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Why handboard?

This is a topic of heated discussion among bodysurfers. As a piece of equipment, simple though it may be, a lot of purists feel it isn't true bodysurfing. Handboarders point out that swimfins aren't exactly natural equipment, but this sometimes seems to fall on deaf ears.

Handboards allow a bodysurfer to plane higher out of the water, thereby increasing speed. Usually just one is used, although some riders favor a pair of the very small hand paddles used by swimmers for strength and resistance training. Handboards have been around for decades. One model, the Hand Surfa, has been manufactured since at least the middle 1960's (currently available only in Australia).

Between the U.S.A. and Australia there are approximately eight different manufacturers making eight different products which would be classified as handboards. They range from the standard injection molded plastic to the "green" foam-fiberglass construction which Victoria Skimboards makes from excess manufacturing material, to the racy design of Waveblades.

Why handboard? On the right kind of waves a bodysurfer can plane on his or her hands without mechanical aid. However, with a handboard the bodysurfer can unquestionably gain speed for making sectioning waves. Anything which might help make for a longer ride can't be bad.

The other thing is pure fun: handboards are still obscure, bizzarre, sometimes colorful, and always mysterious pieces of surfing equipment. They are small, light, convenient, and inexpensive...unlike all other performance waveriding equipment. Check 'em out.

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