?
To understand the surfer bodyboarder rivalry we first must understand a little bit up the nature of surfing. Surfing is an interesting sport in the fact that there are limited resources available that make it possible to be performed. Those resources being waves. Surfing has an intense history of localism because of this. That’s localism geared towards other surfers. I could write the same article on ‘do surfers hate other surfers’, let alone bodyboarders.
So surfers can be prickly about sharing their waves. That is because there aren’t always waves. We have to wait for swells and when swell does come that still doesn’t guarantee waves, the more people in the water the less waves to go around. That’s why localism exists, to ensure more waves for the locals.
And to get these coveted waves you have to be fairly decent at surfing. You’ve put in the time to learn to surf. No easy feat. you’ve spent years probably learning to surf, most likely been doing it since you’re a kid. And through years of practice and 100s of dollars spent on surfboards you’ve earned the privilege of riding waves.
Ok now imagine the boogie board is invented. A 20 dollar piece of foam anyone can ride. It doesn’t take years to learn to lie down. Any chump from the valley can buy a sponge and now you have to share waves with them. For a long time that just wasn’t going to fly. Boogie boarding was invented to make riding waves accessible to the masses. MASSES. Masses of people coming to compete for your waves isn’t exactly what a surfer wants to see.
Mass production triggered surfers as well. Bodyboards being popped out of molds in factories. Not a hand-shaped piece of art like a surfboard. It represented big business, the man everything surfing didn’t want to be. Bubble gum Walmart toys. But skateboards aren’t hand-shaped and surfers love skaters…
Bodyboarding being easy to learn was another trigger for surfers. It’s easier, you don’t have to stand, your average joe can pick it up much quicker. So surfers felt as if bodyboarders didn’t deserve as many waves because they didn’t have to go through the years of hard work and practice they did.
The problem is bodyboarding is fun. Super fun. You can drop in on steep gnarly waves and get the barrel of your life without worrying too much if you’ll make the drop. You can steal little barrels on 2 foot days. And I think nowadays surfers see that. It’s just a different way to have fun in the ocean and ride waves. And it opens up waves that sometimes aren’t so surfable. Like a super fast steep shore break. Ok the waves super hollow but it would be so hard making the drop standing. Why not just grab the sponge and get easy barrels?
Hating on other people for having fun in essentially the same way you have fun is just dumb. Everyone’s out there for a good time and the best guy in the water will always be the dude having the most fun whether he’s laying down or standing up.
Surfers Vs Bodyboarders
Type this into youtube and you’ll find some interesting videos. Entertaining? Maybe. Necessary? Not at all. The internet is filled with all sorts of beach fight videos and people love a good rawl. It comes down to a tribe mentality. We are this and you are that. You’re different, we don’t like you.
A surfer snakes another surfer and there could be conflict. Snaking is stealing someone’s wave. But if a bodyboarder snakes a surfer maybe conflict is more likely to happen. This is grown adults were talking about here fighting over waves. Things can come to blows over waves, but it is easily avoidable.
In a crowded line up, you should treat catching a wave like crossing the street. Look both ways. But most importantly check no one is up and riding and has the right of way. There are two ways waves break, right or left. Well, three, an A-frame breaks in both directions but you still have to decide which way to go.
If a wave is breaking to the left you’d check to your right that no one is riding it. And if a wave is breaking to the right you’d check to the left. Problems occur when people don’t check or just blatantly don’t care.
Now surfers can be mean-spirited, and they’ll blatantly snake bodyboarders due to a lack of respect. Also, bodyboarders are lying down so they aren’t as easy to see depending on the wave. This causes conflicts and a back and forth snaking battle. Then a boogie boarder will snake back a surfer and he’ll lose his mind.
All this can be prevented with just a little bit of mutual respect. A little bit can go a long way. The problem is some surfers have this attitude that outsiders must earn their respect, this includes other surfers.
But bodyboarding has changed. They are riding huge waves and doing really impressive things. All the most dangerous waves are bodyboarded as well. Teahupoo, Pipe, Jaws you name it, there’s a bodyboarder there. The rivalry has died down, its not so much surfers v. bodyboarders as it is people v. unreasonable people.
Respect will get respect no matter what board you’re on or even if you have no board. Bodysurfers are super gnarly too. But if you’re out there snaking people with no regard for health or safety that will cause problems. Just remember not to snake people and have fun. If you come in with a super aggro macho attitude no one likes that.
Is Surfing Better than Bodyboarding?
Ok, well I’m a surfer so I have a little bias in this department, if I thought bodyboarding was better I’d be a bodyboarder. But when it comes down to it both are so much fun. Riding a wave with no board is a blast so throw any type of board in the mix and things just turned up to 11.
There are waves that are better for bodyboarding. A very steep, fast, hollow wave breaking into shallow water will suit a bodyboard more. This is because the wave is breaking so fast and so steep you don’t have much time to stand up. This makes it much better to bring out the old sponge. You’ll catch more waves successfully and get more barrels.
Ok let’s talk barrels for a second. A barrel is when you ride inside the tube of the wave. Get pitted, sooo pitted. Arguably the most fun maneuver surfing or bodyboarding. It’s held on a different standard and more sought after because not all waves have the option to get barreled. Depending on where you surf the waves could only barrel once or twice a year. So basically everyone wants to get barreled all the time. It’s the pinnacle of surfing.
The cool thing about bodyboarding is it’s way easier to get barreled. You’re laying down so you can just fit in there easier. You’re not gonna fall on the drop really cause you’re already down. There could be a perfect barreling wave but if you’re surfing it’s no guarantee because you still have to make the drop.
So ok you can arguably get more barrels bodyboarding, but a good surfer can get heaps of barrels too and still have all the benefits of riding standing up.
Standing up surfing is amazing because you can generate your own speed. You can pump up and down the wave to go faster or slower. With bodyboarding, you’re more at the mercy of the wave.
There are so many more options for different maneuvers when it comes to surfing. You can generate speed all the way to the shoulder, do a full turn then come back and do it again. Quick hard snaps, hacks, blow the tail, airs. So many. Yes there’s a lot to do on the boggie too but just not as much.
And then you can get into riding different boards. So many different types of surfboards to keep you endlessly entertained. Small day? Take out a longboard. Massive? Bring out the gun. Bored? Take out that weird fish you found at the garage sale.
At the end of the day, both are heaps of fun and have their respective time and place depending on the waves.