Bodysurfing contests are unique among the water bound. With no board space for advertising and virtually no equipment to construct franchises around, bodysurfers who compete exist in an emerging space. While bodysurfing contests are not new, the number of expression sessions and bodysurfing competitions is growing by the year. We decided to reach out across the spectrum of torpedo people to get their 2 cents on the value of bodysurfing competitions.
Additional Info: 2011 Point Panic Champion
“Bodysurfing Contests are an integral part of Hawaiian bodysurfing. For specific spots, it’s just an excuse to surf an iconic break with a very small number of friends, etc. Take Pipeline, how else are we going to get the lineup to ourselves?
It’s also a chance for us to all come together and compete and push the sport. I just love to sit and watch what everyone is doing and all of the different tricks or styles that are on display.
Unfortunately there are some negative vibes during events when someone feels slightly by not receiving a particular score or when not placing at the top of the scores. I think that a definite area of improvement on contests is to upgrade the scoring/judging process, but typically these events and judges are basically volunteering their time, etc.
For me personally, I am trying to be the best bodysurfer that I can be, so when I compete it’s with passion and purpose to improve and do well at what i love to do. And I just love to “battle”, but sometimes there are others who take the competition in a different direction to “win at all costs”. I’ve seen people jockey for position, swim through people water polo style which can lead to arguments, etc. But for me, the competitions about what you can do ON THE WAVE, and not how you can out position someone else and so on.”
Location: Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Additional Info: Creator of courses in self-development through bodysurfing
“I think the future of bodysurfing is not on contest basis. Contests are good, and I like it a lot. But I feel that bodysurfing is more powerful as a “dynamic meditation”, as a process for self-development in interaction with nature…. So the future… I feel it is all about big celebration meetings, exhibition sessions, courses for adults and teens, videos, pictures, art, poetry!”
Location: Irvine, California
Additional Info: Wedge Crew Member, Pipeline Bodysurfing Contest Finalist
“I have mixed feelings regarding bodysurfing contests. On one hand, I think they are fantastic. A collection of talent all in one place to showcase their style of riding and being judged by their peers, who should be accomplished bodysurfers themselves. The downside is this, they aren’t usually judged properly. A rider should be penalized for not using their hands, they should not be rewarded for flailing and ruining a wave, they should not be rewarded for blowing a ‘makeable’ barrel. They should not be rewarded for being slow, and just getting length of ride by going straight. The purpose of contests is to bring everyone to another level.
I think a great example of current bodysurfing contests is in the movie Dog Town Zboyz (the drama, not the documentary). they go down to SD and their style isn’t judged on their progressiveness. I think contest judges need to have meetings on what ISN’T going to be scored high. Like long rides where the rider cannot maintain control, their hands constantly pearl, etc. I’m adamant on this as if we are to progress as riders, we need to up the game – globally.”
Pierce Michael Kavanagh
Location: La Jolla, California
Additional Info: Director/Cinematographer for the upcoming film What the Sea Gives Me, Spreader of Stoke
“I think competing is cool in good waves for others but I would rather cruise.”
Thomas Van Melum
Location: Newport Beach
Additional Info: Pipeline Bodysurfing Contest Finalist, Member of Team Blacksheep, Wompton Runner-Up
“Competitions are important to showcase prowess and expertise. You know why people don’t like competitions? They don’t want to stand up and be vulnerable, be measured, be exposed for what they really are. And besides, how else are we going to be able to prove that Team Blacksheep and The Wedge Crew are at the top of the bodysurfing game?!?
Lastly, good competitions give students of the sport an opportunity to see the best going head to head. Shit, they might do something they’ve never done before, and we could all learn from it. Ok one more thing, how else are you going to meet Marc Cunningham and eat lunch with him?”
Location: Hossegor, France
Additional Info: World Bodysurfing Championships Champion, Pipeline Bodysurf Classic Runner-Up, Waimea Slam ’11 and ’12 Champion
“I think on one hand, contests are good because they bring a lot of bodysurfers together at the same time. It s a good place to learn, to see what the other are able to do. It also bring medias around our sport. It’ s pushhing the sport. On the other hand, I feel like I am never really happy after a contest.
In France there is always something witch sucks. One day the waves will be really bad, the other day the judges won’t even know how to judge bodysurf, another day the guy in charge of bodysurfing will do his own things and personal choices and forget about everybody else. Contests are good if you do it for fun and don’t expect anything at the end of the day… I have no problem with losing when the other are better, or when you haven been good. But I really hate it when it is not fair! I would love to see one day a real World Bodysurfing Tour. 2 or 3 contests held on real world class bodysurfing waves, with good judges, and the best bodysurfers in the water!”