The World’s Five Best Waves For Bodysurfing
Story by Elliot Struck Keith Malloy ran with Momentum crew and tail-slid his way into the hearts of Taylor Steele’s audience. Then he grew a beard and kinda disappeared to surf ice waves and wrestle bears and be all the right kinds of manly. The latest progression of his continuing togetherness with nature is a love […]
Story by Elliot Struck
Keith Malloy ran with Momentum crew and tail-slid his way into the hearts of Taylor Steele’s audience. Then he grew a beard and kinda disappeared to surf ice waves and wrestle bears and be all the right kinds of manly. The latest progression of his continuing togetherness with nature is a love of bodysurfing. It’s an odd kink and once you peel back the layers of the scene (yup, there’s a bodysurfing scene), you’ll find a charmingly-quirky world with some surprisingly radical and brave players. So much so, that Keith was compelled to create a film about the art of bodysurfing and the characters it attracts: Come Hell Or high Water. Part-documentary, part-underwater scenery porn, one viewing will awake an urge that you didn’t even know you had. The film’s also complimented by a book called Plight Of The Torpedo People, which is equally perfect for admiration and coffee tables.
Anywhere coastal that’s peppered by waves, there’s gonna be pockets of those who’d rather ride ’em with limited equipment (swim fins, occasional handplanes and, depending on your tastes, minimal lycra). But just like surfing, there’s waves that are not so good for bodysurfing, and waves that are perfect for bodysurfing. Here, Keith takes us through his pick of the latter…
By the way, you can (and should) buy the book and the film, right over here.
1. Teahupoo, Tahiti: I would say Teahupoo is kinda the Jaws of bodysurfing. There’s lots of slabs that are similar to Teahupoo, but I don’t think anything compares. I’d say that’s the heaviest spot. It’s epic, but there’s fear factor there. I would put it as number one, really, just because it’s the most impressive out of every big slab. And it is perfectly suited for bodysurfing. At a certain point it’d be too big, I think, but maybe Mike Stewart could do it. Mike could get into some big ones, but you’d have to be way out on the shoulder just trying to get in and out of it before it swallowed you. Still though, Teahupoo’s suited for bodysurfing ’cause it’s a big wedgy wave with a big shoulder, whereas somewhere like Cloudbreak is fun, but you’re gonna get caught behind. I’ve had great bodysurfs at Cloudbreak but it’s way more of a down-the-line wave so it’s not the perfect setup for bodysurfing. You’d have to find one to make at Cloudbreak, but Chopes is a big, concentrated bowl and you can takeoff on the bowl.
2. The Wedge, California, US: What makes the Wedge so good for bodysurfing is that it’s just so big and powerful, and it really does take a wedgy wave to bodysurf properly. It’s way more interesting to bodysurf a huge wedge than a mushy pointbreak. I mean, a mushy pointbreak can be fun, but you’ll need a Pipe-O board or nice big handplane or something to help you out. An interesting thing about the Wedge is, it’s this huge powerful wave, perfect for bodysurfing, although it usually closes out, but the Wedge guys, their theory on it, they call the closeout the “Pay-off.” Because realistically, it’s a big closeout. But it’s got that crazy A-Frame where you can take off and get a really great ride, and it’s so photogenic. It’s heavy. It really takes a south swell in California and doubles its size, thickness, everything. It really picks up a lot of swell and accentuates it. The nice thing about the Wedge is that it’s a huge, Pipeline type wave but it’s on the sand bottom that makes you feel a little safer.
The looming spectre of detonation at The Wedge. Scary as hell for some, a real good time for others. Keith included. Photo: Brent Jacobson
3. Point Panic, Hawaii: It’s actually an amazing wave ’cause it’s got the perfect amount of power and steepness to it, and it’s also the perfect speed for bodysurfing where it’s not too fast or too slow. You can really just stay in the pocket and get a really long barrel or pocket ride. It’s definitely made for bodysurfing, it’s just got the perfect push. It’s makeable and the way it bends at you is perfect. And it’s more on a normal person’s level, it’s not just gonna kill you. The Wedge is more of a rush, it’s just balls to the wall. You can go out there at point Panic when it’s three foot and just have a blast. And, it’s all bodysurfing, which is nice. There’s no surfers in the lineup. I would say that just to have a good, fun bodysurfing session, that might be my favourite wave.
4. Macaronis, Indonesia: I’ll be honest, a wave like Macaronis would be one of the best. I’ve bodysurfed some waves in Indo but I haven’t done it there yet. The thing is, it’s too crowded now, but you could definitely get some leftovers there. Macaronis would probably be one of the most amazing bodysurf waves ever, ’cause it’s really hollow, but it has a shoulder so you could slot yourself in. You want a really defined reef where it breaks in the same spot and has a clear shoulder. That’s prime. You know how out there you basically backdoor one section, then you’ve got this crazy shoulder to rip? That shoulder would allow a bodysurfer to make it out of a barrel and keep going. And it’s real defined, and really powerful. A wave like that’s perfect.
5. Puerto Escondido, Mexico: Puerto would be so rad. I mean, any big, gnarly beachbreak like that is really fun. If it’s too much of a down-the-line wave, you can’t make it bodysurfing. So, it’s important that it’s got that A-frame shape to it. That’s one thing to keep in mind if you’re looking for a good bodysurfing wave: It really needs that kinda A-frame shape. I would say maybe number five is any powerful beachbreak that has a good wedge on it. Even if you’re not making every wave. I think that’s part of the thing about bodysurfing, you can take off on a beast and just get eaten and still have the biggest smile ever. That’s why the Wedge guys have a point, because getting beatings is part of bodysurfing too. That’s kinda like when you’re a grom and you’ll jump into anything on a shorebreak. It feels good to take a beating and survive it, all covered in sand. I mean, you don’t always wanna be doing that… But being out there with friends, pulling into barrels and looking at each other, it’s definitely a great part of the whole deal.
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