Board and Gear Guide
Picking a board or your equipment can be a mine field of choices and decision. Brands, styles, sizing and terms, the choices are endless, so we have put this board and equipment guide together with a run down on terms and description to either help you with your choices or confuse you even more....
There is a lot of information in this guide but if you read through it I'm sure you will have a better understanding of what you are riding and how to choose the equipment to best suit you and where you ride.
The template refers to the overall shape or outline of your bodyboard. Different templates are designed for different uses IE: Big waves, Small waves, fatter waves, drop knee..etc
Bodyboards come in many shapes and sizes. They can be broken down into three basic shapes:
Prone: This shape generally has it's widest point further forward to support the upper body of a rider that mainly lays down while riding.
Dropknee: Has a lower wide point, closer to halfway down the board. A lower wide-point helps a rider who practices the dropknee stance as they will have the bulk of their weight further back on the board. It also facilitates easier turning to have the board's outline taper more toward the nose.
Versatile/Combo: This shape is a hybrid of the other two. It can work equally effectively in both the prone position and dropknee stance.
CNC SHAPED TEMPLATES: CNC boards have a precision cut template shaped by a purpose built CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) machine. This makes sure every board comes out exactly as planned with no imperfections.
Length: The length refers to the overall length of the board from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail.
Nose Width: The finished nose width of the board is the complete width at the nose including rail skins.
Width/Wide point : The Wide point of your board is pretty self explanatory..... It's the widest point of your board.
Wider boards work best in small, weaker surf as they provide more flotation to get you through the sections. Narrower boards are suited to bigger, more powerful waves.
Depending on the type of waves you ride and your style this will depend whether you have a higher or lower wide point.
Nose to Wide Point: This is the distance from the nose to the widest point of the board. The distance from the nose will determine the overall template and feel of the board. A high wide-point is suited to prone boards and spinning manoeuvres. A lower wide-point is best suited to versatile and drop-knee boards.
Tail Width: The finished tail width of the board is the complete width at the tail including rail skins.
Size is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a new bodyboard. Both weight and height make a difference to your performance of your board. Even half an inch in either length or width the wrong way can affect your ability to catch waves and make manoeuvres a lot harder than they should be.
For a rough sizing guide for length, when you sit your board on it's tail your ideal bodyboard should reach your belly button. Heavier riders are advised to choose a template with increased width for extra flotation and buoyancy.
The sides of the board. The Rails of your board are usually described as a ratio of the top rail (Chine) that rolls over from the deck compared to the bottom part. The most popular bodyboard rail set ups have 60/40 rails, meaning the bottom makes up 60% of the rail and the top makes up 40%.
A larger the bottom rail, the more friction it creates, therefore the better the board grips the wave face and for turns. If the bottom rail is smaller, for example 50/50 rails, there is less friction and more speed but you sacrifice a small percentage of the control you'll have.
50/50: An even blend between top rail and bottom rails which work best for smaller, lighter riders in small surf.
55/45: The choice for many pro riders these days. The perfect blend between control and speed but takes a little bit of practice to keep control in bigger surf.
60/40: The original rail set-up and standard for riders in powerful and small surf alike. These are a great all round setup
Vaxtrax: The Vax Trax Rail is graduated concave on the bottom rail, starting in the mid-section and becoming more prominent towards the tail section of the board
Rounded or Transitional rails: A one-piece, transitional rail from a roughly 60/40 rail at the tail to a rounded, surfboard-like rail toward the nose
Deck: The top bit......The part you lay on......
This is the foam that covers the deck and rails. 99% of the boards on the market have one of two skin types:
Polyethylene (PE): Just like the core material, PE deck and rail skins offer superior performance. The majority of mid to upper level boards use this PE for their decks and rails.
Crosslink: This is a denser, tighter-celled material that has a smooth finish and is a bit harder than PE skin. The downside is that it doesn't have the same "spring" that PE skins have, so it will wrinkle and crease a bit more easily.
Slick: The slick is the underside of your board that has the shiny plastic type material.
Surlyn: This is the best bottom skin you can currently get for bodyboards. It's the same polymer plastic that covers most golf balls. It's very resilient and is less prone to creasing than it's less expensive counterpart HDPE
HDPE (High density polyethylene): It's tough for most people to tell the difference between HDPE and Surlyn bottoms. They look and feel the same, but HDPE bottoms tend to crease easily which is why HDPE-bottom boards are cheaper than the high performance Surlyn slicked boards.
This refers to the amount of "flatness" in the board. If you lay the board flat on the ground and can't "rock" the board from the tail, it has "flat rocker". The nose curve is going to keep the nose off the ground, but the tail on most production bodyboards should be flat. The more “banana-like” the curve in a bodyboard, the more rocker it has. A board with rocker will decrease speed but make the board more responsive. Ideally, a board will have a flat rocker, but enough flex to bend when required but return to it's original shape.
Excess heat will also cause rocker to occur, so keeping the bodyboard in a cool place when not in the water is a great idea. If your board is exposed to heat, it can also develop the dreaded "reverse rocker" where the board actually goes convex, causing frequent nose dives.
The tail of your board is the bottom section of your board and comes in a many different styles but there are 2 main styles that riders prefer.
A narrow tail will make the board loose and easy to release for spins and quick turns. A wider tail will pick up speed faster than a narrow tail, but is harder to turn.
Crescent: The most common and popular tail shape. A Cresent tail provides good bite on the wave face and helps keep your body positioned on the board. It's also the preferred tail shape for dropknee/standup riders. Classic crescent tails run a 40° radius curve cut, for rider comfort and quick release.
Bat tail: This tail type comes in a few variations including the delta tail, but in general it provides more surface area in the tail which adds lift for optimal down the line speed. , but also makes the board a bit looser and better for spin manoeuvres in smaller waves, but it takes a bit more edge control to make the best use of a bat tail.
Other Tails: There are many other tails that have been tried and tested but as you will find as you research the cresent and Bat tails are the most used and popular
Channels on a bodyboard refer to the contour of the slick side of the bodyboard
Graduated channels increase the surface area of the slick and channels and allow the flow of water along the rail / hull for enhanced edge control they give that extra bite in steep barrelling sections
This is how your board is put together to suit the type of waves you surf, water temperature, style and how hard you are on your boards.
A stringer is a hollow, filament wound composite fibre tube used for board strength, instant recoil and to attempt to keep the board usable if it becomes creased.
Mesh is a diamond shaped plastic mesh weave, laminated between the core and the slick for improved stiffness and recoil.
This new layer consists basically of a layer of slick sandwiched between the deck skin and the core. It provides dent prevention on the deck side of the board and a level of stiffness that's greater than mesh, but less than a stringer.
This is the most common bodyboard set up. Paired with a PP core it is ideal for warmer waters for a stiffer thinner board. When combined with NRG or PE it suits colder water climates. A single stringer is inserted into the core of the board parallel to the rails. It is designed to strengthen the board, reduce creasing and rocker (but not stop it), add stiffness and spring-like recoil to the core, thus providing greater speed off bottom turns and transitions on the wave.
A double stringer consists of two stringers inserted into the core of the board parallel to the rails. Similarly to the single stringer set-up, this construction depends on what core it is combined with. Overall, the double stringer provides greater stiffness and durability than a single stringer and is best suited for those needing to generate a lot of speed to make it through fast breaking sections.
This is a popular choice amongst pro riders and high end board, particularly in their cooler water composite material boards. The Triple Stringer System features a full length central stringer, with two shorter stabilising stringers, running from the tail and along the rail, either side of the central stringer increasing the strength of the board through it's mid section. The triple stringer set up delivers stiffness to the the back end of the board without effecting nose flex.
Precision Recoil Stringer
also known as PRS is a tapered carbon fibre stringer. The PRS is wider and stiffer at the tail of the board, and becomes narrower and more flexible as it gets closer to the nose of the board. This stringer works with the core adding spring like recoil in the nose while maintaining stiffness in the tail, the perfect combination for board projection.
Tension Tech is a mesh sub sandwich layer. It consists of a sheet of mesh sandwiched in between the two layers of 1.5mm IXLPP (crosslink polypropylene). This allows the manufactures to produce a much thinner core without sacrificing strength, resulting in an incredibly strong board with excellent recoil. Combined with Polypro, this makes an extremely stiff board, perfect for tropical locations.
Ideal for high performance bodyboarding in cool water environments. Using cutting edge expansion cell technology, The core is 100% waterproof. The construction contains a single stringer combined with deck and slick mesh. This creates constant rebound memory giving great responsiveness and projection throughout the board
Ideal for Mid - Cool water environments. All the properties of the Triple Stringer setup combined with deck & slick mesh. This is a spring loaded flex construction designed for elastic energy and maximum board projection. A board with projection flies off the lip and springs out of landings. With the reinforcements in this construction, this provide maximum durability for a cool water board.
The Interchangeable Stringer System revolutionises high performance bodyboarding by giving the rider the freedom to fine tune the flex of their board to suit the wave and water conditions. Using patented Load and Lock technology, ISS stringers are inserted and removed with the turn of a key. The ISS range of stringers utilises the latest advancements in composite construction and manufacturing technology to create a quiver of shafts that covers the full spectrum of riders and flex requirements without having to change boards.
The core refers to the internal foam the board is made of. It will determine the flex characteristics of the board as well as the price of the board.
Polyethylene or PE
Can typically be as much as double the price of an entry level board.
PE cores have stood the test of time and for 4 decades has been a great core that is both high-performance and buoyant as well as durable. Polyethylene cores are a little heavier than PP and will be on the flimsy side in warmer waters, if you are a rider that is very hard on your boards and you ride warm water zones more than 20/c or 68/f degrees and above, the PE core will become flexy, buckel and crease more easily
Modern performance PE core boards, with a few exceptions, usually have at least one stringer in them and mesh as well to prevent them from flexing too much, so even if you do happen to crease them, they won't hinge on the crease and will still work as well as they did before the crease. PE is the way to go for a high performance board at a reasonable price in cooler waters.2. Polyethylene (PE) (Dow): PE core has been used in bodyboard manufacturing since the mid-1970s. It's very durable and has very good "recoil", meaning it springs back nicely when flexed. Performance is very good with this type of core in all but the warmest of water temperatures, but when the water gets warm (75F/23C), it tends to get soft.
Polypropylene or PP
PP Cores are preferred by warm water riders and those looking for a stiffer ride. They’re lighter and stronger than their PE counterparts and so offer a faster ride and extra speed out of turns. A beaded PP board also has the ability to recover its original shape extremely well preserving its life span, over and above a PE board.
Though a PP board may seem tempting to use in cooler waters, its extra stiffness can make for an uncomfortable and uncontrolled ride especially during the winter. The lack of flex may also render simple moves a real challenge. Some riders like this extra stiffness and feel that it gives them speed and makes the board last for a good length of time.
Despite this, beaded PP has become the industry standard for high performance riding because the manufacturing process allows for increased consistency in Core density. This means PP has better buoyancy properties which makes some moves easier and generally means that it’s faster, especially in smaller waves.
Generally, beaded PP foam lasts much longer than a PE Core. Though in bigger sucky waves like shore breaks, some riders prefer the increased flex that PE Cores offer. It has the ability to bend and shape itself into the wave face more easily. 3. Polypropylene (PP): Polypro core comes in differing densities. It is a beaded core that looks a lot like EPS, but is much more durable. It is less temperature-sensitive than PE core, so it maintains it's good flex characteristics in all water temperatures. It's also lighter in weight than PE core and also more expensive.
Dual Cores (3D Cores)
Polyethylene and Polypropylene are the two main building blocks of board Cores, as we’ve already mentioned, and they represent each end of the spectrum. Stiff and flexible foam. As board technology progresses, manufacturers have developed boards that now include the characteristics of both materials. These are known as 3D Cores. They use layers of both PE and PP foam creating a sandwich affect which offers extra durability and bodyboard performance.
Low Density PP Cores
PP Cores are also starting to appear with a lower density, which means they’re less rigid. However, these go by different names depending on the manufacturer. NMD and VS call them NRG Cores whereas Found call them Paradox and Core call them PX cores. For many riders this design offers the best of both worlds; a light board with good buoyancy and flex when the water is cool while holding its own in warm water without turning to jelly.
An Expanded Polystyrene Core or EPS most commonly features on entry level or beginner bodyboards. This stiff but lightweight foam provides the ideal platform for diving onto broken waves and riding them to the beach. It offers great buoyancy and a reasonable amount of flex. Perfect for first-timers tackling their first waves. 1. EPS: Extruded Polystyrene is the cheapest core. It's very light weight, not very durable and is used on entry-level boards. It dents quite easily and will snap in half if put under stress.
3D - Dual Core (Made up of a sandwich of PE and PP)
EPS - Epanded Polystyrene Core
Freedom 6 PP - Beaded Polypropylene
Loaded - Low Density PP
NRG - Low Density PP
PC - Paradox Core (Low Denisity PP)
PE - Polyethylene
PFS - Parabolic Flex System ( Central Section of board is thicker PP with a thinner band of PP on the rails.
PP - Polypropylene
PX - Low Density PP
M Core – Hands down, the stiffest core on the market. Preferred in warmer temperatures. Special blend designed by Custom X
D12 - EXPANDED POLYPROPYLENE 1.2LB DENSITY FOAM. 100% WATER PROOF. The engineered D12™ has been developed to give the rider more flex & recoil in a PP board. The characteristics of D12 create superior control. Ideal for the rider looking for a high performance bodyboard with additional flex.
Hand bulbs/finger bulbs: These are raised bumps on the top corners of the board (hand bulbs on the deck/finger bulbs on the slick bottom) that enhance your grip on the board by providing a raised surface for your palm or fingertips to "grip" on to.
Elbow pads/locks: Contouring to provide your elbows a place to sit on the deck that either pads them or holds them in position.
Hand wells: Subtle depressions on the deck up at the nose where the palms of your hands comfortably sit to provide better grip.
Hip channels: Subtle depressions on the deck at the tail end where your hips sit to provide hold for your body on the board.
Bottom channels: Gouged out areas on the bottom end of the board's slick bottom that help funnel water flow off the tail of the board for maximum control and horizontal stability while riding.
Choosing the right fins is all about comfort.
With so many styles and shapes available you'll need to try on as many different types as you can to see what will suit you.
Fins are worn to help generate power in the water by either catching waves or to help with stability while on the wave.
First and foremost, when we are talking fins, is comfort. As you will be wearing your fins for long periods of time in the water the last thing you want is ill fitting fins.
Loose fitting fins can cause foot ulcers and blistering of the skin and the possibility of your fins coming off in rough surf.
Fins that are too tight can cause horrible cramping and ruin a surf.
Make sure they are firm around the ankle and a comfortably snug fit in the foot pocket.
Types of fins:
Asymmetrical (Or Dolphin style
These fins will have a specific left and right foot and will create an inward kicking style. This style will give you great drive and hold in the waves face.
Symmetrical/Straight cut (Both fins are the same shape)
Most Symmetrical fins can fit on either foot and create extra power due to more surface area
Bodyboard leashes can be uncomfortable to wear if you pick the wrong one, but they're essential equipment in bodyboarding. To start things off, pluging you board can be tricky process if you are unfamiliar with how to do it. It's a good Idea to look up a video on how to do it of get your local shop to do it for you.
The market offers two different styles of leashes - riders can opt for wrist or bicep bodyboard cords.
Wrist Leashes vs. Bicep Leashes
The wrist bodyboard leash is often used by bodyboard beginners because it makes it easy to bring your board back when you wipe out. Drop-kneers quite often also prefer this type of cord.
However, wrist leashes are not a popular pick among prone riders because when you're paddling, you're dragging the strap and the coil through the water with every paddle stroke.
The bicep bodyboard leash keeps the strap out of the way when you're paddling for or riding a wave. It should be used just above the crease of your elbow or above you bicept, with the coil coming off of the inside of your arm.
You should never go bodyboarding without a bodyboard leash unless you are of a high experience level. If, for any reason, you lose your board in challenging conditions, the cord will keep you at arm's length of the board it may very well save your life.
But the leash is also extremely useful when you're surfing waves that break far from the shore. Without a leash on, an occasional wipeout will force you to swim back in towards the beach to recover the bodyboard which is great for your fitness and commitment to making moves but you could spend most of your surf paddling for your board
Unless you are fortunate enough to live in the tropics, you know importance of a wetsuit and how important it is to your comfort and health when surfing in the cold waters of the open ocean.
There is a wide array of wetsuit types to choose from, as well a range of material thicknesses, allowing you to customize your gear to the water and weather conditions wherever you may be. I strongly recommend buying Bodyboard branded wetsuits. They are designed for our use with the hinges and stitching in all the right places to keep bodyboarders comfortable
Long-sleeved and long-legged
With legs that cut off a few inches below the knee, and either short or long-sleeved arms, this suit is designed for warmer conditions and is usually made of a thinner material.
This suit is a shorter version of the Farmer John, with the same sleeveless construction but the cooler feel of cut-off legs.
This suit envelops your entire body, except face and feet, and usually includes a hood
The overall of the surfing world, this suit is sleeveless with long legs, designed for use with a rash guard on days when the outside air is warm.
Neoprene vests, jackets and shorts, all made with the same construction as a typical wetsuit, fall into this category. These pieces allow customization based on the weather and temperature, both in and out of the water.
The idea behind a wetsuit is to permit a small about of water to seep into the suit initially, which, once heated by your body, forms an insulating layer of warmth. Foam neoprene, treated with water-repellant chemicals, prevents the cold ocean water from continuing to wash in and disturb the temperature within the suit.
The thickness of the suit determines how warm the surfer will remain after time spent submerged in the frigid water; the fatter the material, the warmer he'll be. Neoprene panels come in several thicknesses: usually between 1-6 millimeters. Depending on the water temp, suits are usually pieced together using different thicknesses of neoprene, heavier on the chest and back areas, and thinner on the arms, legs and shoulders. This multi-thickness construction leads to nominal classifications such as 3/2mm (3mm on the core and 2mm on the extremities, in this case).
Because of neoprene's rigid and grippy nature, it can be really tough to yank on a wetsuit and pull it up into place. Luckily, suit manufacturers figured out a way to lessen the resistance formed between the wetsuit and the rider's skin. Smoothskin nylon facing is attached to the inside of the wetsuit, making getting in and out much easier, as well as providing added warmth to the surfer. Sometimes, the material is attached to both the inside and outside of the suit – a material construction known as Nylon 2 – which increases warmth, but also makes the suit more bulky. Smoothskin was a needed advance in wetsuit construction; however the added bulk coupled with a decreased durability in nylon-backed suits are the unfortunate side effects of such a progression. Manufacturers have now begun using lycra, spandex and even wool blends as a replacement for raw nylon backing, leading to wetsuits with much more flex and stretch, and a more streamlined fit.
The first wetsuits weren't terribly effective, largely due to tiny holes left by sewing the pieces of neoprene together. These little gaps allowed the cold outside water to seep in and cool down the trapped, warm water, virtually eliminating the benefits of the suit altogether. In addition, it was easy to tear the fabric apart at the stitching when getting in or out of the suits, as the seams just weren't strong enough to withstand much stretching and pulling. Eventually, taped seams emerged as a way to cover the needle holes and add durability. The tape is made from a strong nylon cloth strip with waterproof backing. By either melting the tape to the neoprene with a heat-sealer or through the use of a chemical solvent, manufacturers can bond the tape to the suit and create a powerful and waterproof connection between panels.
Glued seams emerged for the same reasons that taped seams did: the sewing process left detrimental openings in the wetsuit and needed to be either covered or eliminated. Taping the seams covered the holes and gluing eliminated them. Despite the smooth, low profile surface that gluing creates, the hold is still not very durable on its own. Therefore, gluing is usually coupled with taping to add strength along the seams.
As backed neoprene became the industry standard, this new method of stitching evolved. With the neoprene pieces placed edge to edge, a blindstitch sewing machine uses a curved needle designed to penetrate the material just deep enough to secure a good stitch, but without breaking though the facing on the opposite side. This revolutionary technology gives manufacturers the ability to sew strong seams without leaving any holes behind. It is the most widely used stitching method for waterproof protection and can be found on nearly every modern cold-water wetsuit.
An overlock is the most basic of all seam stitches. If you've ever sewn a pillowcase, you'll recognize the process. The neoprene pieces are placed together, with the outside surfaces facing each other, then stitched together down the edge. When the pieces are bent the other direction (so that the inside surfaces now face each other), they have a solid grip and an invisible seam. The benefits of this construction are a strong hold and a snag-free outer surface. However, the inner hem is raised (which can be irritating), and the seal is not very watertight. Water-resistance can be improved by taping the seams.
This is a more expensive variation on the overlock stitch. Instead of back to back, the neoprene pieces are placed edge to edge and sewn in a flat, circular pattern. The result is a more comfortable seam, but with more needle holes. Because of the additional holes, the flatloc stitch is weaker along the seams and not terribly waterproof, both problems curable by taping the seams.
The fit of a wetsuit is not only important for comfort's sake but also to ensure that the suit is properly insulating the wearer. Basically, the pocket of extra space between the suit and the surfer's skin is designed to trap and heat a layer of ocean water to provide a cocoon of warmth. If a wetsuit is too baggy, the water won't heat up enough; if it's too tight, there won't be enough water to heat. Either way, a proper fit is the only way to get the most out of a wetsuit.
The way that the neoprene material flexes and moves is also a significant aspect of a suit's fit. To surf in comfort, you need to have a wide range of motion through the shoulders and knees to help you paddle and pop up with fluid motions.
WRIST / NECK / ANKLE CLOSURES
These closures should prevent water from washing in and out of the wetsuit at the critical, open portions. Typically, a single-backed strip of neoprene wraps around the opening, making a tight interface with the surfer's skin. This keeps water from entering/exiting, but can be a painful cause of discomfort if not fitted correctly.
Getting in and out of a wetsuit is a learned art. Even the easiest entries, such as full-back zippers, require a bit of practice and a lot of patience at first. The tight fit, sticky material and awkward flexibility of most suits make them pretty tough to adorn. And yes, people do get stuck sometimes, so don't worry if it happens to you.
When you're pulling on the suit, be really careful not to cut the fabric with your fingernails. It's common to want to grab the chest of the wetsuit, dig your nails into the material and yank it on that way, but that can damage the neoprene. Instead, pinch the wetsuit between your fingers and slowly work it up your body. A torn wetsuit is a finished wetsuit. So take good care of yours.
There are several types of wetsuit entry systems designed with either ease-of-use or waterproof comfort in mind. Although called by various technical names in the market, they essentially fall into one of three categories: full back zip, ¾ back zip or chest/front entry. The back zips are the easiest ones to use, but the chest/front entries generally give the best protection from the cold water.
Titanium lining has gained praise as an effective insulator, trapping heat and adding warmth to the suit. The lining is also very low-profile, a needed characteristic in wetsuit construction. It works by reflecting radiated heat back onto the wearer, increasing their warmth. Some surfers swear by it, while others insist there is no difference, so you'll have to decide for yourself whether the somewhat premium price is worth the rewards.
Heated suits are the latest innovation on the surfing scene. A battery-operated heat source warms the suit from the inside. The batteries and the coated fiber elements are built into the lower back of the wetsuit, separated from the wearer's skin by a layer of neoprene. Test riders have claimed that the heated suit is the next big thing in surfing, so stay in the loop and try one for yourself!
Wetsuits come in a range of thicknesses usually described in a millimeter of thickness.
For example the first number in a 3X2 wetsuit tells us the the wetsuit is 3mm thick in the body and the second number tells us the wetsuit is 2mm thick in the arms and legs. The smaller of the 2 numbers usually represents the thickness of the arms and legs as they are usually made thinner to allow the user to paddle and kick with greater ease
Wetsuits come in a range of thicknesses ranging from 1mm summer suits to 6mm full winter suits.