Bodyboarding: the sport's first world championship was run in 1982 | Photo: IBA

The sport of bodyboarding has been riding waves since 1973 when Tom Morey invented the 4'6'' bellyboard. But it took nearly a decade for the first pro contest to crown world champion. Let's take a look at pro bodyboarding's colorful road.

The first professional bodyboarding competition ever was the 1979 Morey/Gap Pro. It was held in Huntington Beach, California, and it was sponsored by Tom Morey's Morey Boogie, a brand that was already selling thousands of bodyboards per month.

The young wave sport would have to wait until 1982 for the first "unofficial" world championships. The inaugural International Morey Boogie Bodyboard Pro Championships (IMBBPC) crowned Daniel Kaimi as bodyboarding's first world champion.

The IMBBPC insignia prevailed until 1994, although the event was not run in 1985; Mike Stewart won eight out of 12 titles in this era. Ben Severson (1986), Michael Eppelstun (1993), and Guilherme Tâmega (1994) were also crowned winners during the IMBBPC period.

In 1992, surf organizer Randy Rarick helps in the creation of the Association of Professional Bodyboarders (APB), with the goal of developing all levels of the sport.

Bodyboarding: new venues brought new performances and performers | Photo: Jimenez/APB

In less than three years, the Global Organization of Bodyboarding (GO Bodyboarding) takes control of professional bodyboarding and runs a new world tour model. The first event was held in Viana, Portugal, and it was a major success.

By the end of 1995, the name changes slightly to Global Organization of Bodyboarders (GOB), and Guilherme Tâmega wins the first world title of the new epoch. The GOB World Tour got underway from 1995 to 1999. Tâmega claimed three trophies; Andre Botha conquered two world titles.

The performance levels increased each year, and grand surf spots were added to the schedule: Pipeline, Reunion Island, and even surf pool got in the game of prone riding. In 1999, pro bodyboarders were divided - 50 percent believed the GOB World Tour was well balanced, but the other half wanted to ride in waves of consequence.

As a result, big wave enthusiasts took over, and the GOB Super Tour was born. When the world's best riders were competing at Teahupoo in 2000, everyone thought the new format had a bright future ahead. But the 9/11 brought cold investments and, for the surf industry brands, pro bodyboarding was not a priority anymore.

Bodyboarding: Hawaii's Pipeline is one of the favorite stops on the World Tour | Photo: Joao Ricardo/APB

In 2003, the newly-founded International Bodyboarding Association (IBA) launches the IBA World Tour, and a new era arrives: Drop-Knee, Junior and Women's divisions, dual ranking systems, media communications, online broadcast, sponsorship, and new venues.

In 11 seasons, the IBA World Tour crowned six new champions: Jeff Hubbard (2006, 2009 and 2012), Ben Player (2005, 2007 and 2013), Damian King (2003 and 2004), Uri Valadao (2008), Amaury Lavernhe (2010) and Pierre-Louis Costes (2011). Nevertheless, time and a heavy structure forced a new change.

When the organization ran out of funds, riders decided to start from scratch. In 2014, the Association of Professional Bodyboarders (APB) led by Mike Stewart and Alex Leon gave new hope to millions of bodyboarding fans around the world. Is this it?

Professional Bodyboarding | The World Tours

1982-1984: International Morey Boogie Bodyboard Pro Championships
1986-1994: International Morey Boogie Bodyboard Pro Championships
1995-1999: GOB World Tour
2000-2002: GOB Super Tour
2003-2013: IBA World Tour
2014- (...) : APB World Tour