When we talk about surfing, no worries everyone visualizes. But when we talk about bodysurfing, everything becomes a little more vague. Do we use a board or not? Do we use fins or not? Is this children that take foam during summer holidays?
Let's explain everything !
Bodysurf over the years
Bodysurfing is a Hawaiian ancestral practice, it is the purest way to surf a wave. Practiced even before the appearance of the surf, it consists of surfing a wave without a board, in lying position only propelled by fins and possibly helped by a handplane.
From the beginning, the kingship and the more seasoned of the well-to-do already begin to prefer to be admired on a Surf but Bodysurf is practiced indifferently by all social classes and spreads quickly around the world.
In the 60s, the leash did not exist, and all surfers also had to be perfect swimmers to get their boards on the beach. And yes, surfers were all, therefore, excellent bodysurfers! Californian bodysurfers who are masters of the discipline, start to try anything and everything by hand to improve gliding performances. They came to understand how to be higher on the wave to reduce friction resistance: from flip flops to McDonald's plastic trays to Frisbee, 'handboarders' tried everything.
Today, bodysurf is a federated practice, with its pro riders and international competitions. A lot of shapers and resourceful practitioners started making their own handplane.
Why and how do you make a bodysurf Handplane?
The subtlety of the Bodysurf is to optimize the energy of the wave to slide on it because the body slips less than a surfboard. That’s why they use handplanes, that are a precious help !
Is bodysurfing handplane as « sustainable » as a surfboard?
The materials remain toxic, and strongly impact our environment ... Fortunately, an old friend has found a solution! Originally from Montpellier, his name is Jean-Marc Sauvel and his brand, Armada Handplanes, was set up in Zarautz in Spain's Basque country.
Its brand is renowned beyond our borders and competes in the community since 2013. Following a herniated disc preventing him from surfing, Jean Marc decided to start bodysurfing to keep in touch with the ocean. Immediately seduced, he quickly decided to optimize his glide with a handplane.
This is where it all starts. His first model made only with waste materials recovered from a shaper friend: Ilussions surfboards. Seeing that it was possible, he continued to explore this responsible track, and today excels in all stages of product creation. With nearly 300 customs made since, Jean-marc continues to explore this side of the slide that he still loves as much. As he says himself " bodysurf saved me, it's my best therapy and I'll always be grateful". Injured for a long time, bodysurfing made him forget his herniated disc. Indeed bodysurfing is very close to swimming and we all know that it is very beneficial for back problems. Since Jean-Marc has returned to surf and he alternates both practice. But now, when the conditions are aligned to offer big barrels he opts most often for his pair of fins and his handplane ...
The three materials needed to make a Handplane are foam, fiberglass, and resin.
Foam comes from old surfboards. Fiberglass comes from shaper workshop leftovers. Resin is the hardest component to recover, because once dry, it is impossible to melt it and use it a second time. Curious and ingenious, Jean-Marc found the parade! It picks-up the resin directly during the surfboard stratification by recovering drops that normally fall to the ground and are lost. 100% recycled so!
Quid of hand straps and handplanes’ cover?
Even the Handstrap is made locally and by hand by Manu Vergely, a professional sail repairer. Handstrap is a very important part of the handplane. It took about twenty prototypes to find what is considered as the best handstrap on the market. Covers are all unique and entirely sewn by hand, from recycled components. Here again, we focus on details to always make a well-done work.
Quality, innovation, and eco-responsibility sum up perfectly Jean-Marc Sauvel’s work, with Armada Handplanes, a luxury Slow life brand!
What neoprene wetsuits should you wear to bodysurf?
To wear wetsuits is crucial, as the goal is to minimize friction when moving. An integral wetsuit allows a better flotation. To keep the style in the barrel, nothing is worth our last model, the MARIUS WETSUIT 4/3 OR 5/4. It is the result of feedback from the market (distributors and riders), in both technical and aesthetic terms. It has been developed and tested to be versatile and multi-disciplinary (wind, wave, paddle). It's a warm, comfortable wetsuits thanks to a new exclusive and durable fit. Limestone Superstretch neoprene, fully lined and coated.
STAN wetsuit model made its proofs for years alongside Fred David (famous world champion in Bodysurfing)! Offering comfort, flexibility, warmth, and sturdiness, the STAN WETSUIT 3/2 OR 4/3 is a unique wetsuit for temperate waters.
And for bodysurfing girls?
Also, girls have the right to be fashion in the tube. For that, the LISA WETSUIT 3/2 OR 4/3 is made up for you. Openly inspired by the discreet elegance of the bustier pants with its demarcation above the chest and its mini "V". It has a back zip and an inner back (Back Wash) apron clearing the bust part. This system offers the quadruple advantage of easy donning, increased comfort for the chest, the guarantee of an airtight wetsuits, and increased glide in bodysurf!
What are the best wave spots for bodysurfing ?
As the ancients know, Hawaii is not the cradle of this practice for nothing. Panic Point in Oahu remains Mecca. Pipeline’s hollow and tubular monsters are hurtled by the best bodysurfers around the world (and especially Hawaiians we will not lie). Each year there is a world championship stage in this spot.
The Wedge in California, is also very hardcore.
The general level of athlete evolved enormously these last years. Now we can see bodysurfers tackle Nazaré or huge slabs like Cape Solander in Australia
Brazil is also very present with a lot of practitioners.
The Landes are also an unlimited playground! The hollow and powerful waves of the South West seduce every day more and more waterwoman and waterman.
Globally, wherever there are nice clean and regular waves (California, South Africa, Australia, France, etc.)
If you are a waterman or a waterwoman
Cover picture: PABLO AZKUE
photo: GABI AYMAT