So, you want to get into bodyboarding and looking for tips to buy a bodyboard? Getting the correct board is vital for your progression and many factors should go into the decision making.
Want to get into bodyboarding?
You should consider the type of waves you’ll be riding and which manoeuvres you wish to perform. Also think about what style rider you are, and how much you want to spend on a board.
If you have tried bodyboarding and have decided to get yourself a board, the first decision to make is what size bodyboard is right for you?
Tip #1: Size matters
A bodyboard should be, by rule of thumb, just under 1/2 your height in length. For the majority of people, this means the nose of the board should reach your bellybutton when standing on its tail.
As with surfboards, skill level plays a major role. Heavier and beginner riders need more board beneath them to help them float and catch waves. In this case the bodyboard should be no more than a few inches above the bellybutton. Smaller or more advanced riders do not need as much board and may opt for a size an inch or two below the navel.
The size of the board is also a main component of its speed and acceleration. Narrower boards will travel faster down a wave face but be tougher to propel into a wave. Naturally, the opposite is true is wider, thicker boards.
Thick boards perform better in smaller, mushier waves while narrow boards are best for faster, bigger, more powerful surf. But perhaps the largest consideration of shape a bodyboard after length, is the design, or template, of the board.
Shape is important too
Think of the template of a bodyboard like the chalk outline of a body at the scene of a crime. Forgetting thickness, rocker, and materials, all that is left is the shape – the nose, the shoulders, the hips, the tail.
If you are a drop knee bodyboarder (popping up to one knee and kneeling to ride the wave) a board with wider shoulders is appropriate for you.
Because more of your body weight will be focused toward the top half of the board compared with a rider who lies prone, you need more volume beneath you to not become bogged down on the wave face. Also, because you are not hanging onto the nose of the board like a prone rider, a smaller nose is appropriate.
Conversely, bodyboarders who lay on the stomach and chest to ride a wave need less volume in the shoulders and more in the hips of the board.
Tips to buy a bodyboard: Tail
If you want to get into bodyboarding and just starting out then your goal is to simply out run the wave, but as you progress you may want to turn and carve along the face so the type of tail is important for assessing manoeuvrability.
The most common type of tail is the crescent. This is easily identified by a half moon shape cut out from the base on the board. To either point of the moon is a tip of square-like angles.
The crescent tail is the basis of bodyboarding. It will hold your body and your line firmly down the wave. Turns and carves can still be executed, but they require more force and momentum. Crescent tails are great for riders charging fast waves and barrels who value a speedy line over acrobatic moves. They are also preferred by drop knee riders for their stability.
A bat tail, or wing tail, is the other major tail configuration found on bodyboarders. The design is recognizable by a point bisecting the semi-circle cut out shape of a crescent tail. Bat tails provide a loose gliding feeling while riding a wave.
They are great for spinning, aerials, and sharp turns. Prone riders prefer this type of tail so they can throw tricks on a peeling wave face. Bat tails come in several variations to improve specific manoeuvres.
If you want to get into bodyboarding and buying your first board, or just starting out and have a tendency to drop knee ride, a bat tail bodyboard may not be the best choice for you.
Tips to buy a bodyboard: Rail
Another useful piece of information to keep in mind if you want to get into bodyboarding is the type of rail on the board. Rails are the side edges of the board and are often the greatest point of contact with the wave face when dropping in order turning.
Rails are measured in a ratio. 50/50 means that where the deck and bottom of the board meet in a point is exactly halfway between the top and bottom of the board. A 60/40 moves this meeting point up so that 60% of the edge of the board is angled to the bottom, while 40% of the edge is angled to the top.
The theory here is that 60/40 ratio offers more grip on the wave and thus increases control while sacrificing a bit of speed.
Tips to buy a bodyboard: Material
Finally, the last of our tips to buy a bodyboard is materials. What is your board made out of, exactly? How much do you want to spend and how long are you expecting your board to last? Boards are made of synthetic foams and plastics.
Boards made with a polystyrene core are light, flexible, and cheap, but not particularly durable.
Polypropylene is the new age material of body boards. These cores are the lightest and most durable making them the most expensive than polystyrene. With great heat and damage resistance, however, these boards will also last the longest. The slick bases of bodyboards are made with the compound surlyn and this material is generally a part of any board.
Time to get into bodyboarding
Of course, there are even more factors when choosing your weapon and these can vary from board to board. Features such as nose bulbs, channels, and leashes for instance.
If you have friends who ride then ask there opinion. Maybe they could go with you when you buy a board so they can offer their advice. There is nothing better than having someone there to guide you and to give you tips to buy a bodyboard.
If you are still unsure then why not head down to the coast and try out a variety of boards from rental shops. However, buying a bodyboard isn’t rocket science, follow the above advice, ask more knowledgeable people if you need to and get bodyboarding!
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