a. Glassy: Amar Thejas
b. Competitive Swimming and Bodysurfing
c. Surf de Peito and Itacoa Legends 2016
d. Spin to Win
e. Ode to Night
a. Glassy: Amar Thejas
b. Competitive Swimming and Bodysurfing
c. Surf de Peito and Itacoa Legends 2016
d. Spin to Win
e. Ode to Night
Not sure who it is, this guy caught this one wave all the way to the Beach Park. Shot at Pipeline. Sure he was stoked.
Larry Russo is a legend. He’s always smiling. Larry pulled out this cap from his car he said it was Team Hawaii bodysurfing hat back in 97. He was stoked that day, we scored good Pipeline.
I shot this photo of Todd at Pipe on a crazy day. Only a few people were out there. The conditions were dangerous, strong currents and everyone was getting sucked over to Off the Wall. We saw this set coming and I remember yelling at Todd “Gooooo!” That was an easy 8ft Pipeline set. After this wave, Todd came over to me and told me that he ate shit mid-wave and had the best, worst beating of his life and took the next 2 waves on the head. Pipeline is no joke.
Todd is one of the elite watermen. He’s always out at huge Pipe and Rockpiles. I have always looked up to him. I do beach workouts with him every Friday, that guy has so much endurance and he’s a world-class swimmer. I shot this photo after he got second at the lifeguard bodysurf contest. He’s very comfortable in the ocean.
Point Panics is my favorite wave on the South Shore. I try to go bodysurf more during the summer. That’s Kaleo dropping into a fun one from the outside, he knows that wave like the back of his hand. Make sure you don’t drop in on him and bring no surfboards when you come down to Point Panics.
Kaleo is a wave magnet. This guy is all about bodysurfing and good times. I love taking pictures of him. Kaleo always makes sure the boys get enough waves and let you catch some waves all the time. Uncle takes care. I shot this after we had a fun session at Pipeline. There was about 50 people in the water that day. We got out of the water and I shot this photo of him. Shot this on black and white film.
Point Panics. This was shot on the biggest swell of the year at Point Panics last year, not sure who he is.
This was late season this past winter. I saw Uncle Mark bodysurfing Gas Chambers and riding all the way to Pipe. I saw him get out of the water and asked him about his session. He was stoked. There wasn’t many people in the water that day and snapped a few photos of him.
When Pipe is super crowded Pupukea sandbar is perfect with only a few people, it’s a really fun wave.
With the Summer Olympics upon us, we are reminded of the highest levels of human athleticism. Swimming is an event closely related to all bodysurfers. At an Olympic level, swimming is an incredible display of technical aptitude, endurance and will. Many talented bodysurfers have experience as competitive swimmers.
Maybe it is because they are comfortable swimming in chilly water at 5 in the morning. Maybe it’s their comfort level in a speedo. It is definitely their ability to move through the water in the most efficient way possible. If much of bodysurfing is first swimming to the best spot on a wave, competitive swimmers have an immediate advantage. Bodysurfers without technical swim training sometimes appear to fight the water instead of gliding through it. It is no guarantee that a swimmer has the Ocean sense to find the right takeoff spot. But once they acquire that knowledge, swimmers are all solid to excellent bodysurfers.
There are prominent examples of world-class swimmers translating their water skills to bodysurfing. The father of modern waveriding, Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku, won 5 Olympic medals including 3 gold. After his Olympic career, Duke traveled the world performing swim exhibitions and is credited with introducing board surfing to the United States and Australia.
Aaron Peirsol of Irvine, California is a seven time Olympic medalist including 5 gold medals. Peirsol is considered the greatest backstroke swimmer of all-time. He retired from competition in 2011 and began bodysurfing the Wedge in Newport Beach. Peirsol quickly made an underground name for himself with unmatched skill in the water. He is now an ambassador for the Surfrider Foundation and bodysurfs frequently.
The most comparable swimming event to bodysurfing is the 50m freestyle. Freestyle swimming is defined with the fewest regulations, meaning the competitor is free to choose their stroke. The stroke that is most universally chosen is the front crawl. Also known as the Australian crawl or with kick modifications, the American crawl. This stroke involve alternating arms, up and out of the water and then pulling through the water. We use this frequently as bodysurfers, although our head is usually out of the water scanning with our eyes to find the spot. Conditions change, waves move unpredictably so swim speed is important for maximizing each wave.
Swim endurance is also an important factor. Long sessions in heavy surf are exhausting. Bodysurfers that spend hours in the pool or distance swimming in the Ocean are better suited to swimming through strong currents for long periods of time.
The ability to see a wave approaching and maneuvering quickly to the right spot is fundamental in bodysurfing. The Olympic record in the 50m freestyle is 21.30 seconds set by Brazilian Cesar Cielo in Beijing 2008. I do not know about Cesar’s wave knowledge (although he is from São Paulo), he could certainly get “to the spot” with speed and efficiency.
Australian swimmer and bodysurfer, Tom Marr, grew up learning the finer details of swimming from his swim coach father. Tom says, “I highly recommend that all bodysurfers should do some form of pool swimming at least once a week to maintain aerobic endurance in the water. It will not only enable a better swimming technique but also provide increased power in the water that comes from doing laps in the pool.”
By Tom Ekman
(Photos by author unless otherwise credited)
Are there still surfers in 2016 who will actually welcome you to their break? Yes…at least in this beautiful corner of Brazil known as ITACOATIARA (ita-ko-ah-CHARA). Five nations coming together and crushing it in massive, concussive waves?
It felt more like an epic family gathering than a competition. The “Fish Man”, who stars in his own bodysurfing TV series (and is credited with blowing up the sport in Rio) was just one of the crew. Every bodysurfer would come up and say ola!, which meant a black-slap and aloha shake with 80 of your newest buddies. No one’s in this for money, power or chicks. We just love to bodysurf.
There was a running joke about the wave size at the comp. Mark Drewelow from San Diego and I called it 14-foot face on a couple of bomber sets. But to Brazilians, it’s never bigger than 4 feet. On Facebook, I protested “one meter, my ass!!”, and all the Brazilians chimed in with “one small meter”, etc. etc.
Itacoa is hard to compare to any other wave. It’s one-part Dominical, one-part Waimea shorebreak, and one-part Baker Beach. And Itacoa actually gets better with size, because the greater amount of water makes the wave break slightly farther out (emphasis on the word “slightly”, because there is really no outer bar). Smooth granite flanks on both sides drop into the water at about a 30-degree pitch, creating a cove effect that focuses the wave energy. (The sides can also refract backwash at the incoming waves). On top of that, the coast around Rio sees mostly short interval swells from nearby storms, which means virtually no lulls. It’s always stacked, and it’s always unloading.
95% of Itacoa waves are shut-downs. Over a week or so, I only saw a handful of bodysurfers make pull-out barrels. Most waves feature a split-second of trimming, followed by a throaty barrel and Homeric thrashing. (Most guys eschew handplanes because they stall the drop too long…and no one wants to get pitched at Itacoa!). Once in awhile a bodysurfer gets a longer ride, but usually on backed-off, inside stuff. The average ride is 3 seconds: Drop, tuck, and suck. Itacoa is all about one instant of whomping glory, but with a lip as thick as Pipe, that can be the moment of a lifetime.
The California Coup
Mark Drewelow, a 53-year-old from San Diego, impressed every one when he showed up sight-unseen at Itacoa the day before the comp (he was out at first light in near-storm conditions), and then placed an impressive 4th in the event. Judge Vinicius Dobis attributed Mark’s success to experience, good wave choice, and overall endurance. Mark started surfing SoCal spots like the Wedge in the ‘70s. Before his heat, we watched as a dog jumped into the edge of the water and was instantly carried sideshore by a river of water moving at a fast jog. “Look at how that water is moving,” Mark commented. “I’ve never seen water move like that.”
Thiago Maciel is one of the de facto ambassadors of Itacoa/Rio bodysurfing. Thiago’s always joking around with the crew, and always knows exactly what’s going on at any given moment – where it’s breaking, and who’s on it. A serious biologist and a stand-out bodysurfer, Thiago is The Man.
The competition was based on the ASP rating system, which scores competitors based on their two best waves. Marcelo Zampieri scored a perfect 10 in the first round with a clean, deep barrel. Kalani Lattanzi and Yuri both pulled high-scoring 360s in their heats. Kalani made an attempt to replicate Kane Tsunameh’s (O`ahu) impressive front flip, but didn’t pull the trick. In the end it was Yuri Martins who took down the top spot despite the serious competition.
Hats off to Lucas Castro from Whooze for putting together such a bang-up event. Lucas totally killed it! Big ups to the Rio scene O.G.’s: Paulo Pereira, JC Rodrigues and Vinicius Dobis. And a heartfelt muito obrigado to all of the Surfe de Peito crew for all of the good times in and out of the water!
If you go to Rio, please consider bringing some fins for the local guys. Because of import tariffs, a pair of fins can cost $150 in Brazil. (Trust me: they will really appreciate it. Note the stitched-together fins below.)
Check out more videos from Pervaleo HERE
Go to the Whooze website for more information on past and future events.
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.
The Night Womp
Bring some friends,
Hoot and holler!
Three cheers for the Ocean.
Calm wind. Sheet glass conditions.
High tide pulls clean waves along the shore.
Sure, you can think about the creatures.
But its ok, nothing is out to get you.
Run and dive in.
Let senses explode!
Waves feels faster,
Even a few feet bigger.
Nowhere is darker than under a wave at night.
The stark quiet of water and sand.
Out of the darkness; glistening, moving water.
The inside of the barrel,
Glowing in LunaLight.