Watch: Drag’s Rip III, Aka the Death of Bodyboarding… Again.
Why so serious?
RIP (rest in pits) the original was supposed to signal the end of traditional bodyboarding as we know it, but it seems to have had the opposite effect.
The past year has seen surfing of all disciplines boom, including soft boarding of all varieties, and there’s no collective that showcases the multi-splendored possibilities of what’s possible on soft boards better than the Drag team. Which includes professional surfers Chippa Wilson, Craig Anderson, Dion Agius, Harry Bryant and others from time to time, but is anchored in core, somewhat disillusioned (in a playful way), bodyboarders.
The Drag movement came out of nowhere, aka the industrial estate just north of Wollongong, which is precisely nowhere in the grand scheme of things. ‘Maddog’, is the anonymous(ish) philosopher/entrepreneur behind it, and has a curious take on the surfing caper. It seems common among those who’ve grown up knifing heavy, slabbing tubes up and down particularly the east coast, particularly on the guts. There’s only so many critical 3 second tubes your central nervous system can experience before you start looking for something to spice up the sensation. Maddog’s been waging a low key, tongue in cheek war on “trad” (bodyboarding), actively encouraging team riders to ditch the boogs in favour of foamies both long and short.
“2020’s seen a real resurgence of mature age trad, which is sick,” says Maddog. “That’s the only acceptable form of trad: mature age or you’ve got to be a kid. You can’t be in your 20s and 30s, either got to be a kid or at a later stage in life surfing 2ft slabs or carrying it around.”
I point out that his team includes some of the best bodyboarders in the world, and Maddog corrects himself. “Yeah well the other rule is if it’s over 10ft, or your Dorf (certified lunatic Chris James). Or Garth Mcgregor, who’s a 120 kilo bear of a man wrestling shockies and shit, I back that.”
I can’t quite tell if Maddog’s ploy to end bodyboarding is genuine or a subversive attempt to sell more bodyboards, and he laughs when I ask the question saying “I wish”. It’s worth noting that Maddog used to be a notable bodyboarder, before he broke his back and picked up a camera and a twinnie.
Stab powers that be wanted me to talk to the pros who play bit parts in RIP 3, but I don’t think “went surfing, soft board, no hurt when fall, go surprisingly well, refreshing break etc.” would add much to the narrative. For me the appeal is in the core of the team, who all are/were “professional” bodyboarders, who dedicated their lives to their art, only to reach the pinnacle of an industry that was non-existent and end up on the building site.
But they continue to hunt remote slabs regardless because it’s in the blood. Which is the charm of it all. They’re also all incredible watermen and the perfect cast to push the limits on what are, in all honesty, pretty rudimentary pieces of equipment.
Highlights of RIP 3 include Wade Goodall and Ryan Sewell’s island orb fest (Sewelly text me saying he’d “literally seen 1000 tubes today” after), the kneelo (real name Chayne Simpson) who’s an incredible surfer however you define it, Dorf going silly at psycho big Chopes and Chippa – who it’s worth noting had three months on the foamies post recovering from a knee opp – just being Chippa. Which included two 360 shove its on a small piece of sponge with fins. And, Jordan Putland, aka Putty, who must be one of the best finless surfers on the planet, but occasionally sneaks out under the cover of darkness to ride a trad sponge at Snapper, which Maddog says is acceptable as long as it’s dark enough that no one can see you from the land.
Semi-unserious jokes about the death of bodyboarding aside, Drag continues to be a breath of fresh air in surf, and a serious player in tipping the scales towards making it all a little less serious, which is easy to get behind.
“Ah yeah trad was sick back in the day when we were growing up – going down the coast in hatchbacks when no one was around and throwing ourselves into slabs,” says Maddog. “But trad tried to get serious, and that’s what killed the trad.”
Heard it here first, take leisure activities seriously at your peril.
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