The First Mākaha Bodysurfing Classic

The following article was written by Hawaiian Kā’eo Awana. The photographs were captured by local photographer Philip Kitamura. Thanks to Sean Enoka and the boys for their collaboration.


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Mākaha beach bared 5-6’ waves (Hawaiian scale), or 10-12ʻ faces on the day of the Mākaha Bodysurfing Classic. The waves broke from the outside point and marched into the backwash infested shorebreak. The expressions on each competitor varied from pale intimidation to ragged anticipation to anywhere in between. During check-ins, two ski’s were launched from the north end of the bay. Jet skis are a typical supplement for Mākaha lifeguards, except these weren’t lifeguard skis. To much of everyone’s excitement, the Hawaiian Water Patrol was present to ensure everyone safety. Furthermore, they would be providing assistance during heats to get competitors zoomed back out the point after catching waves. This was a pivotal moment for bodysurfing in Hawaiʻi. An average Saturday morning at Mākaha has 50+ people at the lineup with every type of surf craft under the sun. Competitors were not only able to bodysurf Mākaha at 6’ with 5 other people, but also with jet-ski assist. How can you put a price tag on this experience? With the sun peaking above the Waiʻanae mountain range, the air was buzzing with excitement.

The best in the business - Hawaiian Water Patrol gearing up for the day
The best in the business – Hawaiian Water Patrol gearing up for the day

Paipo Division- Paipo boards are typically wooden boards that take on various shapes and sizes, and have no leash. The word paipo derives from the traditional name of papa paepoʻo, which loosely translates to “board to catch waves head first.” Traditional papa paepoʻo riding looks more like bodysurfing than bodyboarding.

Final Results:

  1. Duane Desoto
  2. Ben Severson
  3. Matt Solomon
  4. Sean Enoka
  5. Wareen Hoʻohuli
  6. Makani Christiansen

 

Mens Open Handboard – Handboard divisions required some type of handboard device. Handboard types ranged from daughter’s slippers to Kaha Nalu Bulaboards.

Handboard Final Results:

  1. Mark Cunningham
  2. Kaleo Garlasa
  3. Thoman VanMelum
  4. Kealiʻi Punley
  5. Don King
  6. Greg Hense

Women’s Open Handboard

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Women’s Open Handboard Results:

  1. Sonja Du Plessis
  2. Pua Nawi
  3. Nalu Puʻu
  4. Maria Remos
  5. Kyla Lozis
  6. Carla Lewis
  7. Makenzie Arita
  8. Kehau Kim

Tandem Bodysurfing – The tandem division required two partners to be riding a wave at the same time to be judged.

Don King and Mark Cunningham
Don King and Mark Cunningham

Tandem Final Results:

  1. Mark Cunningham & Don King
  2. Duane Desoto & Keanuenue Desoto
  3. Kanealiʻi Wilcox & Kāʻeo Awana
  4. Kanekoa Crabbe &  Kanealiʻi Barrack
  5. Makani Christenson & Hiram Pukahi
  6. Matt Solomon & Sonja Du Plessis
  7. Joel Badina & Kalani Lattanci
  8. Kai Santos & Henrique Postilli

Womens Open

Women’s Final Results:

  1. Jonja Du Plessis
  2. Kim Kehaulani
  3. Carla Lewis
  4. Makenzie Arita
  5. Chelsie Henry
  6. Chris Ann Severson

Mens 50 & over

  1. Mark Cunningham
  2. Don King
  3. Ben Severson
  4. Walter Rodby
  5. Jon Parrish
  6. Chris Gardner
  7. Mike Worper
  8. Pete Rea

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Mens 41-49

  1. Greg Hense
  2. Harley Holt
  3. Peter Westbrook
  4. Josh Marvit
  5. Brian Kanealiʻi
  6. Allen Buchanan
  7. Eric Wahilani
  8. Aaron Kim
  9. Pat Bryon

IMG_3079Men’s 31-40 Resutls:

  1. Matt Solomon
  2. Kanekoa Crabbe
  3. Sean Enoka
  4. Kehau Kukawi
  5. Lohiau Cofran
  6. Nick Youngleson

 

Mens 21-30

 

Results:

  1. Kanealiʻi Wilcox
  2. Joel Badina
  3. Kāʻeo Awana
  4. Kyle Mensching
  5. Malii Laigo
  6. Dylan Smith

 

Mens 20 & under

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Finalists
Kealiʻi Punley
Kealiʻi Punley

20 and under Restults:

  1. Kealiʻi Punley
  2. Taylor Char
  3. Nao
  4. Pono Garlasa
  5. Josh Abilla

People who do not bodysurf often ask what the prizes are for winning a bodysurfing contest in Hawaiʻi. They expect to hear of lavish prizes, brand sponsorships, and cash that are commonly associated with the surfing industry. Most are shocked to hear that a trophy, fins, and clothing gear are typical bodysurfing contest prizes. To Hawaiʻi bodysurfers, contests serve as platform to gather bodysurfers to share the stoke of waveriding together rather than glory, fame, and riches. At these contests bodysurfers are able to reacquaint themselves with their friends, families, and meet fellow torpedo people from around the world. This is the ultimate prize of the contest; everything else is an added bonus. Contests naturally reveal winners and losers, but that is lost in the aloha that bodysurfers share with each other in Hawaiʻi bodysurfing contests. The first annual Mākaha Bodysurfing Classic was a success and raised the bar for bodysurfing contests.

 

Perspectives: Hurricane Marie at Wedge

Category 4 Hurricane Marie Photo: NASA
Category 4 Hurricane Marie           Photo: NASA

 

August 27, 2014.

IMG_0547Hurricane Marie.
Wedge.
These are perspectives from some of the bodysurfers
who swam out that day.

 

Matt Larson

IMG_0658Hurricane Marie is one of those rare occurrences where the hype, hope, expectation, and execution all came together. I watched the forecasts and was doubtful of the hype. The storm moved fast at 14-16kts and pretty westerly at that.  That being said, I still cleared my schedule from Tuesday on and hoped for the best. I got to the Wedge Tuesday around noon and saw fun 6-8′ surf, nothing epic but it was only Tuesday.

I swam out a little past noon on Tuesday hoping to get a few waves and loosen up in the water…after doing my own physical preparation regimen at home before hand.  The swell was clearly pleased with my arrival and immediately threw out a solid 10-12′ set and followed it with one in the 12-15′ range. Then another even bigger set broke as a “hurricane style freight train”. By 2pm Tuesday it was on and any doubts had been squashed! I rode solid hurricane Wedge with my oldest son, his buddy Jordon, and one other bodysurfer for 3 hours!

Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning became an exercise in–stay calm–conserve energy(after already surfing my ass off all day)–and be ready!  This became more challenging as my phone began to blow up with calls and texts from 10 different buddies and my brother, who would soon be boarding an airplane for Oregon for the week.  With my wife out of town for a couple days to attend a funeral the responsibility to care for our four children was my last “real life” hurdle to attend to before heading to the W for the day.  So armed with an entire loaf of pb & js, snacks, and gallons of water, we hit the road to Wedge…and so did the rest of Southern California!!

I used all the back alley tricks I know to reach 12th street by 9:30 but that’s where we came to a roaring halt! 11th St. 9:45, 10th 10:05… 9th at 10:30 and I was losing my mind! Calm was dead and gone! We need to be at Wedge now!  Finally we made it where a back alley opens up, the location of which I will keep a secret, and hauled ass all the way to C street through the back door, and re-entered the mayhem without delay with the help of crossing pedestrian. We scored a parking spot on Miramar directly in front of the Piani residence and were back on track and back in my realm.

The surf met a very lofty expectation. Wedge that day was one of the best solid size days in recent memory.  What really made it special was witnessing an entire generation of upcoming Wedge Crew riders earn their stripes. Also, its always great to ride solid, clean, and consistent Wedge with a core group of riders with which I have had the privilege to do so for the last 3+decades.  It was a rare day where everyone’s stoke tank was overflowing and the day passed without any significant conflict or injury–a rarity at Wedge unfortunately.

Hurricane Marie was definitely one for the ages and I look forward to meeting her sister 🙂

 

Chuck Olson

Chuck
Photo: Hank Haldeman

My first thought on big Wedge swells is… will it be clean? I don’t care how big it is, if it’s not rideable, I’m going back to bed! The crowd always brings another level of energy…something you feel immediately. Parting the crowd to get to the berm’s edge is always a trip…people’s first reaction seems to be one of annoyance when you ask them to get through. They think you’re going to cut in front of them for a front row seat to the mayhem. When they see you are about to enter the water you can almost feel the attitude change to, “Oh, it’s one of those crazy fools about to die.”

On days like the one we just went through, one of your first “warm-up” waves may be a 15’+ closeout peak…so warming up comes quickly so you have to be focused from the start. On these days, the real warming up takes place on the beach.

It was a great showing by all of the Crew! Nice to see the youngest guys maintaining the Wedge Crew bravado. I won’t rate this swell compared to others, you can’t. Too many factors which dictate a good vs. great swell to consider…but it was big and clean! A little bigger is always better! 😉

Sean Starky
For big Wedge swells, I usually sike myself out and tell myself it’s going to be a lot smaller than forecasted. On Aug. 27th, I watched the first set roll in and it was a hell of a lot bigger then I thought it was going to be. I tried to stay focused and study the conditions. I watched each set looking for the cleanest waves and the ones that were best shaped for bodysurfing.

When I finally swam out, I felt amazing. That’s the only thing that calms me on a big day. It forces me to slow everything down and focus on the surf. One of the reasons I love bodysurfing Wedge and other heavy spots is it forces me to block out all the bullshit of life and just focus on my surroundings.

After I took the first set on the head, I realized how much more playful big hurricanes swells are compared to big southern hemi swells like the one in 2009. I knew it was going to be a fun day for all the boys. I was really impressed with all the young Wedge riders, they all stepped up to the occasion and rode amazing…and Chris Kalima is a BEAST.

Teddy Bandaruk

Photo: Hank Haldeman
Photo: Hank Haldeman

When I first arrived at Wedge I was blown away by the amount of drones in the air. I was impressed by the size of the waves, but I was more impressed by how good the in-between ones were.  Some of the peaks were moving pretty fast so it took getting out in the water to feel out what was going on. When I hopped down the sand berm I was stoked to see all my boys swimming out with me at the same time.

The first wave I caught, I didn’t make because it broke on top of my head. The hold down wasn’t bad but on the inside there was a lot of water moving almost pulling you back to where the biggest part of the wave broke. That happened to me a few times which wasn’t a good time. I will remember all the boys charging and leaving the beach stoked on great, big Wedge. Great day for everyone.

Christopher Kalima

IMG_0754I arrived at 6:30am and couldn’t believe how clean it was. I wasn’t living in California when Linda hit in 1997, so I can’t compare the two swells, but it was easily the biggest surf at the Wedge I’ve ever witnessed. I was pumped. There were so many waves rolling through, I knew everyone would score. The outside was super crowded, so my plan was to sit inside and pick off the medium ones until the crowd thinned a bit. I ended up wearing most of the bigger sets, but found a lot of funs ones in between. Honestly, we so rarely see any waves of consequence in Southern California that getting caught inside actually got me really excited. I love that shit.

The Marie swell is the standard that all future hurricane swells will now be measured against in my book. Big, consistent, and the winds actually cooperated the entire day. I was psyched to see everyone charging, some in their 20s, others in their 50s, it was awesome to watch. Plus I found some new lineup markers that I filed away for future reference, I might have to write them down so I remember 20 years from now.

Thomas Van Melum

IMG_0634When I arrived, my first thought was, “What a circus!”  — if you’re going you may as well be dressed as a clown. I love the circus down there. I was happy to see A BUNCH of randys and news trucks around — to hear the grumpy old men talk about how it was in ’88, uncrowded — nervous because my feet were cut to shit from too much bodysurfing the week before on that TS Lowell swell. Hurricane stuff isn’t scary (Southern Hemis are a different story). But even then, I grew up here. I’ve spent a lot of time here. I don’t feel nervous or scared or anything when it gets big. As big spots go, this place is honestly pretty tame. Shit, there’s a fucking harbor on the other side, it can’t be that gnarly.

Preparing to swim out, you want to stay calm — so I walked right over to Sexy Jeff and jokingly said “I’m going to do a flip off this berm, then if I hurt my foot, I have an excuse to not go out.” I want to put on a good show — I want the crowd to get their monies worth. Once I saw the sets, I knew how epic the day was going to be. I decided right then and there I was going to stay out as long as I could, I may not get another chance at swell like this at The Wedge Street.

I took a mini freight on the head less than 10 minutes into my session…we all did. I dove 10+ feet down, and felt NOTHING. Could have been in a swimming pool for all I knew. Easy peazy japensezy. I always take the first wave that comes to me in the beginning of a session — helps get a feel for the day and set the tone. The first wave I caught was small and rippable — it solidified my feelings that today was THE DAY. This day has been a dream of mine.

The sequence that sticks out most in my mind was this: I took the first wave of a set. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arch nemesis, SHREDDER. I popped up all smiles. Then I saw Matty Larson taking off on the next wave. BALLS, that wave was epic. He was getting tossed around like a rag doll on this wave but still bodysurfing it. I could really see him doing everything in his power to ride, but I could also see that there was very little within his power he could do to ride. He made it to the end of that wave and got a GIANT barrel riding the foamball. That was a good 30 seconds.

Overall, I’ll remember how much fun it is to bodysurf with your friends — after all I’m in a different spot in my life, my daughter took her first steps the night before. While most people were watching videos of Wedge getting bigger and bigger, I was watching the video of my daughter’s first steps over and over again. Timing is a funny thing.

Tim Burnham
I had to ride my bike down from my house for this swell because the traffic was so bad from all the hype. I didn’t get down until 2 because it took me an extra 40 minutes to ride down after I got off work. When I first pulled up most the other Crew guys were done with what I hear was an epic session.

The waves were pretty damn big so I rushed to get my gear on. I talked Matt Larson into going out with me for another session and right when we were about to jump in a set of about 10 waves piled through. I’m in pretty bad shape from all the desk work I’ve been doing lately so at that point I was questioning my intelligence of going out haha. We ended up paddling out right after the set and got out in the lineup pretty quickly.

Once I got out there the current started going mad. It was a constant battle to stay in position for at least 45 minutes. I got one “ok” wave and then had to pull some kid onto the lifeguard boat that panicked. I ended up getting out pretty soon after that once I realized it wasn’t getting any better.

The thing I’ll remember most about this swell is Matt Larson going on a bomb freight train set that I thought there was no way he’d make down. He did. And he did it with a smile on his face. That guy is a beast. I was also pretty stoked on all the younger crew guys like Teddy Bandaruk that stepped it up this swell too. The future of the Crew is looking stronger than ever thanks to guys like him.

 

Special thanks to Hank Haldeman for the use of his epic photos from that day.
He can be found at:
Hank’s Bodysurfing Blog
Hank Haldeman on 500px

Images, Thoughts and Reflections – Wedge, July 6 & 7, 2014 – Ron Romanosky

Roman03-023
Photo by Woody Woodworth

Ron Romanosky rode Wedge for decades as a knee boarder and bodysurfer and has long been known as a strong supporter of Wedge bodysurfing.  He has photographed and documented Wedge in its entirety, its standout bodysurfers and its unique ongoing story for years, long before the www and social media discovered and exploited the place.  From its inception the Surfers Journal has published Ron’s photos of Wedge and of surfing in general.   The Journal also published three Wedge-related pieces written by him, the last of which was Our Wedge, Our Way.   His photos have appeared in print media around the world.   He continues to shape kneeboards under the logo ROMANOSKY and has websites for kneeboards and photography:  www.romanoskykneeboards.com and www.romanoskyphoto.com Note:  A battle with late stage throat cancer necessitating weeks of chemo and radiation treatments in 2009 led to Ron’s decision to leave the wedge lineup.

Picture 022This is the Wedge California and I knew years before the internet and long before every attention-craving social media post would immediately be known to the world.  The image, from a 35mm slide and one of a several shot sequence, was captured at mid-day in the summer of 1990 or 1991.  No, the transparency was not scanned to facilitate photo-shop to remove anyone from the image or to add anything.  Minutes prior to this wave – one of a 3 or 4 wave set, several bodysurfing friends and I had been in the water.  Scattered about on the beach was a small number of beach goers more interested in tanning.  The word mellow adequately describes that day.  The only camera there was mine.  There were many days such as this one – of a pristine Wedge, etched into my memory banks… and, for both substantiation and history, archived in my film collections.


First called ‘The Hook’ Wedge (it’s ‘The Wedge’ to the TV and news media and the great masses directed there) has hooked riders and fans for decades.  And since the advent of the internet (and consequently, due to it) this once bodysurfing-only spot during big south swells has become ground zero for riders of every persuasion and trend who would challenge it, test themselves and hope to “star”.  Unfortunately, Wedge’s fame and notoriety have not escaped the usual commercial and promotional interests (specifically, skim and surfboard companies and many photographers) who covet the break for its earning potential.  Wedge bodysurfing would likely become a memory if these interests had their way.  Fortunately the Newport Beach City Council has not yet allowed Wedge to become California board surfing’s first whorehouse… nor, it is hoped by bodysurfers and Balboa Peninsula homeowners alike, will it ever. 

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This set peak is reserved for the bodysurfer who has positioned himself in the right spot, as small and specific as it always seems to be on the big ones, and who possesses the rare abilities to catch and grace it with skills which are the end result of years of dedication and experience. And let us not forget the parts played by aptitude, passion, stamina and talent in the makeup of an outstanding bodysurfer. And the end result when such an individual glides across a good wave? Nothing other than the exhibition of an art form.

 

Inviting shape here.  With the majority of this swell’s set waves being quite the opposite it was disappointing that no one took it.   With big souths being as rare as rain in SoCal one could even imagine that one rider might have snaked another on this one.  But as wrong as that offence is, it happens... and it was not uncommon 2-3 years ago.  The water temperature on both days was as nice as the absence of wetsuits should indicate.
Inviting shape here. With the majority of this swell’s set waves being quite the opposite it was disappointing that no one took it. With big souths being as rare as rain in SoCal one could even imagine that one rider might have snaked another on this one. But as wrong as that offence is, it happens… and it was not uncommon 2-3 years ago. The water temperature on both days was as nice as the absence of wetsuits should indicate.

Teddy Bandaruk on a good one.  The water color is real, not enhanced.
Teddy Bandaruk on a good one. The water color is real, not enhanced.

 

The swell, although not an all-timer, had an inordinate amount of push as the tide filled in on the 6th.  The great amount of water constantly refilling the depression behind the berm resulted in the largest pond and “river” many long-time Wedge people have ever witnessed.  The rapids had small standing waves that were even rideable on boogies.  Everyone, save those who got drenched, lost belongings or got their cameras ruined, enjoyed this face of Wedge.
The swell, although not an all-timer, had an inordinate amount of push as the tide filled in on the 6th. The great amount of water constantly refilling the depression behind the berm resulted in the largest pond and “river” many long-time Wedge people have ever witnessed. The rapids had small standing waves that were even rideable on boogies. Everyone, save those who got drenched, lost belongings or got their cameras ruined, enjoyed this face of Wedge.

Parker Varner “riding” the sand bar of sand bars.
Parker Varner “riding” the sand bar of sand bars.

This shot gives a good idea of the swell’s push.  The little kids were loving it – hard to imagine their experiences from this day not being etched into their memories for all time.
This shot gives a good idea of the swell’s push. The little kids were loving it – hard to imagine their experiences from this day not being etched into their memories for all time.

Sean Starky where he likes being.
Sean Starky where he likes being.

Not a big wave, but a rare right.  The lighting and white water dramatize the image some.  Rider ?
Not a big wave, but a rare right. The lighting and white water dramatize the image some. Rider ?

Long time bodysurfers Rick Piani and Craig Plitt standing next to a stretching Sean Starky.   These three represent 60 or more years of Wedge experience.
Long time bodysurfers Rick Piani and Craig Plitt standing next to a stretching Sean Starky. These three represent 60 or more years of Wedge experience.

The un-rideable?  No way.  If there’s a camera on the beach or in the water there’s always some willing bloke for some rogueish Wedge thing, damn the consequences (unless they’re suffered, eh?).
The un-rideable? No way. If there’s a camera on the beach or in the water there’s always some willing bloke for some rogueish Wedge thing, damn the consequences (unless they’re suffered, eh?).

Thick... nasty... hollow... and rideable.  Trick with one like this is catching it where it’s catchable.  An added pleasure: not witnessing the clutter of water snappers usually populating and polluting the wave’s fore’water’.  Catching the crowd in this shot was intentional.
Thick… nasty… hollow… and rideable. Trick with one like this is catching it where it’s catchable. An added pleasure: not witnessing the clutter of water snappers usually populating and polluting the wave’s fore’water’. Catching the crowd in this shot was intentional.

Thomas VanMelum in the middle of what was a smooth spinner.  To really appreciate a good spinner it must be seen taking place or in a video.  A still photo will not do one justice.
Thomas VanMelum in the middle of what was a smooth spinner. To really appreciate a good spinner it must be seen taking place or in a video. A still photo will not do one justice.

The height of this wave breaking in the harbor entrance usually indicates an epic swell seen perhaps once every 3 or 4 years.   Accordingly the set waves at Wedge should have exceeded 30 feet in face height (the largest this swell may have been twenty).  Note: Photographing such a wave from the Wedge jetty’s rocks, without the people, remains a quest.
The height of this wave breaking in the harbor entrance usually indicates an epic swell seen perhaps once every 3 or 4 years. Accordingly the set waves at Wedge should have exceeded 30 feet in face height (the largest this swell may have been twenty). Note: Photographing such a wave from the Wedge jetty’s rocks, without the people, remains a quest.

Yes - SUPers are becoming part of the on-going, ever-changing Wedge story.  Thank the Heavens for the Blackball!
Yes – SUPers are becoming part of the on-going, ever-changing Wedge story. Thank the Heavens for the Blackball!

No caption necessary, though paramedics are occasionally summoned after such beauties.
No caption necessary, though paramedics are occasionally summoned after such beauties.

Not an enviable position, eh?  Bud Browne would have paid to have caught this wipeout.  So Bud, this one’s for you.
Not an enviable position, eh? Bud Browne would have paid to have caught this wipeout. So Bud, this one’s for you.

From the street at sunset 7/6/14: a somewhat familiar scene of emergency and police vehicles congregating at Wedge as the red flag on the guard stand is barely affected by a gentle breeze.
From the street at sunset 7/6/14: a somewhat familiar scene of emergency and police vehicles congregating at Wedge as the red flag on the guard stand is barely affected by a gentle breeze.

-Ron Romonosky

Perspectives: The Bodysurf Contest

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.


Sean at Point Panic
Photo by Doug Palama

 

Sean Enoka

Location: Oahu

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.”


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Photo by unknown

Henrique Pistilli

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!”


JT Perspectives
Photo by John Minar

J.T. Nickelson

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.”


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Photo by Mike Sidebottom

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.”


 

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Photo by Andy Quinn

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?”


 

Photo by Nicolas Risch
Photo by Nicolas Risch

Fred David

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!”