The most resounding criticism of modern bodysurfing contests is the inability to hold the event with pumping surf. Many contests have very short windows and some have no window at all, scheduling the contest on the same weekend each year. Spectators wanna see bodysurfers come screaming out of head high barrels and do Rollos of the lip, but in knee to chest surf bodysurfers are forced to resort to the tried and true Spin. It has become so predictable as to have created the phrase, “Spin to Win.”
There are several variations on the spin, but the most used version has the rider turning their forward shoulder toward the face of the wave. This is technically easier to complete because the rider uses the wave’s energy to turn their body. It requires less deliberate action from the rider to complete. Competitors should be wary of just spinning to spin, because a spin is only as good as your execution. Judges are looking for spins to utilize the energy of the wave and be a part of an overall ride.
The standard spin can be executed in a number of ways. One way is to let your forward hand slide up the wave and dip your opposite shoulder and arm, fall onto your back and let the water turn your body the rest of the spin. Some riders utilize their hands as rudders to control the speed and others focus their energies completely on their core and leg maneuvering. Up and coming progressive rider Kanealii suggests “It’s kinda like watching figure skaters spin in one spot. To spin faster you have to tuck your arms closer to your body. That’s why guys like Kai Santos spin so smooth, super tight spins.”
Spin purist and long-time WBC judge, Dan Williams let us into the mind of a bodysurfing contest judge. He is watching for, “the spin being utilized to make the most of the wave being rode and a signifier of the overall skill-set of the rider…if a rider throws a spinner to adjust their position in the wave for a better ride it scores higher than spinners thrown in the white water. Basically I’ve always judged spinners as an indication of the riders wave knowledge. As a past judge, if you throw a spinner off the top into a section, throw one to perfectly slot yourself, can be graceful enough to slow spin an/or snap spin to compliment the wave being ridden you will be rewarded with a high score. if the rider simply throws spinners to throw spinners it’s usually pretty obvious, they are not penalized but they most likely will not garner those extra points that a rider who really utilizes a spin to maximize the wave at hand.”
With summer contest season coming to a peak, it’s time to get out there and throw your body around in the waves. The key to progressing on any given trick is to practice and experiment. There is no substitute for trial and error. You get to have a good time and your buddies get to laugh at you getting tossed. To get it right, get it tight.