It's about life - not "lifestyle"
Recently an exchange of viewpoints took place on a bodysurfing list which produced some strong opinions. There isn't much written about bodysurfing by bodysurfers. Being less photogenic, and without a perceived big market for photos, not much attetion is paid to bodysurfing in the surf media.

One of the best of these exchanges were the responses of Mike Sullivan. Not everybody would agree with everything he wrote, I suppose, but in my opinion everybody should read them. Reprinted with permission of Mike Sullivan.
Question: Do you believe that present day bodysurfing primarily attracts participants who are societal anomalies, or has it always fostered this minimalist, "outsider" tradition?

Depends of the locale. Bodysurfing is well recognized and popular in some countries and some USA breaks, but since it is not driven by the mass market whoredom that standup is, it is not so universally known in the US, especially in some of the more recent surf spots where surfing is a matter of buying and showing up, and not a part of an overall waterman culture as in many legacy surf areas.

It seems you were trying to be provocative with your "sub cultural" comment. True? It's actually quite true, though not in the sense you meant it. 90% of the surf culture now is about marketing gear to people. It's about money, not about surfing. Bodysurfers have a pretty small market for stuff to buy, therefore aren't part of the popular surf culture per se. That's a good thing IMHO.

Question:  How do you feel about the obvious, insurmountable differences in performance that exist between bodysurfing and the much faster, more maneuverable and photogenic kneeboarding or body boarding?

I think they will eventually catch up. :^) (great straight line, thanks)

Question:  Beyond the skillful tricks perfected by a few (and seen or understood even less), specifically what does bodysurfing have to offer the future of surfing?

Depends on what you define as "surfing". If by surfing you mean the culture of being manipulated into spending thousands of dollars on toys so that you can spend some time at it to imitate style, then bodysurfing offers very little. If by surfing, you mean the act of riding waves for it's own intrinsic value, bodysurfing offers surfing a means to make people more competent and safe in the water, allows more people to use a limited resource, and offers it at a price affordable to everyone.

Bodysurfing offers greater possibility that people need not drive gasoline vehicles to a surf spot to haul their equipment, though I do give credit to the SoCal dudes who have the little surfboard trailers/racks on their bikes.

Good questions.


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