Bodyboarding vs Surfing
Bodyboarding and surfing share a lot in common: Both originate on the Hawaiian Islands thousands of years ago, both take place in the ocean, and both are almost always preformed on waves of various sizes. Both challenge you in different ways, and both have huge ocean loving communities around the world. From North America to Europe, Africa to Asia and back across to Central and South America, these two watersports are a steadfast part of watersport communities everywhere.
For years, surfers, and bodyboarders have had a rivalry, similar to other sports—“my sport is better or more challenging than yours.” Truthfully, both sports have their ups and downs, challenges and unique differences, but both demand a high level of skill, fitness and all around grit to excel at.
For the most part, athletes will interchange from bodyboard and surfing depending on the type of water and weather conditions, however, there for sure is a hardcore bunch on both sides that will never trade one board for another.
When you have tow similar global sports that often participate in the same locations, you can only expect them to throw a dig at each other now and then. They’ll proudly argue the points, pros, and cons as to why their side is so much better than yours.
Questions like “Why should you ride prone when you can surf standing up?” or “Is there a natural way that you can flow with the natural energy of a wave?” and the best of course, “If bodyboarding better than surfing?”
In fact, this was a hot topic around thirty years ago, when surfers would not allow their bodyboarder counterparts anywhere near the top surfing spots and destinations around the world. They didn’t believe that bodyboarding deserved the respect that surfing had.
The Rise of Body Boarding
Thankfully, for everyone involved, that mentality is no longer as prominent as it once was, and both sports cohabitate in the same spaces peacefully (for the most part). It took some time, but people started to recognize that bodyboarding is a sport all of its own. From the new, crazy moves and style that prone riders developed, they paved the way for exploring new ways waves can be ridden.
It wasn’t too long until bodyboarders leveled up their game again, using the water to reach the skies and preformed gravity-defying maneuvers and jumps, changing the dynamic of the sport into one of acrobatic movements. Once that happened, surfers accepted them, and from there on out, both have ridden the waves together into the sunset.
Today, we’ll be diving deep into what makes both sports so different (yet so similar) and why so many bodyboarders claim that bodyboard trumps surfing, or if it’s really the other way around?
What’s the Key Difference Between Surfing and Bodyboarding?
The most notable difference between surfing and bodyboarding is that, for surfing, you are standing up on your board while surfing the waves. Whereas in bodyboarding, you are in a prone position, riding the waves. At first, glance, you’ll most likely think that surfing is more challenging since you are standing up, but bodyboarding definitely has its own challenges.
But when bodyboarding, you are heading face first—literally—as you fly across the water, skimming the surface as you ride the waves. There is something we need to point out right here: There is a popular stereotype that continues to exist—that bodyboarding is an intro to surfing, that it’s much easier, and that it’s just summer entertainment. That may have been right at one point, but not true in the least today.
Nowadays, bodyboarding is a highly technical watersport. If you know how to surf, you won’t instantly take to bodyboarding. In fact, modern competitive bodyboarding has transformed and evolved so much that it can’t be compared to surfing at this point.
With that said, the rivalry between surfers and bodyboarders is, most of the time, just a fun jab at the other. With both sports becoming more and more technical and evolving, saying one is better than the other doesn’t make sense anymore.
Braver Than Most
Come on, let’s not beat around the bush. When it comes to surfing and descending a massive wave, standing up makes you feel more in control than laying on your stomach while traveling at top speeds down a massive water wall. Your face is just inches away from the water and everything just looks different which leads us to our next point…
Bigger and Better
When you are bodyboard, seeing a massive wave start to form, when moving to ride it back just hits different. Due to the change in perspective between surfing and bodyboarding, laying flat down makes the waves look even more massive than they already are. It definitely adds a lot of drama, in the very least!
Another aspect of bodyboarding is that is opens up doors to waves that surfers cannot ride. Bodyboarders have the ability to drop into waves that are steeper or deeper, and even later than surfers can, offering more opportunities to those looking for different waves.
Flying Through the Air
Using techniques developed in the bodyboarding world, bodyboarders can ride different waves—fast moving, powerful, hollow waves. Combining that with using fin and leg power, bodyboarders can launch themselves into the air, doing gravity-defying tricks and maneuvers that will make your heart skip a beat.
Most agree: the sense of speed from riding a bodyboard leaves surfing in the dust. Your eyes are around one foot above the water, you’re riding a fierce wave, and you better bet your sense of speed makes you think you are travelling at the speed of light.
So, what do you think? Is bodyboarding better than surfing? There really isn’t a trite answer, as everyone who participates in either (or both sports) will have their own option. And really, as long as everyone is enjoying themselves, does it really matter? Both offer so much in different ways, yet are close enough that you can go back and forth whenever you feel like it. Can you hear the sea calling your name?
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