Dirty Old Wedge: Premiere

On April 22, 2016 the Wedge documentary, Dirty Old Wedge, premiered to a sold out theater in Costa Mesa, California. Director, Tim Burnham chose to premiere his debuting film effort within the Newport Beach Film Festival. The local surfing community embraced the move as the NBFF added several more showings, all of which were consequently sold out. After the movie ended to wild ovation the crew gathered outside before heading over to a local gallery for food, drinks and a rolling slideshow by Ron Romanosky.

Ron “Romo” Romanosky, Terry “Sac” Wade, Director Tim Burnham and Kevin “Mel” Thoman Between these four you can be sure you’ll feel the spirit of Wedge Crew.
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Mark Cunningham made the trip over to support the effort and talk with the boys. Here he is talking shop with “The Sherriff” himself, Lee Hernandez.
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Watching Bodysurfing on the big screen is a rare occasion.
Terry “Sac” Wade is easily categorized as one of the best Wedge riders in history. He no longer lives here, so talking with him about his progression was just one of the unique opportunities on offer premiere night. He’s still as stoked out as ever standing in front of a Ron Romanosky iconic slide.
Thoman and Karam putting together a token from the historic night

 

-EJ

Bodysurfer Belinda

All Photos by Adam Kobayashi.

Belinda Baggs or Bindy, as friends call her is a cerebral waverider. She studies swell charts and knows the channels and rip currents around her local surf spots. She takes pleasure in learning about the Ocean, how the energy moves and the water reacts. Belinda speaks of swimming along a reef in the Maldives, mesmerized by the dynamics of water flowing in and out of the lagoon. 

Belinda, always exploring and learning.
Belinda, always exploring and learning.

Bindy grew up in the working-class community of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Her father is a lifelong surfer and she spent extensive time at the beach and in the water growing up. He showed her how to read weather maps and instilled a deep passion for Ocean knowledge. She started competitive swimming around age 12. The 200m freestyle was her strongest event.

Around this same time, she began surfing more seriously. As swimming and surfing became more competitive, she was forced to make a decision. Either dedicate fully to swimming or surfing. The Ocean connection was too powerful. Belinda quit competitive swimming at age 16 and shortly after became a professional surfer. Belinda continues to represent the best of elegance and grace on a longboard. Her strength as a swimmer will forever benefit her as a waverider.

She met the Malloy brothers in 2006 through their mutual ambassadorship with Patagonia. While on the North Shore of Oahu, Belinda checked out the Patagonia Pipeline Bodysurfing Championships. Dan, Keith and Jeff Johnson headed to Ehukai for a swim and invited her to join. They told her, “You know how to swim and hold your breath and ride waves. You’ll love bodysurfing!”  Belinda says, “I immediately felt the vibe and fed off their stoke.”

When asked how bodysurfing relates to her surfing, she says, “Bodysurfing has helped increase my understanding of the Ocean: how waves break and the way water draws off a reef. Bodysurfing has helped my surfing and the two definitely feed off each other. Bodysurfing is refreshing for me because it is anti-competitive…I don’t care if I suck. It simply takes me back to my roots of enjoying the Ocean and riding waves.” She goes on to note, “I feel much safer bodysurfing some waves. It’s easier to navigate through the bright spots in the underwater clouds without a board.”IMG_6024

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Family waveriding.

When not traveling, Belinda is often found riding waves around her home of Torquay, Victoria, Australia. Either gracefully cross-stepping and hanging on the nose of her log or riding her longboard tandem with her 4-year-old son piggybacking for long rides across local point breaks. Or jumping into a messy shorey for a quick bodybash…or bodysurfing nooks of heavy reef with her close friend Jarrah Lynch.

Jarrah is the son of Australian surf legend Wayne Lynch. He enjoys riding alternative surf craft but frequently resorts to bodysurfing the local, off-the-beaten-path, heaviest waves. Belinda says, “Jarrah’s threshold for fear is greater than mine and he pushes me take off bigger and deeper. He has a deep knowledge of the Ocean.”

Near home.
Near home.

Belinda now takes swim fins on all of her surf trips, having bodysurfed in Japan, Indonesia, the Maldives and California. Recently, she’s been trying different fins because she frequently feels undergunned wearing her tiny, size XS DaFins, but she keeps coming back to them.

Belinda cherishes her relationship with her sponsor and employer Patagonia. They are more interested in their athlete’s passion for the Ocean and the environment than contest results. Patagonia embraces bodysurfing and they give Belinda the freedom to enjoy the Ocean on her terms.

She has witnessed an increase of bodysurfers in Australian lineups since the 2011 release of Keith Malloy’s seminal bodysurf film “Come Hell or High Water,” in which she makes an elegant cameo. She also notes that swim fins and handplanes are more readily available in surf shops. There is little doubt she is inspiring the next generation of young women waveriders to try on a pair of fins, go bodysurfing and learn about the Ocean on a whole new level.

Belinda Baggs, Victoria
Belinda Baggs, Victoria

 

Tribe

 

Born-again in the sea, salt junkies we are. Great and small we have found our home in the gentle unrest of the Ocean. Instead of tattoos or flagship colors we don ankles raw almost to bone. Our intent is, simple as our uniform, to feel the Ocean’s heart thump and be tangled in its wrath.

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Percussive is our song. The bass kicks hard and ride cymbal fills the room. The combination sends electrical impulses shooting the length of our spinal cord. There begins our dance. Unsynchronized and ill advised, we slide until the bass drops and we rise, dripping wet gasping for life.

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The tribe hunts together as our ancestors hunted before us. We bob in the wilderness on the edge of a digital frontier. Here we find the time to look each other in the eye. Here we can listen. Star stuff, collected for life. This eon’s latest trick, we stick together. A self-aware tribe of water-bound primates.

 

-EJ

Bodysurfing’s Rosetta Stone

Every subculture develops its own nomenclature to describe their endeavors. Skiers and snowboarders use dozens of words to articulate different snow conditions. Skateboarders have a name for every kick and flip. Likewise, waveriders have hundreds of words to describe the Ocean and waves.

Bodywomp
Bodywomp

Bodysurfers have developed our own words to chronicle our Ocean passion. In the United States, womp or whomp has become synonymous with bodysurfing. “I’m gonna go for a womp.” However, the origin of the word comes from early surf days when people would go for a “bodywomp” in shallow shorebreak. Womp being the sound that the body makes when splattering on the sand.

Shacked, pitted, tubed...
Shacked, pitted, tubed…

 

Many words are used to describe a barreling wave: tube, pit, shack, cave, keg, green room, cavern etc. We use a multitude of words to discuss conditions: glassy, blown-out, closed-out, clean, bowling, heaving, funky, crispy, lined-up, peaky, offshore, victory-at-sea, thumping etc.

 

We’re members of a worldwide tribe. From all corners of the globe, everywhere waves break on shore, people ride the energy. Bodysurfing is an ancient endeavor, probably the first form of recreational waveriding. It stands to reason that many cultures developed their own words for riding waves and more specifically, bodysurfing waves.

Kaha nalu in Hawaii. Image: Keali'i Punley
Kaha nalu in Hawaii.        Image: Keali’i Punley

Kaha Nalu is the ancient Hawaiian word for bodysurfing. The spirit of Hawaiian bodysurfing is summarized by the Hawaiian State Bodysurfing Association’s motto:  Hōpūpū i ke kaha nalu meaning “to be extremely emotionally excited about bodysurfing.”

Viya on the Black Sea coast of Turkey. Image: Selman Kiran
Viya on the Black Sea coast of Turkey.                               Image: Selman Kiran

 

On the Black Sea coast of Turkey, for centuries people have been partaking in a past time they call Viya, meaning waves in a Greek dialect dating back before the Ottoman Empire. Fishermen challenge themselves by bodysurfing in wintertime storm surf along the jagged Turkish coast. It is still practiced today, passed down from father to son.

In Brazil, bodysurfing is known as jacaré which translates to alligator. It has been used since the 1940’s, when bodysurfing gained popularity at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. In the 1980’s, the term surfe de peito meaning chest surf became popular. In Peru, bodysurfing is known as “pechito” or little chest. Costa Rican’s refer to their swim fins as patas de ranas or frog legs.

Similar to a womp in the USA, Australians go for a bodybash and South Africans might run out for a quick goef. In Japan, bodysurfing is  ボディーサーフィン  and also known as sunori  素乗り or bare riding. Italians enjoy the Mediterranean Sea and sometimes bodysurf, called surf con il corpo.  Many countries use the word bodysurf but add their own accents including: Mexico, France, Spain and Portugal.

 

Whatever you call it, bodysurfing is the most supreme pleasure experienced by people across the globe. If you ever find yourself on a foreign coast with waves breaking, ask around, you might be surprised to find bodysurfers enjoying waves and talking story in their native tongue. 

-KS

Special thanks:
Rodrigo Bruno in Brazil, Keali’i Punley in Hawaii, Tunc Ucyildiz in Turkey, Ricardo Añorga in Peru, Masakazu Miura Fleming in Japan, Oliver and Axel in Italy and Belly Slater in Australia