World Bellyboard Championship: don't laugh, this is serious'

Now into it’s eighth consecutive year, the World Bellyboard Championship is going to be held on the 5th September, at Chapel Porth Beach, Cornwall, UK.

Organised and hosted by the National Trust it is a celebration of all things connected with the art of riding traditional wooden boards.

Judges will be looking for the length of ride, wave selection, change of direction, style and the most radical manoeuvres in the most critical part of the wave, i.e the curl.

Robyn Davies, contest director and NT surf guru says "The event has gone truly global in recent years with entrants from Australia, New York, San Francisco and British Virgin Islands. It continues to grow from strength to strength, yet we hope remain connected to it's fun roots. So dust down your old plywood stick, grab your brand new shaped model from the rack or unveil your homemade. We'd love you to come along and share your stories of riding ply. See you in the water!”

The World Belly Boarding Championship (WBBC) was first started in 2002 at Chapel Porth by Martyn Ward and Chris Ryan as a memorial contest to the late Arthur Traveller, a Londoner who holidayed with his wooden board at Chapel Porth every year. From its humble beginnings with only a handful of competitors it has now grown into the World Championships we see today with over 200 entrants.

Bellyboarders: aren't they great?

From the beginning it has been a very simple, back-to-basics comp – no wetsuits, no leashes and no swim fins. A bit of wood and a swimsuit is all you need, you don’t even need to bring money as the entry fee is free.

The first surfing of this type which we now call “Belly Boarding” (although in the UK it was just called surfing on surfboards until the arrival of the Malibu boards in the early 1960s) is thought to have started in the very early 1900s when a form of the Hawaiian ‘Paipo’ board was copied by British soldiers returning from the Great War inspired by stories of surfing from South Africa, Australia and Hawaii.

Sopelana BBK Pro: get ready for Spanish action

The fifth edition of the Sopelana BBK Pro has reunited the world's top bodyboarders.

After a flat August in Biscay coast, the waves have arrived in time for a true spectacle with champions such as Ryan Hardy, Ben Player, Dave Winchester or the Hawaiians Jeff Hubbard, Dave Hubbard and Jacob Romero.

Of course, current ranking leader Amaury Lavernhe is also in Spain to join the wave party.

The winner of the 2010 Sopelana BBK Pro will take 1000 points, a very relevant sum to decide the future world bodyboarding champion.

Ben Player: a serious plastic man

Bodyboarders are the plastic men of modern wave riding. In less than a month, two competitions boosted the image of the sport founded by Tom Morey.

The Zicatela Pro, in Puerto Escondido (Mexico) and the Shark Island Challenge, in Cronulla (Australia) have shown why pro bodyboarding is a very serious venture.

While surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing have found their solid base of loyal sponsors, bodyboarding is still struggling to consolidate its industry and, at the same time, a group of world sponsors for the major competitions.

The truth is that pro bodyboarding has evolved a lot, in the last years. From the athlete's point of view, bodyboarding has presented tricks and maneuvers than cannot be seen in any other wave sport. These men are made of plastic.

And that's why Terry McKenna and his IBA team are doing an excellent job promoting bodyboarding in many coastal towns and cities. Bodyboarding has conquered all the respect it deserves from fellow surfers, kitesurfers and windsurfers.

Let's hope plastic men like Ben Player keep us entertained.