What Surfing Can Learn From Bodyboarding - Stab Mag

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What Surfing Can Learn From Bodyboarding

This is serious. 

style // Jul 8, 2017
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Bodyboarding has, for as long as I can remember, influenced the broader surf community. Pre-social media, films like Tension cut through existing conflict between dick draggers and stand-ups. An honest portrayal of larrikinism, in jokes and a “fuck you” attitude gave bodyboarding the ability to cross-pollinate into stand-up society.

It’s been some time since a surf related account has arrested my scroll, but the heads behind @dragboardco certainly stopped my thumb. Maybe because they aren’t directly surf related. However, they’ve inspired me to tap keys–which, being Stab’s designer is a rarity. Anyway, back to it. The account boasts a myriad of posts, from serious south coast reefs to carpark hangs, slang shout outs to anti-political statements and if you’re not prudish, some key marketing collateral. See: Their Schapelle Corby “Mule” tee, which they sent to her along with a bodyboard care pack out of goodwill. 

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The Corby T. A bit of background: Schapelle Corby, in 2005, was convicted of smuggling a bit of grass into Indonesia. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. After some legal jargon, a mental illness claim and a five-year sentence reduction, in May, 2017, she returned home to Oz.

The majority of the team responsible for @dragboardco reside down on NSW’s South Coast, in Bellambi housing commission, the heart of Wollongong’s industrial hub. Harry Bryant calls it “the booging headquarters of the world”. 

Being in the age of social media, isolated zones can still reach the masses. Happycat the account kingpin needed a platform to share, as he told Stab, “The weird fucked up stuff dudes (boogers) put up on the interweb and an income to do so since the “BFC” (Bodyboarding Financial Crisis) hit.” You think the surf industry’s suffered? Well, when’s the last time you heard the term, “bodyboarding industry”?

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Drag hard with Harry Bryant.

Still, Drag have managed to survive down there, selling wetsuits, boogs and clothing to a loyal following of fellow draggers. Tyge Landa, who has filmed the likes of Kelly, John John, Bruce Irons, Dion Agius, Nate Tyler and Chippa Wilson understands how loyal bodyboarders are. “Surfing has typically been a lot more lucrative than bodyboarding, but some bodyboarders are as productive as surfers, if not more, and bodyboarding web clips usually get a higher hits, views wise. Bodyboarders are super loyal. I think surfers are too, but have a higher tendency to jump ship from crew to crew, or sponsor to sponsor.” It’s this loyalty that’s kept the Drag guys afloat.

Drag’s social media success isn’t just bodyboarder loyalty, it’s the ethos of the golden ratio. “When using irony on IG the ideal ratio is 35/65, if too greater percentage of your audience understand your intent the post itself cannot be great. If too few understand, the post is a lunatic. Given bodyboarding has roughly a 5/95 appeal, nailing the compound ratio to a general audience is an art that should only be attempted by those with a truly ironic appreciation for the drag.”

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Dragging clogs arteries.

Bodyboarder’s humour is authentic. Harry says, “The Drag boys have their own language, they speak in code. I’ve been studying it since moving to the South Coast.” Plenty of the slang created by draggers has been adopted by the surf community. 

Tyge has witnessed surfers and boogers come together first hand down in South Oz. “Bodyboarder Nick Gornall, a tattooed, freakishly technical air dude, not too dissimilar to Chippa would throw an eeeeee or an aaaaaa or an oooooo onto the end of someones name,” he tells us. “Kinda like a call to arms. This celebration was picked up by the likes of Dane Reynolds, Creed McTaggart, Beau Foster, Harry Bryant and Craig Anderson who grabbed it and took it from the water to a dusty tavern that night, 1000 clicks from anywhere.”

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Creed McTaggart, while injured, became a disciple of the boog.

Dave Fox, who films Craig Anderson, Creed, Dion and Harry has his own theory as to why the most successful surf cinematographers are bodyboarders. “Its always difficult to separate the act of sex from emotion,” says Dave. “As a dick dragger you’ve spent a lot of hours with your flesh python flapping in the hallway of mother nature’s vagina. Maybe you started out wanting to thrash the waves and tear them apart….but after a while you’ve unleashed a lot of strong feelings for her and it gets to a point where you become pussy whipped.“

There’s a major advantage to being a filmer when you’ve spent a lot of time riding a wave with your most vulnerable assets so exposed. You gain a lot more understanding of the nuances of her subtle movements and maybe thats an advantage positioning yourself in barrels.” It’s this type of thinking that has garnered respect from guys like Creed who believes boogers, “Make surfers look like pussies and that surfing has become way too serious.”

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Ando tackled 10-12 foot Kanduis on a 5’4 but we think he’d rather have had his sponge.

Dave Fox comments on the direction of surf culture, “Being accepted and celebrated by egg heads in the general public means you’re probably not doing it right. If you don’t feel like surfing as a sport has gone a little off track then sit down, crack a beer and watch that WSL dubstep ad.”

“(Surfers) need to lighten up a bit,” tacks on Creed. “We are just having fun.”

On the contrary, Dave does feel that, “Boogin’ is pretty cooked now and that kneeboarding and goat boating are the only truly core sports.”

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Mahalo you fucking surfers.

There’s a lot of money and legal obligations in the surf world these days, so you don’t see enough piss getting taken,” says Harry on the PG-Rated nature of today’s surf culture. “What the Drag guys are putting out is classic Australian humour and I enjoy basically anything that’s a piss take.” 

In the eyes of Drag, “Stab’s just a multinational, multimillion dollar conglomerate attempting to maintain an edge by ironically appreciating a minority.” Oh, aren’t we now?  

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