Kira Llewellyn, nine times Australian bodyboarding champion and winner of the Australian Professional Women's Tour for four consecutive years, shares with us her tips and techniques for bodyboarding.
Bodyboarding is a wonderful exercise because it works your legs, hips and stomach. Last but not least it is extremely fun!
What appeals to me most is the lifestyle - bodyboarding has its similarities to gymnastics, in the way we manoeuvre around in the ocean. It's a fun sport, which leaves me feeling healthy, fit and fresh.
I have always been involved in sport since I could pick up a ball or run on an athletics track, but being in the water and surfing waves which will never be the same twice, is just an exciting rush - bodyboarding is the new surfing. It's only been around for about the last 25 years and in that time it has changed remarkably into the professional level, which it is at currently.
A boogie board is now used as a name for the cheap foam boards you can buy from places like K-Mart which consist only of a piece of foam maybe with a covering of material, it's used to begin on - possibly without using swim fins.
A bodyboard is a more advanced piece of equipment, which both beginners and professionals can use. Made up of different types of foam such as Polypropolene, and materials like Softlon and Sealtex treated foams as a deck and rail covering for the inner core, and hard 'slicks' on the bottom for extra speed.
When taking children body or boogie boarding you should look for safe spots - even between the flags. Talk to local surfers and lifeguards before getting in the water if you have any questions.
Use wisdom in choosing time and place of taking off on a wave. Don't depend on the bodyboard as floatation device; children should learn to swim before tackling big waves and going out where they can't reach the ocean floor. Also make sure you avoid the sun between 11am and 2pm.
- A bodyboard, around 100cm long with a slick bottom.
- Fins (open heeled type) and neoprene foot socks available also to protect your feet from blisters.
- Leashes for your bodyboard and fins so they don't get lost in the water.
- One-piece swimsuit, wetsuit, or boardshort and T-shirt.
- Sunscreen that is waterproof 15+
Hold on to the bodyboard with one hand on the top rail and the elbow resting on the deck. The other hand should hold the bodyboard about a third of the way down with the elbow up at a 50-degree angle, to have the leverage to hold the rail of the board in the wave. Head and chest should be up off the board, and a huge smile should be on your face.
When catching a wave it is important to kick with your fins while pushing the front of the board down the face of the wave. As soon as you feel the wave moving you forward turn the board towards the shoulder of the wave (away from the breaking part; good waves peel off cleanly left or right with a smooth face for you to ride). Take your hand that is on the outside or closest to the beach and move it a third of the way down the board as described above and pull up on the rail to turn the board and keep the edge from sliding out, remembering to keep the head and chest up and smile to your friend - you're bodyboarding!
Enjoy yourself, and keep living the dream.