K, so you're seen Chad le Clos's new surf range. And you really, really dig those lil hot shorts. But you know the ou's at your local break will stick you head first in a dustbin if you try paddle out for a surf in them. Well, here's the perfect answer to the "how do I rock speedo's without looking like a rock" conundrum!
Yip, wearing a speedo is a totally legit thing to do if you bodysurf. So says legendary Pipe lifeguard and waterman Mark Cunningham. “If you want to learn to bodysurf, then you’ll have to wear a Speedo.” So if one of the most respected ou's on the North Shore says wearing your budgie smuggler is fine, then it is. End of argument.
(but remember, ONLY for bodysurfing, NEVER on a surfboard)
Besides getting you off the hook for flashing your package, there are some really good reasons to fall in love with an often over-looked aspect of being a surfer. Bodysurfing is what will help you survive the summer flatness without having to resort to surfing the P&P shopping trolley whilst doing your groceries to get that glide sensation. (Trolley-surfing rocks. Find a quiet aisle. Push, feet up, glide. Get strange looks from other shoppers. Repeat. Still waiting for it to tip over backwards one day and plonk me straight on my butt in the middle of the shop).
Bodysurfing is gonna be your new best friend this summer - cos hey - it's ALWAYS overhead if you bodysurf. How can that be a bad thing?! And if conditions are right it could be one of the best barrel-fests you ever have. Pull in without consequence.
Throw in the fact that you're going to get the workout from hell within about half an hour seeing as you're keeping yourself afloat out there, and you have the perfect summer surf option.
Ever better, it gets you out at Hummies on those odd cranking days over summer when the beach is packed so they won't let us surf. Instead of staring at perfect lil waves going unridden, ditch the board, grab the fins and head out.
Here's a coupla tips on how to do it, so you don't go and Superman it by heading straight for shore with both arms outstretched in front of you. Leave that for the Vaalies.
When you body surf, you are basically hydroplaning or skimming across the face of a wave using your body. Your bod is now your board. Position yourself like you're doing a one handed push up. You wanna ride on your side. Extend one arm out in front – right arm to go right or left arm to go left – and press off that hand. Your body will roll over on its side, increasing your edge in the water and allowing you to cut across the wave better.
Then, stretch your other arm behind you and press your palm towards the water as a means to control your arch – as with a surfboard, you want your body to have a little curve. And the more rigid you are, the faster you go.
Here's President Obama showing how it's done. Imagine Zuma trying this.....
Obviously gonna be a helluva lot easier to have some fins on. It also helps to have a handplane, cos it gives you that extra lift to keep head out of the water. Make your own, or grab one at Surf Centre Humewood. Using a slipslop works pretty good too.
The principle to remember is: LIFT = SPEED = CONTROL.
The quicker you lift your body up out of the water the less drag you will feel and the faster you will bodysurf across the wave. Since you lack the elevation that sitting on a surfboard gives you, you're gonna find that you have to start relying a lot more on your "feel" of the ocean to pick the goodies.
What sort of handplane to buy? You get one's with a hole in it, which you use to stick your finger through and grip the handplane. Useful so you can switch hands very quick and easily, so if you're out there in a shify line-up that has rights and lefts, this'll work.
Another school of thought is to rather have a handplane with a strap, which affixes your hand to the board in a palm down, fingers splayed, position which is pretty much the natural position of your hand for bodysurfing anyhow. Fingers through the strap thingy, thumb stays on the outside. Unless you'd like to find the handplane wedged halfway up your forearm after a wipeout.
As lighties we always got taught to do a forward roll when we wanted to bail. But this isn't a great idea if you're close to shore - cos going headfirst into the sandbank is a sure-fire way to remove yourself from the gene-pool, and on bigger or hollow waves you gonna get drilled.
Best way to "pull out" without getting a nose full of water is to punch through the face of the wave with the shoulder facing the face of the wave and give a few strong kicks. Drop down extra low in the wave, penetrate the water and twist back through. Lead with your hands. If all goes according to plan, you should pop out the back of the wave unscathed. Theoretically.
Be safe out there cos it's possible to pick up some hectic injuries if you're not careful. Ou's have been paralysed by going head first into sandbanks, or had their backs bust by big lips slamming down on them. But luckily nothing in PE really resembles the infamous Wedge, so a bit of common sense and you should be fine.
So besides letting you get away with wearing a speedo, having a full session of overhead waves with a chance of lank barrels, and a kiff workout, why else should you learn to bodysurf this summer?
So you can do a ridiculously impressive wipeout-to-bodysurf-to-remount-surfboard-into-snap like this ou...