El rollo: bodyboarding's fundamental maneuver | Photo: Tony D'Andrea

The el rollo (the roll, in English) was invented and first performed by Pat Caldwell, a professional bodyboarder who competed at the highest level in the 1980s and 1990s.

Caldwell was born in California on May 4, 1962. At only 12, he got his first Morey Boogie board and started competing in Hawaii.

Pat loved to try new things. And in the first couple of years, he began rotating the bodyboard off the top of the lip.

When he hit 16, he finally landed it in a Hawaiian lineup.

Initially, Pat Caldwell wanted to name it "the three-dimensional 360," but Jack Lindholm laughed and later asked: "Hey Pat, what do you call that thing, the 'el rollo'?" The truth is that the young Caldwell liked it, and the name stuck.

In contemporary bodyboarding, the el rollo is a fundamental maneuver in the sport's vast collection of tricks.

If you can't complete and land the el rollo, you can hardly say you're an accomplished bodyboarder. In fact, Caldwell's invention is at the heart of bodyboarding.

In a perfectly executed el rollo, the bodyboarder hits the lip (or the closing section of a wave), uses its momentum to perform a complete rotation/arc, and lands on the wave face (or in the white water).

El Rollo 101

Learn how to land your first el rollo:

  1. Take off on a good-looking wave;
  2. Look down the line and identify a breaking lip/section;
  3. Do the bottom-turn and find a high line;
  4. Move your body forward to gain speed;
  5. Eye your pitching lip;
  6. Get a good grip on your bodyboard;
  7. Hit the lip and throw your head over your shoulder;
  8. Look through the turn;
  9. Let the wave's power rotate/spin your body and board;
  10. Get the nose of the board pointing towards the beach;
  11. Hold on to your board;
  12. Get your weight back on the inside rail;
  13. Bend your arms and land the el rollo;
  14. Ride out;

Avoid breaking through the lip, as it is one of the most frequent mistakes when trying to land the trick for the first time.

And did you that there are several el rollo variations? After mastering the art of landing flawless rolls, you can move on and try the air roll and the take-off roll.

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