Bodyboarding Knowledge Base
Parts of the Bodyboard
Rail design falls broadly into two categories, the 60/40 rail or the 50/50. These ratios describe the angle of the rail and the rail chine.
The 60/40 rail option displaces more water when in trim position and therefore offers more control . It is however slightly slower. The 50/50 rail option offers less control but more speed.
A bodyboard tail shape has a most effect on the look of the bodyboard, but has little effect on its performance! Tail options currently available on bodyboards are crescent shape, square or bat tails.
In theory, crescent tails offer the comfiest design and the best holding power or bite when trimming. Square tails are touted to be a bit faster, as they offer more volume to the board and therefore less drag. The bat tail offers increased manoeuvrability (due to the loose tail design) but should ideally incorporate channels to compensate for the loss of holding power in critical situations. That said, when it comes to tail shape, you could just pick one you like the look of!
What else do I need to complete my Bodyboarding set-up?
Bodyboard Bags: We recommend you look after your bodyboard by keeping it in a bodyboard bag. Features you'll want to look out for include strong seams and a good zip. A reflective bodyboard bag will keep the heat away from the board - particularly handy if your bodyboard is likely to be stored in a hot car at some point! A padded bodyboard bag will help prevent bumps and bangs to your bodyboard. Some bodyboard bags have ‘rucksack straps’ too which is a pretty handy feature!
Bodyboarding Fins: If you're going to take bodyboarding seriously then a decent pair of good fitting bodyboard fins will be essential. You’ll find that bodyboard fins will help you get out into and past the waves with greater ease and give you that kick start when catching waves.
Be very fussy when buying bodyboard fins. Don't buy them to small - if you do your feet will cramp and/or blister. You don't want to buy them too big either or you’ll lose some of the power as you kick off (your fins will flap - or worse still come off your feet).
The same applies to trying on bodyboarding fins as when you’re buying shoes. Do it when your feet are hot (and therefore slightly swollen) and try them on with neoprene socks too. In the UK it is better to have fins that fit best with neoprene socks, after all you will probably wear socks more often than not for that extra layer of warmth. The fin should feel comfortable. Avoid letting the foot be bent in the fin and make sure the ankle strap isn’t too tight on the back of your ankle. If you have a wide foot or high instep then look for a fin with a wider foot pocket.
On the whole, the more you pay, the better the bodyboard fins will be. As long as you rinse them out in fresh water after use a good quality pair of bodyboarding fins will last you years and years. Try to pick a fin that is stiff in the blade and soft, comfortable and well fitting in the foot pocket. Don’t forget, you’ll need "fin savers" too. These are little velcro leashes for each fin to prevent you losing your fins in the wild waves the first time you paddle out!
Bodyboard Leash: The bodyboarding leash is very important as it keeps you and your board together. If you ever find yourself in difficulty, you’ll want to have your bodyboard with you to keep you afloat! So buy the best you can afford - look for one which is coiled as flat ones tend to get in the way and flap all over the place! The bodyboard leash is attached to either the wrist or bicep, so it is important to keep it tidy.
Also look for swivels, these help stop the leash from tangling. Make sure the velcro strap is strong and doubles back on itself so there’s no chance of it coming off your wrist. Always check your bodyboard leash is in good condition and check where the leash is attached to the board.
FAQ’s about bodyboarding
Which size bodyboard do I need?
Our advice for getting the right size bodyboard is to stand with the board next to you. The top of the bodyboard should measure against you just below the waist (navel height or thereabouts).
What about the width of the bodyboard?
Wondering if you need to worry about the width of the bodyboard, or 'does the width of a bodyboard matter?'. On the whole, we recommend a bodyboard with the widest point about half way down the board. When you are lying down (‘prone’) the board turns from under your elbows, so the boards wide point will be here too. When the wide point is nearer the middle of the board it becomes more stable when drop kneeing. Riding prone the board will turn aggressively, great for snappy turns. These boards are ideal for UK waters where you usually find smaller waves.
Do bodyboards have ‘rocker’?
Some bodyboards do have rocker. If you lay the board flat on the floor you will be able to see if there is a natural curve from the nose to the tail, this is the rocker. Generally flat boards are better for bodyboarding in the UK where we have smaller waves. Only get a bodyboard with rocker if you’re heading somewhere with big waves, such as Hawaii.
Should I choose a bodyboard with channels?
Channels on a bodyboard refer to the contour of the bottom side of the bodyboard, meaning water can ‘channel’ under the board. Whether or not to select a bodyboard with channels should be given some thought. Again for UK waters they offer little benefit, as the waves are small. They give that extra bite in steep barrelling sections but they can slow you down and create drag. Beware of deep channels, go for shallow blended ones if you go for them at all.
How do I attach a leash to my bodyboard?
If you want to know how to attach your leash to your bodyboard, we'd say it is best to start out by using a household screwdriver. Try a Philips head as it seems to make a thorough piercing to your bodyboard. A great tip is to heat up the end of the screwdriver – this makes it easier to pierce the board and also helps to seal the hole. Then you simply push the connecting parts together and use a coin to tighten the leash up!
Which side of the bodyboard should I attach the leash to?
Generally if you are right handed then apply the leash to the right side of the deck and if you are left handed, attach the leash to the left hand side. If you aren’t quite sure or it is for a gift you can always use the centre of the board.