Today is International Surfing Day, an annual event when all surfers worldwide catch waves, organize beach cleanups and celebrate the ocean and it's brotherhood. But only if you stand up when you ride. Unfortunately, the surf community has for too long ignored all other wave riders who don't happen to ride standing upright on a fiberglass board. It is my sincere hope that someday, International Surfing Day will include ALL riders of waves and brothers of the ocean, regardless of their choice of board (or use of any board at all). The ocean needs us now more than ever and it needs us unified in cause and purpose to protect it for generations to come. Mahalo!
Every break will change. Pipeline. Teahupoo. Your local favorite. Some may get better, some may disappear. There will be new ones. But every surf break will change when the oceans rise. Even a meter, around three feet, would make a huge difference; two meters would be devastating. Have you ever seen your local break on a super high tide? Imagine that is your new super low tide and you'll get the picture. But how much do we really care? What are we really doing about it? And why are we divided by how we ride when the entire future of what we ride is at stake?
Surfers, meet bodyboarders. They are your friends. They are not learning to ride waves so they can eventually stand upright (though some choose to). They are part of the evolution of wave riding. And they are here to stay. And your new best friends, the stand-up paddleboarders? They've joined the party too, not to mention kite-surfers, skimboarders and I'm sure eventually rocket-powered hydroskimmers that shoot you through a Teahupoo closeout faster than ever. Oh, I forgot; Teahupoo doesn't exist anymore. Yea, there's a new wave there but it breaks all weird; needs a good couple thousand years to start grooming that reef just right. Just a blink in eternity, but far longer than you'll be around. Which brings me back to the ocean and where we are today.
If we wave riders don't band together and do more for it, we are just as guilty for what happens to it. We must have unity and we must have it now. I am calling on The Sport of Surfing to stop discriminating against The Sport of Bodyboarding and embrace your brothers and sisters towards a common cause. For far too long, there has been an unspoken and pervasive discrimination against bodyboarding, which is most obvious on the websites that pertain to surf and surf forecasts, namely Surfline.com and the myriad of others which we wave riders depend on for surf info. When we hit these websites to check the wave forecasts, it is almost as if bodyboarding barely exists and if it does, it's often with insults, "dick-draggers" being the most recent. (It's true, my dick does drag when I drop in to a tasty barrel; that's partly a rudder effect to make up for the larger drag of my balls.) But I digress...
Bodyboarders buy everything advertised in surf mags and websites except for the boards. Clothes, shoes, shades, DVD's, wetsuits, wax, trips to exotic locales, you name it, we buy it. But Bodyboarding Magazine and the global Bodyboarding contest circuit has none of the sponsorship or industry support that the sport of Surfing does. Hey Quicksilver, why no love? Hurley? Billabong? Afraid bodyboarders will proliferate? Buy your products? Share your waves? We already do. True to form, most bodyboarders know their sport is an underdog and they tend to buy products from companies that support bodyboarding, like No Friends and ebodyboarding.com. But if you show our sport some love, we'll buy your products and pimp em out worldwide. Whether or not you see us as equals, surely you can see us as consumers and market to us. But first you have to acknowledge we exist.
For instance, I see news of every minor surf contest all over Surfline's front page but where was Mike Stewart's return to the World Tour Top Ten last year on the pro bodyboarding circuit? The nine-time World Champion bodyboarder (and twelve-time World Champ bodysurfer!) still holds his own against riders half his age and he almost took title number 10 last year. Doesn't rising to the top of your game again at 46 years old deserve one of the front page slots on Surfline? Or at least a mention? Our Hawaiian brothers Jeff and Dave Hubbard are also representing the US on the global circuit big time and there are tons of other super talented pro bodyboarders from a myriad of countries kicking ass out there. But you'd never know it from viewing Surfline. They are effectively marginalizing a huge segment of the wave riding population at a time when the ocean needs us the most. The BP oil spill could have happened on any surf-rich coastline instead of the mostly waveless gulf, making any of our local surf breaks uninhabitable for months or years. We need not wait for a major catastrophe to hit our favorite break to imagine what devastation might ensue; there are heartbreaking reminders coming out of the Gulf of Mexico every day since the spill.
It is time to drop the prejudices of the past and not just get along but really and truly unite. Let's have more events together, more photo spreads together, more trips together. Let's see Laird Hamilton and Mike Stewart tearing it up at Teahupoo, or Jeff Hubbard trading airs with Christian Fletcher at Padang. Let's unite for our common causes through organizations like Surfrider, who could stand to do more outreach in the bodyboarding community in general. We all respect the code of the waves: I won't drop in on your wave and I'll hoot when you snag a sick pit. You just might give a hoot back when I snag mine. But don't forget we are all surfing on borrowed time.
In an April 2009 Guardian poll, they found "Almost nine out of 10 climate scientists do not believe political efforts to restrict global warming to 2C will succeed," predicting "an average rise of 4-5C by the end of this century," which will lead to massive coastal flooding and the death of every surf break as we know it. The status quo is untenable; the outcome, grave.
So let's start the unification, let's connect the brotherhood. Sean Collins, bodyboarders are your people; wave and ocean people. Change the social norms and make Surfline about the waves, not just stand-up surfers. We ALL surf, just on different boards. Do not alienate us or continue the apartheid against bodyboarding. We are here to stay and frankly, the ocean and its brotherhood (and sisterhood) need us. You need us and we need you. There is strength in numbers and it is time we gather together. Because the fight ahead is for our beaches, for our waves and for our lives, and time is running out. Let's rock, shall we?
Robbie "G-Nutz" Gennet
"Out of the water, I am nothing." - Duke Kahanamoku
Check out my conversation with Surfing Magazine senior editor Matt Walker regarding Bodyboarding coexisting with Surfing:
I also encourage you to pick up the July 2010 issue of Surfing Magazine and read Matt's excellent piece "Soft Boards, Hard Truths" on page 53!
For more information on the Sport of Bodyboarding, peruse these links:
Bodyboarder Magazine http://www.bodyboarder.com/
International Bodyboarding Association http://www.ibaworldtour.com/
Bodyboarder International Association http://www.biatour.net/
Riptide Magazine http://www.riptidemag.com.au/
All Bodyboarders http://www.allbodyboarders.com/
Surge Bodyboarding http://www.surgebodyboarding.com/
71 Magazine http://71mag.com/
A-Frame Magazine http://www.a-framemag.com/
Vert Magazine http://www.vert-mag.com/
ThreeSixty Magazine http://orcasurf.co.uk/threesixty/
LeBoogie Magazine http://www.leboogie.com/
Spunjah Chronic http://spunjahchronic.com/
Latin Bodyboarder http://www.latinbodyboarder.com/
Top Quality Boards and Gear:
No Friends http://www.nofriends.com/
The No 6 http://www.theno6.com/
Mike Stewart Science http://www.mikestewart.com/
Morey Bodyboards http://www.moreybodyboards.com/
Turbo Bodyboards http://www.turbosurfdesigns.com.au/
Ben Severson Designs http://www.benseverson.com/
BZ Bodyboards http://www.bzproboards.com/
Custom X Bodyboards http://www.custom-x.com
LMNOP Bodyboards http://www.surfelemenohpee.com/
Toobs Bodyboards http://www.toobs.com
Milkshakes Bodyboards http://www.milkshakesdesigns.com
Viper Fins http://www.viperfins.com/
Hydro Fins http://www.hydrosportz.com/
Respect Bodyboards http://www.respectbodyboards.com/
Alternative Surf http://www.alternativesurf.com/
Eppo's Bodyboard Shop http://www.bodyboardshop.com/
The Foam Company http://www.thefoamco.com/
Cartel Board Co. http://www.cartelboardco.com/
662 Mob http://www.662bodyboardshop.com/
Bodyboard King http://www.bodyboardking.com/
Ocean Current http://www.oceancurrent.com/
Agent Eighteen http://www.agenteighteen.com/
Jeff Hubbard http://www.hubbbodyboarding.com/
Mitch Rawlins http://mitchrawlins.com/ (watch the Hiding from Comfort trailer!)
Andre Botha http://www.dreboy.com/bodyboarding/
Download some awesome bodyboarding wallpapers courtesy of Riptide: http://www.riptidemag.com.au/wallpapers
ESPN: How Bodyboarding's influence on surfing runs deep:
Follow Robbie Gennet on Twitter: www.twitter.com/robbiegennet