The Future of Bodyboarding

The Future of Bodyboarding
Photo by ZACHARY PEARSON / Unsplash

TLDR - Why is bodyboarding still not thriving?

Over the years, we’ve seen multiple bodyboarding body’s, amongst them are Global Organization of Bodyboarding (GOB), International Bodyboarding Association (IBA), the Association of Professional Bodyboarders (APB) and now the International Bodyboarding Corporation - which I didn’t even know exists, prior to writing post, which means their marketing is super weak and I spend a good chunk of my free time watching bodyboarding videos on youtube and instagram.

In my 12 years of being active in the sport, the governing body rebranded 3 times. That’s practically unheard of.

As much as I have respect for all those organisations, they all have one thing in common - running out of funds and going belly up, leaving talented riders in limbo.

So bodyboarding isn’t premature industry - in fact at some point it thrived where it was a financially so strong that the more powerful “standup” industry was intimidated by it (early 90s), at least according to the documentary “Holding On”. But since 2010 it’s like a sad downward spiral.

While it had a few good moments, like the Fronton event that had a giant like Red Bull as a sponsor and decent prize money, a few successful Shark Island events that drew lots of viewers internationally and generally Pipeline has its way of turning eyes, the rest of the tour is small practically underfunded. And I think the pandemic shoved the last bit of it.

I understand, bodyboarding organisations are absolutely tiny compared to the WSL (who renamed from ASP in 2015 for the first time since 1976).

I think it’s easy to blame lack of sponsors and support, but at the same time, there’s sport industries and organisations that’s not half the size of bodyboarding, but it remains a stable, consistent and well organised.

  • There’s not a lack of riders.
  • Definitely not a lack of talent.
  • Most certainly not a lack of interest - bodyboard equipment sells pretty well to this day, bodyboarding videos on YouTube gets a lot of hits.
  • And we’re seeing riders from Africa, the Americas (north, south and central), Europe, Australia and recently Asia, particularly Japan, where bodyboarding is niche, but booming.

So we have a good chunk of the planet covered which means bigger involvement. But what is preventing it from leading to success?

Why is it so unstable?

Internal politics?

Just something I was thinking about last night.

I’m not a great rider by any means and don’t get in the water as often as I used to, but there’s this burning desire inside of me to see this sport that drove me through my teens and currently my 20s to have the tune of success what it once was.

With technology like wave-pools and the internet, I think we have more resources than ever to make it thrive again.

What’s your thoughts? Where are the main problems? How can we get it out of this vicious cycle of failing entities in the future?

Bodyboarding is validated - it sells pretty well for being the sport it is. Why stop there? Why not make the pro-scene the bigger success that it deserves to be?