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How to choose a Bodyboard

 

Bodyboarding is really easy to start, a bodyboard suited to your weight and height (see chart under), a good pair of fins (flippers) and a leash will have you on the way to catching your first wave, pulling a 360 even on the flat section is another story....

NMD njoy bodyboard
NMD Njoy model is an ideal first bodyboard

 

Bodyboard Size Chart
Bodyboard
Your weight
Your height
36"-38"
65 - 85 lbs
4' - 5'
39"
85 - 115 lbs
4'6" - 5'2"
40"
110 - 130 lbs
5'3"- 5'6"
41"- 41.75"
125 - 170 lbs
5'7" - 5'9"
42"
145 - 180 lbs
5'9"-6'0"
42.5"
160 - 190 lbs
5'10"- 6'2"
43"
170 - 210 lbs
6'1"- 6'3"
44"
180 - 270 lbs
6'2"- 6'4"
45"
195 - 255lbs
6'3" - 6'6"
46"
200lbs +
6'4" +

 

Length- Your board, when standing on it's tail should come up to roughly within 1 inch either side of your belly button.

Width- You should be able to hold the bodyboard under your arm and against your side without much slack between your armpit and the rail.

Nose and tail width, and template- if you're a beginner, the tail design doesn't really matter much. but if you're more into the sport, bat tails are the choice of most prone-only riders, and crescents are the choice of most drop knee-only riders. If you are both, then consider what your ratio of prone to drop knee is, and go with the tail design that covers how you ride more (prone or drop knee). On templates, most prone riders like a bodyboard with the wide point closer to the nose, and most drop knee riders like it further back.

Rails- Most bodyboards have a 60/40 rail configuration that means that 60% of the rail is on the bottom side and 40% is on top, this is better for prone riding and makes tricks easier to pull off . Some bodyboards have a 50/50 rail which sticks better to the curl , it is also more stable ( good for Drop Knee riding) but less forgiving for the 360 and reverse tricks.

BELLYBOARDING

If you only intend to do some Belly boarding, i.e. just riding white water straight towards the beach from waist depth of water then the correct size is less important than if you are using swim fins (flippers). Personally we believe that it is pointless spending over £100 if all you want to do is Belly boarding. You'll be amazed at what you can get for £35 to £80. Look for a board that reaches your belly button when stood on the floor, an extra inch or so may give you a bit more flotation.

BODYBOARDING

The dynamic of using fins and riding across the wave we call Bodyboarding and waves are generally caught from further out beyond the breaking wave. Swim fins allow you to generate the power to get into waves before they start breaking (find out more about fins in our FINS section). Having the right board will make a big difference in your ability to catch waves and the control over the board while you are riding, especially in steeper sections of the wave.

CHOOSING YOUR NEW BOARD

When choosing a board for bodyboarding we run with the following principles:

You need a board that is the correct length and width for your height, build and the type of waves you will be riding. If you are heavier go for more width and more tail width, perhaps a thicker core too.

The correct flex and recoil is important, it’s the magic that makes your board work. The materials used in construction will affect the way a board will bend and recoil to its original shape; although this is dependent on where you are using it. Colder waters and climates require a board with more flex while hotter climates require materials that are stiffer. Some riders tend to punish boards more than others so they often have to step up a grade of stiffness to get a board that will last longer.

IMPORTANT THINGS ABOUT YOUR NEW BOARD

For Bodyboarding the board should be as close to the right size for you as possible. Boards that are too long will push water and will be much harder to control. Boards that are too small will lack flotation so are harder to catch waves on.

LENGTH

When choosing the right board stand it in front of you, the nose should come somewhere between the top of your hip to you navel (tummy button). If you are a heavier rider or surf in weaker waves it is important to keep flotation high on your agenda. Don't make the common mistake of going longer in a board to get floatation, add buoyancy by choosing a wider template with a slightly wider tail and perhaps a slightly thicker core too. (pic of measuring board to navel)

WIDEPOINT

Boards with the wide point towards the middle work very well in most conditions, both for prone (lying) and drop knee (semi standing). The further up the board the wide point is, the more directional the board will become. This works better in bigger waves, where your weight is pulled a little further up the board for speed.

FLAT

Make sure the board is flat. Hold the board on its edge and look down its rail; it should be nice and flat. Boards with excess rocker are harder to catch waves on; they push water and are therefore slower. When you need rocker (for turns) you should be able to bend it into the board whilst riding. (pic showing flat board)

FLEX & RECOIL = PROJECTION

Flex & recoil = projection = speed, this is the magic that really makes your board work.

Having the right flex depends on the materials used and the climate. Stiffer boards work better in bigger waves, clean surf and warmer waters, they tend be harder to control in choppy conditions. I liken a stiff board to be like driving a car with no suspension down a rough track, it’ll be slower and a lot harder to control. Having good flex/recoil will fire you through turns, spins, rolls and airs.

Even the simple act of catching a wave is easier on a board with the right flex. Check the flex by placing the tail on the floor and placing your palm on the deck give the board a flex. Turn the board around and do the same this time with your palm on the slick, if the board bends and springs back without too much effort then you’re onto a good board. Remember that all boards tend to become a little more flexible with time.

CONSTRUCTION

Many people ask us....what is the difference between a £30 board and a £150 board? Basically it will come down to strength, build quality and performance. All of our boards here will have the best performance for their price but before you buy we will explain a little more about what is inside your new board. Starting from the cheapest, let’s look at the options....

EPS CORE (Expanded Polystyrene)

Boards made using this core material come in many shapes and sizes. If you get a well designed EPS board you'll be surprised by the performance. However most are not up to standard, poorly laminated and badly shaped. Look for a thicker core for strength (around 50-55mm thick), also a more dense deck and rail materials will add valuable strength. We choose the very best EPS boards available, so if your budget doesn't stretch to a PE core then we'll still get you on a great board. Never pay over £50 for an EPS board.

PE CORE

The next core up is PE (Polyethylene). Now a lot of people think just because it’s a PE core then it’s better than EPS, this is not always the case. The density and quality of the PE core is what makes all the difference. Dow makes the best PE used in bodyboards. Core density should be 2.2lb pcf (Pounds per cubic foot) and above, this is the density of the foam per square foot. I have seen 1.8PE foam with 3 stringers sell for £80. The board is weaker than many at £40. It is good to get sound advice when buying a PE board.

A good PE core board does work great here in the colder waters of the UK. The best combination for performance is 2.2 – 2.4lb PE core, 8lb PE deck skin, single stringer (rod inside for extra strength and recoil). PE core boards will come in a choice of HDPE slick bottom (High density polyethylene) or surlyn slick (made by DuPont) HDPE. HDPE features on all boards under £90. This material is fine but when it creases it creases deep, which will permanently affect the flex of the board. Surlyn is the best slick skin that is available. It has elasticity which helps the board recoil to its original shape after flexing; it tends not to crease as deep as HDPE either. Some boards add a mesh under the slick for a bit of extra strength too.

3D CORE

3D core is utilising the two most popular core materials, PE and PP in a sandwich construction. The idea is to give you a board that will have a flex half way between the two which is a bit more suited to cooler conditions. Good for riders who tend to be heavy in the way they ride or for people looking for a board that is a bit more of an all rounder. i.e. UK use and travel.

PP CORE

The most expensive core and the core of choice for warmer, hotter climates is PP (Polypropylene). Polypropylene is lightweight and waterproof. A great core but often too stiff here in the UK, esp in the winter.
If you are considering a PP board look for 1.9 PCF core. 8Lb PE deck, Surlyn slick. This will give you all the performance you will need for warmer waters and climate.

TAIL DESIGN

The shape of the tail will affect how the board will track in the wave and is nearly always in some contact with the wave. There are two main designs.

CRESCENT TAIL

Crescent tail boards tend to grip the wave nicely thus making them very user-friendly for prone and drop knee riding; the smaller the tail peg and deeper the tail design, the more the board will grip the wave. Slightly bigger tail pegs and a more shallow tail design will enable the tail to release more easily for spins and sliding manoeuvres. A tail design around 17.5 inches wide is a great all round width.

BAT TAIL

The BAT TAIL is good tail of choice for weaker surf or unpredictable conditions. By increasing the flotation over the rear of the board, the bat tail can give more speed but tends to give the board a little looser feel, especially at higher speed. Most of our riding tends to be towards the back of the board so the bat tail is a good option for heavier rider & those looking for a performance in smaller conditions.


For a good all round 50/50 drop knee/prone board go for the crescent tail. If you want one for mostly prone and smaller conditions then go for the bat, just make sure it’s not too extreme a design!

OTHER IMPORTANT FEATURESRAILS

The rails are the side edges of the board. There are two parts, the rail which is the lower proportion of the edge and the chine which is the part that wraps around onto the deck. The rail, chine proportions are often referred in percentages like 60/40 or 50/50. Nowadays the better companies use a 55/45 rail configuration. This means 55% rail to 45% chine, great for most type of waves and riding style.

CHANNELS

Channels are small fluted groves running up from the tail on the slick side of the board. These tend to be positioned close to the edge. Channels are designed to give you a little more grip/ control in the face of the wave and help prevent side slipping. These days most channels are about the same depth and are designed to give a extra while will still enabling easy release for spins and other manoeuvres; the deeper the channel the more grip you will get.

STRINGER or ROD

Stringers are often fitted inside boards to give extra strength; they can also help the board spring back to its original shape. Too many stringers can make the board to stiff. Normally one is enough if the core is strong. The better stringers are made from carbon fibre and taper throughout their length. This gives a bit more flex towards the top half of the board where you need more.

SURLYN SLICK

Surlyn made by DuPont is still regarded as the very best slick skin available. This slick has elasticity which helps enhance your board ability to bend and spring back to its original shape. Surlyn slick material is three times as expensive as HDPE but worth the investment for the added performance and life you get from the board.

DOUBLE RAILS

Double rails mean that there are two layers of foam running down the edge of the board. The rail can be stiffened up more by adding an extra layer of foam, this helps to give the board valuable strength and a bit more speed.

NOSE & TAIL BUMPERS

Bumpers are extra layers of foam attached under the nose and tail that help prevent these areas from de-laminating. The corners of a board take a lot of punishment so having this extra protection is great feature that will make your board last a lot longer.

NOSE BULBS

Bulbs are small indentations that are scooped out from the corners of the nose on the slick side. The idea is to give you more grip and a better feel for a board. Well worth having.

8LB PE OPEN CELL DECK SKIN

Still regarded as the best deck material as it is less likely to impair the boards ability to flex & recoil. It has a softer, slightly rough feel to it unlike its alternative crosslink deck skin which has a stiffer smooth feel. (pic of deck skin)

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