Above, the right Bodyboard can give you performance and control to master the waves. Below, Bodyboarding also includes having fun surfing with your mates and just going straight. The right board will match you and your skill to the waves. From there, you can progress to the highest levels of performance
The right Bodyboard for you is one that matches your size and skill. So start by working out the best size Bodyboard to match your physical characteristics. Typically a smaller size surfer can go for a smaller Bodyboard while a bigger surfer will go for a larger board. If you just want to have fun then go for an oversize board. This will make the most of any wave energy giving you speed and giving you great fun. As you progress you can drop down in size, riding a board you have total control over.
This size chart from Funkshen Bodyboards gives you some idea on the range of Bodyboard sizes available to match different physical body types. Weight is normally the basis for the selection. However if you are tall physically you can go with a longer Bodyboard. If you are shorter, having the extra area in the Bodyboard matching your weight is still a good idea
In terms of skill, the construction and features of your Bodyboard should exceed your skill. In this way you will always be on a board that will help you progress. So if you have no skill and a just starting out a Beginner Bodyboard is where you start. This will give great floatation so paddling out and catching waves is easy. Intermediate Bodyboards give you more flex along with features to help you have more control on the wave. Advanced Bodyboards give you the most flex along with features that will also give you ultimate control and speed.
Similarities Between Bodyboards
From these two sets of Bodyboards within the same brands, NMD on the left and VS on the right, can you tell which boards are more than triple the price? Looking from the outside Bodyboards can appear almost identical. There’s materials, features and design differences that will give you superior performance. However you do need to have a certain skill level to appreciate this performance in your surfing. To answer, the dark yellow NMD Player Kinetic PP Bodyboard on the left is more than triple the price of the Nomad Neo EPS Bodyboard. The all white VS Winny Kinetic PP Bodyboard far right is more than tirple the price of the green bottom VS Inferno Bodyboard
From the outside Bodyboards can all look the same. This is because they follow a design formula that’s proven to perform in the surf.
The rectangular shape gives you the most area while also giving direction on the wave. You’ll note that the boards have a slightly pulled in nose. So this part of your board won’t catch in the wave causing a wipeout.
Externally Bodyboards have similar designs proven to work. The outline, the rocker, and rails and tails are the external features where minor changes can have a big impact
The deck has a soft foam finish. The quality of this foam gives levels of comfort, durability and lower water absorption. The deck can also feature contours and bulbs to help your body stay engaged and not slide off.
The plastic bottom is called a slick. This gives speed in the water. As you advance this plastic can be higher quality, giving you more speed and being less likely to bend and loose its shape.
A crescent shape tail is most common though there are other shapes. To turn your Bodyboard you put weight on one side and the edge of the crescent bites in on that side giving you hold while the circular section of the crescent releases water giving speed. Other tail shapes can give you more speed or more hold.
Stealth Bodyboards has dramatically altered the rail shape on some of their models. This is called the Vax Trax Rail system. Is it a key component to doing carves like this?
The sides of the board are called the rails. These have a standard shape of an edge with 50% angle on top and 50% angle on bottom. This is said to give a balance between speed and turning. Some rails differ, for example 60% bottom and 40% top to give you even more control with more surface in touch with the wave.
Stealth Bodyboards give an easy to view overview of the foam cores internal to their boards. On the left are the blocks of EPS foam that are cut to Bodyboard shapes. The EPS is the least flexi, giving great floatation. Next, the blue top foam is PE. This is at the opposite end of the spectrum to EPS as it is very soft allowing a lot of flex. The other foam cores increase in terms of sophistication using multi-foam layers and composites. On the far right is Tension Tech that is a hybrid of 3 core types including PE, NRG + PP. Interestingly personal preference plays a big part of getting your right Bodyboard. For example PE is ever popular because of its flexi feel even though there are more advanced foam core options available
Internals include the foam. A stiffer foam is usually more buoyant giving extra floatation. This is good for paddling out and catching waves. Great for Beginners. The tradeoff is that its flex characteristics are less responsive. Being less responsive means your board won’t turn as well as one with a softer foam core.
Stealth Bodyboards give an easy to view overview of stringers and mesh. From a simple single stringer on the left to triple stringer on the right with mesh top and bottom. Stringers and mesh can all be made from different materials with different characteristics giving more control and more response. For example a wood stringer will have a very different flex and feel than a carbon stringer. As mentioned above the foam cores also have their own characteristics. So when you put all the features together in your board there’s a myriad of combinations that can affect your feel and performance
Internals also include stringers. These are lengths of firmer materials like wood, fiberglass and carbon. They can add strength giving durability in less expensive boards, while giving performance and control in higher end boards. There’s also mesh, a material that covers the foam core that further controls the flex, adding to performance, and also giving durability.
Other internals include bumpers. These are more durable foam inserts at the nose and tail that absorb impacts. For example if you drop your bodyboard on the ground or hit an object. They aid durability.
A selection of good value Beginner boards. EPS foam cores give good floatation equating to easy paddling and lots of wave catching. They all have plastic slick bottoms giving speed that equates to fun on the waves. Check individual models as some include more advanced foam composites and stringers giving additional flex and durability
If you’re starting, go for a Bodyboard that has a larger size with an EPS foam core. The size will give you extra area making paddling and catching waves easier. On the wave you’ll also go faster with the area of the board maximising the wave energy. You’ll get long and fun rides.
As a Beginner going fast, when paddling and on the wave is what it’s all about. Getting a board that’s too big for you is a good option if it’s all about fun. The extra size maximises your floatation.
Other features that are good to have depending on your budget include nose and tail bumpers to protect your board. Also a stringer will aid durability, your board less likely to overflex and bend. The stringer also keeps your board in a flat fast shape.
Intermediate Bodyboards cover a wide budget range and it’s worthwhile checking in-store for the models with the mix of features you are most interested in. Features range of being optimised for flex, for carving in power surf, through to higher speed for throwing bigger moves and airs in smaller weaker waves
As you progress you will want to be able to do more with your board on the wave. You’ll want it to be responsive. This means doing more turns. Turning where you want, for example when the wave is steep. Going fast, for example to make tubes and close out sections.
An ideal intermediate board gives you a blend of good features. For example better quality foam enhances the way you can control the flex of your board. A better quality stringer will also help with this. Instead of wood there are materials like fibreglass and carbon that give flex with recoil so that when they bend they spring back with energy that goes back into your next turn or move.
A higher quality slick will give you more speed and also enhance your board’s flex. Your deck foam of higher quality will be even less absorbent so your board will be light and responsive. The deck can have contours that will help your body engage and stay connected on your board. Hand bulbs will help your grip.
Mesh also starts to appear in boards at this level. This can be a single or additional layers added internally that cover most of your board. These give your board a cohesive feel, binding all the features like the core and stringers into a whole. They can reduce twisting of your board and also add to long life.
The crescent tail is still a good option as it’s a tail you’re used to and know the performance characteristics. Keeping this standard will allow you to understand how the other features of your board are enhancing your surfing.
Designed for Advanced and Pro boarders that have both wave riding skills and advanced fitness, these boards can be of finer sizes than those recommended in the table above. By incorporating a range of features these boards can give you speed and great turning. For example they can have a graduated stringer that is thinner at the front and so will flex more into a turn. Being thicker at the back the stringer will keep the back of your board flatter, going faster. There are advanced rail setups including 55/45 for more control. The core can have a composite that’s soft for carving yet has a fast recoil so you still get liveliness. It’s worthwhile checking in-store to get hands-on with the latest features and how they can progress your boarding
At this skill level you’re after a board that will give you everything. That means you’ll get speed, flex, responsive recoil. All of these opening up surfing all the waves the ocean has, small to big, full to powerful, beach breaks, reef and point breaks. The board features enabling you to do whatever moves you want, and making those moves easier to achieve.
However, a lot of Advanced or Pro Bodyboards have features optimised for certain aspects of bodyboarding. So along with performance all-purpose boards, there are boards that give you great carving, or better for drop knee, or better spins, or air, better for smaller or bigger waves.
Look how flat the board is going into this drop where speed is needed to be in front of the lip. At the bottom the surfer will want his board to flex as he jams into a carve. So the features of this board are giving speed where needed and carve where needed
For example there are different tail bodyboards that give you more area in the tail. These can give more speed or more floatation for more body weight being back over the tail or more release.
Check the variety of channels available. The channels on the left are the entry level. They’re proven to be functional and work. Some channels of full single concaves, others are a single concave going to a double. Other’s widen at the rear extending to the rails. All give your board a different feel and different performance in differing wave conditions. Come in-store to discuss how these work for your boarding
There are different bottom channels that can also give more speed, more control and carve. In the design, channels can be aligned with stringers so as to optimise flex with water flow. The channels can be optimised with board thickness, so that while you lose thickness and hence floatation with channels, you get it back with an enhanced tail and rail design.
At this skill level you can surf a smaller board that’s easier to manage and control, as your skill and fitness level should now have the propulsion power to cope with less floatation.
You can see the way the water is shooting off this slick indicating the speed delivered by the higher quality surface. The board is also incredibly on rail, just about the whole of the rail is buried, carving into a change of direction. Yet there’s no sign of bogging. This is indicative of great design coupled with great materials
The features in Advanced Bodyboards can involve tradeoffs. Yet advanced design and materials are combined to give greater performance than lower end boards. Also in terms of tradeoffs, at this level, you will likely find yourself going for several boards, each optimised for the different surfing you want to do.
What it’s all about
To get the best board for you, come in-store and check out our comprehensive Bodyboard range and discuss what you’re trying to achieve. You can feel the boards, check out the different features, the different budget categories. We can help match you to a great board for summer surfing, or one to rapidly advance and progress your bodyboarding.