Mike Stewart: a bodyboarding legend never gets old | Photo: Pabolinho/Nordeslizamento

Mike Stewart is more than just a brilliant bodyboarder. He is an athlete who reflects on his sport, the ocean, and all the dimensions of life.

The Hawaiian bodyboarding pioneer worked and learned with the iconic Tom Morey, and was one of the first to put the boogie board at test in waves of consequence like Pipeline, Jaws, and Nazaré.

Stewart invented new maneuvers, attracted top-notch sponsors, and put Teahupoo on the surfing map. The introverted prone rider traveled the world and collected multiple world titles in both bodyboarding and bodysurfing.

You could say Mike Stewart is a living encyclopedia because we all learn from his thoughts. The water sports legend taught us how to prolong a successful career in the waves without compromising your body and your family life.

Michael Alexander Stewart fought the stigma that, for over three decades, diminished and even ridiculed bodyboarding. Today, and thanks to his contributions, prone riding is a well-respected sports activity with a growing number of fans and participants across the world.

Take a look at Mike Stewart's most inspiring quotes:


I didn't really like the surfboard as it just wasn't anywhere near as functional.

As I came to explore hollower waves, bodyboarding made more sense. If I'd grown up in Malibu, it probably would have been a totally different deal.

The first time I surfed Pipeline, it was on a completely different level to anything I'd previously experienced.

I didn't believe in spinners. I thought they were weak and lame. But after the International Morey Boogie Bodyboard Pro Championships, I realized I needed to learn them if I was to compete, as most of my moves were based on hard turns and carves.

I have always been ambitious with new moves. But I never liked landing backward.

My first time in the Canary Islands there were guys following me around by bike and hanging around outside the hotel room. I got quite phobic of crowds at that point. It was full on, like being a rock star.

Surf companies were a huge help to us in the early days, but I think I was optimistic to think they would want to get behind bodyboarding further.

I felt I was as capable as anyone to surf Jaws. But no one wanted to pick me up or take me.

Bodyboarding is one facet of a subculture of a sport that is not in the major limelight.

Age is just a number.

Creativity is the art aspect of the sport.

Powerful conditions work best for bodyboarding because it's a vehicle that works best at harnessing and redirecting speed rather than generating it like a surfboard.

Groms are the future and not just of bodyboarding; it's that simple. Bodyboarding might currently not be the most lucrative pass time, but it has to be one of the healthiest in terms of physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

I paddled up over one swell, and all of a sudden it looked like the whole ocean had turned into a wave. It was the biggest wave I had ever seen. I had to take it.

I'll do better if it's super big.

I have a complete love-hate relationship with skis. On one hand, I really despise the fact that they're so smelly, and so loud and so obnoxious in the lineup, and it totally takes away the whole experience you can have out there. On the other side, you gain access to waves in situations you would never be able to experience.

Many core Californians have gone underground, as bodyboarding has such a weird stigma there. It will come around, especially when riders stop believing this myth.

Right now, my whole life is like a vacation.

Under the right conditions, I figure a bodyboarder could ride a wave with a 70-foot face.

Surfers call 70 feet the unrideable zone. When a wave breaks, the top two-thirds pitches forward. A surfer can't drop in fast enough on a 70-foot wave, so he gets pitched out by the lip. But I think a bodyboarder can ride the air and skip out of the way of the lip. I'd love to ride that wave.

The events or heats that have been over ten feet, I've won.

We continue to not get any love from companies outside of the industry. Boogies are a creative, open-minded, resourceful, resilient, tough bunch though, and we will prevail, as we have since the beginning.

You may not agree with another wave rider, but this doesn't mean you have to hate on him.

An unreal experience? I had my dad and my son out at the same time, and that was one of the highlights for me.

To me when you go bodysurfing, it's a way of simplifying everything. It's just you and the wave, and the experience.

Life is a balancing act.

I believe the most important part of your business is the people you surround yourself with.

If I had to pick just one wave, I would have to say Pipe just because of its diversity.

I am a curious person. I am really interested in how things work, why things are the way they are.

Bodyboarding will continue to lead the progressive wave riding frontier.

My accomplishments will be surpassed. And that's cool.

I dreamed about leading a lifestyle that I could spend as much time as I do in the water, but I didn't know it was possible.

I go to the ocean to train; I go to the ocean to compete. More importantly, I go there for sanity and to get grounded again.

When I got into bodyboarding, there was no career. But then again, surfing had no career.

My life revolves around weather patterns, tides, and the surf.

I had a terrifying experience with a shark, but I also came away from the experience with a better understanding and more respect.

 

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