You’re probably thinking, “are you supposed to wax a bodyboard?” and if so how do…
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Ready to get out and enjoy the waves on a bodyboard?
Bodyboarding, or boogie boarding, is a close cousin to surfing, using a board that is significantly shorter than a surfboard.
A bodyboard, or boogie board, is a floating device made from hydrodynamic foam and it’s used to ride the curl, crest or face of a wave.
Alright! We know you’re excited, but trust us – you can’t just pull any bodyboard off the rack. You have to find the one that is right for you. Don’t worry, we’ll show you how to find your match!
For beginners, choosing the right type and right size of a boogie board can be confusing.
Finding the right fit depends on several factors about you, the surfer: your height, weight, body type, and personal preferences.
You’re the one who’s going to be riding it! So let’s talk about those things in relation to the size of bodyboard or boogie board that you should get.
The length of your bodyboard really depends upon how tall you are. A bodyboard’s length should be proportional to your height. That’s number one.
Generally, a heavier and taller surfer would require a longer bodyboard to support his weight and height. Inversely, shorter and lighter surfers would want to get a shorter board.
Getting a bodyboard that is too short or too long can result in more topples and less control while surfing over a wave.
Beware the belly button! Some bodyboarders would say that when choosing a body board, get one that comes up to your navel* when it’s standing up next to you. You know, this is just not entirely true.
Using that method when choosing a bodyboard can be inaccurate.
Choosing a board on height alone won’t get you the right fit. Think of it this way – if two surfers are the same height (and have belly buttons at just about the same height), but one weighs 75 lbs more than the other, will they both need the same size board?
A surfer’s weight is also an important variable when choosing a body board size.
*Watch out for folklore like this – even from the most experienced surfers. And definitely don’t depend on it when choosing a board!
So, we’ve illustrated that a surfer’s weight is important to consider, right?
Since you’re going to be floating on it, you’re going to need a bodyboard that can support your weight and still stay afloat!
The ability to support your weight will also directly relates to the board’s length. Just as a greater height means a longer board, the same goes for weight. Higher weight, longer board.
Some bodyboarders will tell you that your board should fit perfectly under your arm.
Sure, this makes sure that you can carry your board around easily while on the beach, but this also dictates the width of your board without taking other factors into account. So again, this doesn’t work 100% of the time.
What does work then?
Making sure your weight and the board’s width are proportional.
Depending on your weight, you may need a wider board to provide the right buoyancy. This is important for heavier riders who exert more force onto the water.
A boogie board that is too thin can make it harder for them to stay afloat as well as to control the board while surfing.
We’ve covered height and weight, but getting down to the right size board will mean taking your body type into consideration, too.
If you are tall and light, a tall and narrow or thin board can offer you the best floatation and control.
On the other hand, if you are of average or heavier weight and taller height, a tall but wider bodyboard is recommended.
For surfers with shorter height and thin body types, a shorter and narrow bodyboard is the best for better control and flotation.
Moreover, if you have a short height but heavyweight, a short bodyboard with a wider body can be the perfect match.
Phew, we’ve made it through you and your size.
But what what do we mean “wave preference?” It’s all about what you want to do out there!
What type of waves do you want to catch?
If you’re a beginner and want to surf small waves at first, taller or bigger bodyboards are recommended so you can stay afloat better. For big waves, shorter or thinner bodyboards can offer you more control, thus helping you stay afloat on top of big waves.
In general, a shorter bodyboard will give you more control over the wave but will also give you less float.
In contrast, a longer bodyboard is a bit slower and has less control, but can help you stay afloat better.
You’ll get the most out of your first bodyboard if you look into all of these factors before you shop.
Click here for reading our article on best bodyboards in the world.
Before you hit the surf shop, check out this boogie board size chart to help you get a better idea of what size bodyboard will work for you.
A piece of advice: don’t estimate!
To get a bodyboard that is a perfect fit for you, we recommend getting accurate measurements of your height and weight before going to the store or ordering online.
|33-35 in||2-4’||0-65 lbs|
|36-38 in||4-5’||65-85 lbs|
|39 in||4’6”-5’2”||85-115 lbs|
|40 in||5’3”-5’6”||115-130 lbs|
|41-41.75 in||5’7”-5’9”||125-170 lbs|
|42 in||5’9”-6’0”||145-180 lbs|
|42.5 in||5’10”-6’2”||160-190 lbs|
|43 in||6’1”-6’3”||170-210 lbs|
|44 in||6’2”-6’4”||180-270 lbs|
|45 in||6’3”-6’6”||195-255 lbs|
|46 in||6’4” and above||200 lbs and above|
Once you’ve got a good grasp on how you and your board fit together, it’s time to take a look at the physical characteristics and features of a board you’ll need to consider as well, like width, material and design. Let’s check those out.
We’ve established that length is going to be an important characteristic of your board, perhaps the first thing you even look at.
Here are the other factors you need to work into your decision:
This is the tip of the board including the rail skins.
For surfers who want a large planing area in the front of the board, a wider nose width will do. For drop-knee surfers, a narrower nose width will allow more balance since the weight is concentrated on the tail.
The board width is measured from the widest point of the board.
Generally, the board width will depend on what type of waves you will be surfing – and not what you can fit under your arm – as we mentioned earlier.
Bodyboards with bigger widths deliver better flotation and are best suited for small and weak waves, while narrower boards are meant to surf bigger and stronger waves.
If you are a beginner, consider getting a wider board at first before you move to narrower ones.
Another part of the boogie board that would affect your surfing experience is the width of the board’s tail.
A board with a narrow tail can allow for more spins and quick turns, but offers less control. (And this is why we don’t recommend a narrow tail to beginners or less- experienced surfers.) A wider tail, on the other hand, picks up speed faster but is not easy to turn.
This refers to the wide-point distance from the nose of the board.
For drop-knee surfers or more versatile surfers who would like to ride more waves, wide points further back of the board are recommended.
You’ve learned a lot and you’re getting closer to that board!
But before you hit the shop, let’s get an overview of what types of boards are out there and how they affect your surf.
The bodyboard size for a beginner bodyboarder or a child would slightly differ from bodyboards of more experienced surfers.
For either group, float is going to be important.
Generally, a beginner would have a rough time riding the waves if he or she cannot stay afloat for a long while out in the water.
If you are a beginner or would like to choose a boogie board for your child, make sure that the length of the board is proportional to height and weight according to our boogie board sizing chart.
Getting that size right is going to allow for more time on top of the waves – and more fun!
What it’s made of matters!
For a beginner’s bodyboard, we recommend getting one that is made of an EPS (expanded polystyrene) core. An EPS core allows for more buoyancy, strength and cushioning – all important things for bodyboarders learning to surf.
In terms of other parts of the bodyboard, HPDE decks have a low resistance which can translate to more speed even on smaller waves.
On the other hand, XPE or IXPE decks offer greater resistance and high rigidity, which translates to higher durability.
Lastly, a board with a crescent tail or a bat tail will make it easier for the beginner surfer to position himself on the board.
A bodyboarder with intermediate bodyboarding experience has a little more flexibility in choosing a board.
Rather than pick a ride solely based on height, weight and body type, a more experienced surfer can look for a board that fits their riding style.
But I thought size was important!
The size of the bodyboard is still highly dependent on the physical factors of the surfer, but more skill on the waves means that you can vary the width and type of your board for a more diverse surfing experience.
Consider the core.
Knowing the ideal type of core for your bodyboard is significant in order to maximize the number of maneuvers that you can do while out in the water.
Bodyboards made out of PE (polyethylene) and PP (polypropylene) cores are great for experienced surfers who can do more tricks while surfing.
PE cores are less expensive and are recommended for surfers who ride in the cold water, while PP cores stiffer than PEs but tend to resist choppy waves and work well in hot water climates.
In terms of the slick and deck, a Surlyn slick and PE deck are highly recommended for experienced surfers. These will offer the surfer more control over the wave as well as greater flexibility.
You’re Ready to Buy a Board!
We know you’re feeling serious about buying that board – and we hope our helpful hints and bodyboard sizing chart have helped you feel more confident in seeking out your bodyboard.
Choosing the perfect combination of right size, type, style and design isn’t an easy task, especially if it’s your first time.
But the feel of the wave and the full-on thrill of riding will make the search worth it!
Rest assured, once you’ve answered the question “ do I need?’ and taken into consideration all of the factors we’ve discussed today, you’re well on your way!
Before leaving, here is an article on “How to Wax Bodyboard” I recommend you to read (https://fergalsmith.com/how-to-wax-a-bodyboard/)
About the Author Chet Thornberry
My name is Chet and I'm a surfer living in Cocoa Beach. I created this blog to put my experience with surfing, skimboarding, bodyboarding, and paddleboarding to good use (pretty much all things water sports).
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