Press Release: The International Bodysurfing Association

The Formation of the International BodySurfing Association – IBSA.

The founders reviewing the Constitution.

On August 19, 2018, in Oceanside, California, six representatives of bodysurfing from their respective regions across the globe, signed a constitution forming the IBSA.

The constitution and also a universal judging criteria has been championed from the inception by France’s Patrice Grieumard, who is the President of the Bodysurfing Commission part of the French Federation of Surfing – FFS.

The six representatives were Patrice himself representing France and also the European Bodysurfing Association, Vince Askey and Steve Watts representing USA, Sean Enoka representing the Hawaiian Islands, Sakina Bargach representing Morocco (by previous correspondence) and Don McCredie representing Australia.

More representatives are expected to sign the IBSA Constitution for their respective countries or territories but this initial meeting has solidified the association of cross-continental and global bodysurfing. The focus of this organization it to: standardize judging criteria, create a main body for all bodysurfing events and contests, ensure that all groups can receive assistance and direction for insurance requirements and association registrations from a singular body and mainly to promote and represent the sport at higher levels.

The IBSA is a nonprofit association which will seek funding from individual governments by the way of grant applications and corporate sponsorship. The four founding members have a long history of bodysurfing contest organization, local club/event management and share a common passion for the sport and art known as bodysurfing. They are interested in seeing it progress forward, never backward. The founders hope to see to it that the youth are always exposed to bodysurfing as fun, healthy and inexpensive.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

R to L: Don McCredie- Australia, Sean Enoka- Hawaii, Vince Askey- USA, Patrice Grieumard- France, Steve Watts- USA

Throwback: A Week in Florida- March 2018


I work in Florida for a couple months each winter. Sometimes I’m conflicted. Florida provides an interesting place for new adventures and new ecosystems. Rocket launches at Cape Canaveral, The Everglades, Miami, gators, bald eagles and manatees, sometimes fun waves. However, winter waves are generally much better in San Diego than south Florida.

The winter surf of 2018 was historically dismal in Southern California. The winter surf of 2018 in Florida was possibly the greatest of all time. I had been in Florida for a few weeks prior. I usually go for a dawn swim a couple times a week regardless of the conditions. 40 minute drive to Juno Pier at 5am and make it to work at 10am. But I had been watching the surf forecast when a monster purple blob began to form.

Winter Storm Riley

Winter Storm Riley moved off the coast of Massachusetts on March 2nd and went through a period of explosive development known as bombogenesis. Unfortunately, wreaking havoc across New England and beyond.  On the morning of Sunday March 3rd, 1,200 miles south, I arrived at the Juno Pier at dawn. Nonstop waves were already breaking 100 yards past the end of the pier. The swell had definitely begun and wasn’t scheduled to peak for 2 days.

Juno Pier

This swell quickly became the most impressive I have experienced anywhere. Five days of overhead to double overhead waves without a lull. It was like a 5,000 wave set bombarded the coast. Most Florida surf spots were overpowered by the immense energy as the swell peaked but a few mythological spots lit up for a select few. Winds remained light and even went offshore for extended periods. 

I bodysurfed every morning and my employers were gracious enough to give me a day off to chase this incredible swell. I didn’t have to go too far. The closest beach to my hotel is a little nondescript beachbetween the Lake Worth Pier and West Palm Beach called Phipps Ocean Park. It was firing all week! Peaky lines of neon blue swell going below sea level and exploding on the sandbars. I also swam epic Delray Beach, pumping Jupiter Inlet and all-time, incredible Reef Road.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Intergalactic Whomparama: Carolina Beach, North Carolina

After moving to North Carolina from West Coast USA, Alex Torres was a lonely bodysurfer. When he got the time off work and family duties his favorite pastime would find him alienated amongst many beachgoers who had never seen anyone swim onto a wave and ride it to the shore spinning and getting tubed.

One day he found a couple of other guys who knew what to do when riding waves on their body he thought, “We should have a contest and give it a fun name, call it Whomparama and make it fundraiser for the local Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation and other charities” Such as Life Rolls On – a group that facilitates an assisted surf experience for people with disabilities. He thought, “Lets get the local community involved and have a lot of fun!”

Soon after the inception of Whomparama, somebody from California contacted Alex claiming to have sanction rights on all bodysurfing contests, particularly regarding rules. So Alex in his nonchalant manner suggested, “That’s ok, our contest doesn’t have any rules.”  That same antagonist then claimed authority over every contest in the world. So Alex said, “Thats ok, we’re not of this world…we’re intergalactic!”

Don in Carolina

That was seven years ago and since then, The Intergalactic Bodysurf Championships- Whomparama has attracted large numbers of local bodysurfers, lifeguards, surfers, bodyboarders and many local businesses for donations and support.

I was fortunate to attend this year and I witnessed every contestant and spectator having an immense amount of fun. Laughter filled the beach regardless of conditions which were not the greatest waves of all time. But that wasn’t the point. This contest is all about genuine beach fun and raising money for worthwhile causes.

The pre-contest work that goes into Whomparama is all volunteer based. The Carolina Beach community pitches in to provide everything from tents to colored caps for the competitors and t-shirt design/printing. The trophies are made by Alex and one of his buddies, Peyton Chitty. One year the trophies were over 6 feet high. This year they were donated leftovers from an old trophy factory and sprayed in Rastafarian colors. Each winner received a large trophy and along with it, a helmet with recycled trophy bits attached, spray painted and adorned with doll body parts.

Alex and Peyton wax lyrically on the microphone all day with banter akin to a comedy sketch, in between some great music from an eclectic playlist. Heats are called, locals are heckled and any surfboard that enters the Whomp zone better lookout! Divisions included of kids, women’s, men’s and the SUPER KOOK EXPRESSION SESSION for the uninhibited, which fought in the best spirit of fun.

The after party was held at the Lazy Pirate and nobody missed it. Music, fun, ceremony, live music and dancing. The waves remained half to one foot onshore tidally affected throughout but nobody cared. They raised $3,800 for their charities and everybody, I mean everybody, who went near the Whomparama had an absolute blast.
-Don McCredie

Chasing the Weasel

By Jason Hackworth- @SuperBiscuitSC

There’s a spot on the Westside that’s well known as being one of the last holdouts of true, old-school localism; the kind of place where if you’re not a Westsider, or friends with them, you probably shouldn’t be out there.  When it’s working, it’s one of the best tubes in town, and every local pro, ex-pro and general ripper will be on it, sitting amongst a small pack in a very compact takeoff zone.  Although it shows up in magazines and Surfline quite a bit, it’s never explicitly named in print, to my knowledge… one mag of note even did a feature on it in the 90’s, dubbing it “Weasel Reef”, so for the purposes of this story I’m going to go with that.

I found myself staring at it the other day, leaning against the wooden fence that acts as a railing on the edge of the cliff.  The direction was a bit off, it was smallish and kind of blowing sideshore. But it was definitely working.  And there was no one out.  No one else even watching it.

I had swam out there once before a few years ago, but when I got to the peak it shut off completely.  I found myself treading water for 20 minutes before giving up and heading home.  Now as I watched another set barrel messily over the reef, I found that I was a little nervous… it wasn’t so much that I wanted to go but I felt that I had to go.  Otherwise, I’d probably be kicking myself for the rest of my life.  I had just eaten a hamburger and was fairly hung over… so I wasn’t quite feeling one hundred percent.

Suiting up and grabbing the MiniMother and the UDT’s I had recently acquired in a trade, I started back toward the cliff.  A couple of cars away from mine was an oversized black SUV, with tinted black windows and various stickers.  I felt my UDT’s bump against something on the car, and there was a slight rattling sound.  I turned around as I walked, surmising that the fins must have bumped into the trailer hitch that was protruding from the back of the vehicle.  Seeing that there was no damage, I moved on.

“Hey yo!”  I heard a few seconds later.  Rounding the corner of the truck came a younger guy whose look kind of fit with his vehicle- oversized white shirt, baseball cap sitting too high on his head, white socks pulled up past the hems of his low hanging shorts, neck tattoos.  

“What the f###, you just hit my car and walk away?!?”  He said, raising his arms in the air in a threatening fashion.

“Sorry man, I think my fins accidentally bumped into your trailer hitch there.”

“So that’s what you do?  Just hit people’s  cars with your f###ing fins and just walk away?”

“It was an accident… sorry man.”

He huffed and puffed a little more, and then turned to get back into the truck, still muttering and cursing to himself.  How he thought that the Malaysian rubber UDT’s could have possibly damaged his steel trailer hitch I have no idea, but he was certainly angry about it.

The altercation had actually served to distract me from my nervousness, and I turned and continued toward the edge of the cliff.  Still nobody out.  I slowly picked my way down the steep rocks, eventually jumping off of the last one onto the sand.  Walking toward the other side of the cove, I picked my swim spot just south of where the peak was and walked in, gearing up with fins and camera once I had cleared the shorebreak.  I took my time swimming out to the peak; never having caught this place before when it was breaking, I wanted to get a feel for it and not take too many on the head.  I also found myself turning to scan the cliff from time to time, expecting to see people with boards coming down the rocks.

“Oh shoot… this place is super shallow!”  I had moved to tread water and I came across the rock shelf reef not 4 or 5 feet below the surface. Watching the gurgles and boils in front of the incoming set peaking just outside confirmed this.  Given my condition, I decided to err on the side of caution and remain just at the edge of the reef for the time being.

The first couple were too walled, so I swam over them.  The next one had a nice corner however and I began to swim in an arc a little deeper, getting into position.  The first drop was quick and bouncy from backwash off of the cliff and after riding for a couple of seconds the barrel threw over me and pinched shut. I swam under and through the back.  

On two more, I was able to pull in; I thought I was going to make it out of the first, but it pinched shut on my head and I got rolled for a bit.  The second was bigger, with a jacking, steep entry.  The MiniMother held its edge, as it always does.  This one had the crazy drop but less time in the tube as it closed out…my wave selection there had been a bit lacking.  My next was another steep drop to a long ride almost all the way in, but no barrel.

Resting at the peak for a bit, I saw the group of groms clambering down the rocks with shortboards.  Another set was approaching, and I swam for and caught the second wave, driving down the line until the end section closed out over me, leaving me again almost all the way in.  That was enough for me… I wasn’t in the mood to jockey for position with the groms, and decided to call it a day.  Back on the beach, I leaned against a rock and watched it for a while, soaking in the scene and in disbelief that I had just scored Weasel Reef to myself for a half an hour or so.

After negotiating the rock climb back up, I noticed that the black SUV was still there, this time with a familiar smelling smoke emanating from it.  I approached the open drivers side window and saw its occupant with sunglasses on now, and sporting a big smile.

“Hey man, just wanted to say sorry again about the trailer hitch thing.”

“Ah it’s cool” he grinned.  “I was up in Tahoe yesterday snowmobiling with my friends, and on the way back someone nailed the back of my car, you see that big dent there?  Anyway, I got back late, and missed my court hearing, so I guess I was just all pissed off about that.”

“Ah, yeah… well, that’s understandable.”

Back at my car, dressed, and wrapping my wetsuit in a towel, I see my new friend get out of his truck and start walking towards me.  As he gets close, he holds out an unopened can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

“A little beverage, bro?  Always good after the salt water and a boogie session.”

Still a little hung over (and slightly confused about the boogie comment) I hesitate for a second, then find myself reaching for the can.  “Uh… for sure, man.  Thanks!”

“Have a good one!” he says, returning to his truck.

The Pabst is kind of warm… but as I lean on the hood of my car sipping it, taking in the view of West Cliff Drive and the passing pedestrians, I figure it’s a pretty fitting way to wrap up an afternoon of chasing Weasels.


With My Son

I still dream.

Empty, aching bends of coastline

Emerald water pulsing

and every set as perfect as the last.

But in my waking hours

a different vision has revealed.

I trim his nails

and sing him to sleep.

All of 30 inches

And full of dancing,

My new dream will grow

With sand tween his toes

And salty air filling his small lungs.



The Fin Rail

rāl: a bar or series of bars, typically fixed on upright supports, serving as part of a fence or barrier or used to hang things on.

There are only so many ways to design swim fins. Our physiology dictates the efficient mode of swimming and good swim fins slap a couple inches of rubber to the end of your toes to increase the thrust. There are a few primary variables swim fin designers manipulate to arrive at their final design. The two main factors at work are flex and length, however throughout the almost a century of innovation, fins have developed unique rail attributes worthy of thoughtful deliberation.

At the genesis of modern fin design, Owen P. Churchill molded a pair of fins in imitation of a dolphin’s tail. Much like the dolphin tail, Churchill Swim Fins were smooth and lacked hard lines of geometry. His design provided the first step to increasing human swim propulsion.

Dolphin Tail- Original Churchill Overlay Original Photo: Leanne Smale
Dolphin Tail- Original Churchill Overlay
Original Dolphin Photo: Leanne Smale

Churchill set the stage for the modern swim fin, but decades later Arthur Brown designed a fin which took advantage of stiff rails to provide a much more powerful fin. Brown realized strong rails could provide power both by stiffening the flex of the fin and by creating channels for water to flow through. Bodysurfers were also excited to feel the ability to use their fins’ rails to hold their line on the face of a wave.

Early Duck Feet Advertisement detailing the advantages of rails
Early Duck Feet Advertisement detailing the advantages of rails

Brown’s improvements were not unnoticed and Duck Feet were eventually adopted in lieu of Churchills by the Navy Underwater Demolition Teams. The “ribs” provided a structure to hold the fin in a stiffer position while swimming. If you imagine swimming kicks as “pushing off” the water around the foot, then a stiffer fin provides a firmer push off. The not so obvious improvement was made in channeling the water in a direction more beneficial to the swimmer’s movement. Imagine that same kick in a fin that pushes the water in all directions. The “push” a swimmer receives will give them general motion in the opposite direction of their kick. When Brown added the strong rails and the middle rib, it directed the water off the back of the fin and in turn created specific motion in the opposite direction of the kick.

For a long time bodysurfers had to choose between Churchills and Duck Feet, but in the last fourty years there have been many innovators with different takes on the fin rail. Fred Simpsons original Viper Surfing Fins had a heavy focus on rails. With the distinct double sided rails, Vipers looked a bit different than its predecessors. The second generation and more recognizable fins, lost the bottom rail. Viper’s rails are notable for their 90 degree edge and deep contour. No open-heeled fin before it had taken such an aggressive line. There are other notable rail adjustments. The DaFin design includes a wide and stiff rail that ends half-way down the blade. The Leblon Fin designer has separated the rail from the foot pocket to increase responsiveness of the rail to water flow. 

Bodysurfing fin designers will continue to tinker with dimensions and rubbers seeking the ultimate balance of form and function. And we will continue to document and enjoy the benefits.