Boogie Boards: How, When and Why they Became so Popular

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You just wade out into the water, wait for a wave, throw yourself down on your Boogie board and away you go. It’s as simple as that.

Boogie boarding is basically a form of body surfing; you just add in a small piece of foam under your belly. The Polynesian people first used a variance of this with “alaia” boards made of wood. They would ride these on their belly or sometimes their knees as Captain Cook observed and reported upon his arrival in Hawaii in 1778. It took another couple hundred years for an American to revolutionize the sport using modern materials.

The Boogie Board is Born
Legend has it that the Boogie board was invented by Tom Morley in July of 1971 while living in Hawaii. To make a long story short, while experimenting with different shapes and materials, Morey one day cut his last piece of polyethylene foam in half, shaped it a bit with a hot iron and the boogie board was born.

The Sport Grows up
The art of Boogie boarding has risen from a fun pastime to organized championship level competitions. Bryan Cain of Iowa was the first winner of the International Morey Boogie Body Board Pro Championships in 1977. The competitions carried on with Morey’s name until 1995 when they became the GOB World Tour. Then from 2003 and on, the competitions changed names to the IBA World Tour with Ben Player of Australia claiming the title in 2013. Past champions have hailed from Brazil, France, South Africa and the U.S.A. (All U.S Champs hailing from Hawaii except for Cain that first year).

Many Brands to Choose From
Boogie boards have become big business with boards ranging from Morey’s Big Kahuna to Wave Rebel’s Princess. Other companies out there in the field include: Body Glove, Whamo, Loca Motion and BZ. Sizes range from Morey’s Blue Boogie board at 27” to Wave Rebel’s XXXL at a whopping 48”.

It’s a Cheap Sport
All you need is a bathing suit and a board and you’re Boogie boarding. Retail prices on boards range from Morey’s 27” Blue Boogie board for $19.95 to Wave Rebel’s Pro classic 42” for $67.99. Renting really seems the way to go as you can rent boards anywhere from $5 per hour to $7 a day on some beaches.

It’s a Sub-culture
Boogie boarders have developed their own lingo with even Wikipedia listing some of them like; “Churning” which describes a wave that is hollow, heavy and sucking off a reef, “Frothing” when a good wave excites you and “Ramp” when a wave contains a section good for getting air. Of course the ubiquitous “Dude” is thrown in any and everywhere you like.

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