The greatest bodyboarders of all time

February 16, 2021 | Bodyboarding
Bodyboarding: a high-performance water sport born in the 1970s | Photo: Jeff Hubbard Archive

They have won world titles and inspired generations of wave riders with their timeless skills and style. Discover the greatest bodyboarders in the history of the sport.

It all started in the 1970s with the invention of the modern bodyboard.

Tom Morey's groundbreaking wave riding vehicle and design created not only a completely new water sport but also a new way of life and career opportunities for thousands of people across the world.

The birth of bodyboarding generated new athletes and businesses, but talent is oftentimes an everlasting asset.

It's an intangible variable that can be easily recognized even by outsiders to the sport.

The following bodyboarders have helped shape modern bodyboarding.

They've clinched world tour titles, invented new maneuvers, recreated the basics of the sport, and influenced hundreds of thousands of bodyboarding fans and participants.

Meet the world's best bodyboarders - a mix of irreverence, creativity, technique, experience, and perpetual style.

Alexandra Rinder

Alexandra Rinder

She is one of the youngest female bodyboarders of the 21st-century generation.

The daughter of an Austrian father and a German mother was born in the Canary Islands, an archipelago with no shortage of challenging waves.

Rinder started bodyboarding at the age of nine, began competing against professional riders by the time she was 12 and won her first of two world titles at 16.

The Canarian powerhouse is difficult to beat in dangerous slabs, fast barreling waves, and challenging ocean conditions.

Date of Birth: 1998
Place of Birth: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
Favorite Wave/Spot: El Frontón (Spain)

 

Amaury Lavernhe

Amaury Lavernhe

Amaury Lavernhe is one of the most well-rounded professional bodyboarders in competitive history.

Whether he's maneuvering on a sloppy, two-foot summer wave or exiting a firing and hollow blue cylinder, the Frenchman is always a force to be reckoned with.

While wearing a jersey, Lavernhe knows about tactics and reads waves like only a few. He won two world titles (2010 and 2014) and also runs the Amaury Academy around the world.

Date of Birth: August 10, 1985
Place of Birth: Poitiers, France
Favorite Wave/Spot: Reunion Island

 

Ayaka Suzuki

Ayaka Suzuki

Ayaka Suzuki is a warrior. She was one of the first Japanese female bodyboarders to make it to the world stage.

Ayaka climbed all the steps of a long ladder from amateur to professional.

Despite all the challenges Suzuki faced to compete at a world-class level, the long path to glory culminated with an unprecedented and historic world title in 2018.

As she put it, "it was an amazing and blessed moment."

Date of Birth: May 22, 1995
Place of Birth: Chigasaki, Japan
Favorite Wave/Spot: Pipeline (Hawaii), Puerto Escondido (Mexico), and Nazaré (Portugal)

 

Claudia Ferrari

Claudia Ferrari

Claudia Ferrari was one of the first women to own and ride a bodyboard in Brazil.

She started riding waves at Guarujá Beach, an hour away from her hometown, São Paulo.

From a competitive perspective, she's done it all. Ferrari won the GOB World Tour in 1995, the Women's Pipeline Pro in 2007, and the USBA Tour in 2008.

She is one of the first female stars of the sport and chose Hawaii to live and breathe bodyboarding.

Date of Birth: N.A.
Place of Birth: São Paulo, Brazil
Favorite Wave/Spot: "Anywhere with uncrowned good waves"

 

Dave Hubbard

Dave Hubbard | Photo: Junior Maosi

Dave Hubbard is the most successful competitive drop-knee bodyboarder in the history of the sport.

The Hawaiian started climbing the competitive ladder as an amateur, claiming state and national titles. At 18, fresh out of high school, he turned pro.

Dave began his professional career as a dual-threat, entering both the men's and drop-knee divisions of all the events he competes in.

His DK career resulted in four Pipeline Pro trophies (2002, 2010, 2014, and 2016) and eight drop-knee world titles (2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016).

Dave's tenure on the men's world tour has landed him in several event finals alongside the best of the best.

Known for his unpredictability and seamless style in both competition and free surf, he is a crowd favorite where ever he goes.

Dave Hubbard is a co-founder of Hubboards.

Date of Birth: June 20, 1982
Place of Birth: Lihue, Hawaii
Favorite Wave/Spot: Pipeline (Hawaii)

 

Guilherme Tâmega

Guilherme Tâmega

For many, Guilherme Tâmega is the best competitive bodyboarder of all time.

With six world titles (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, and 2002) and two gold medals at the ISA World Surfing Games (1996 and 2000), GT's natural talent for riding the boogie is matchless.

Over the years, his name and signature bodyboards gained legendary status. He is the founder of GT Boards.

Tâmega also won the iconic Shark Island Challenge three consecutive times.

Date of Birth: September 3, 1972
Place of Birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

Jay Reale

Jay Reale

Jay Reale is the first-ever pro bodyboarder from the East Coast.

He learned to ride waves in his early teen years on inflatable rafts, switching to a bodyboard when his brother Mitch loaned it to him one day.

Jay began bodyboarding full-time in 1980 at the age of 16 and won the fourth event he ever entered.

After dominating amateur bodyboarding on the East Coast, he moved to California in 1987. During that time, he collected four ESA Championship titles, one Mid-Atlantic Regional Title, and was an ESA All-Star athlete.

In 1986, he was crowned US amateur champion and claimed the Morey Nationals in 1984 and 1986.

Reale competed in the Morey Boogie World Championship at Pipeline for 17 consecutive years. In 2003, he was named one of the top ten wave riding athletes ever to come out of the Eastern Surfing Association.

Jay Reale is the founder of eBodyboarding.com.

Date of Birth: February 12, 1964
Place of Birth: Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Favorite Wave/Spot: Point Mugu (California)

 

Jeff Hubbard

Jeff Hubbard

Jeff Hubbard is an explosive bodyboarder known for his aerial antics and always a fan favorite when it comes to picking favorite all-time competitors.

He's agile, fast, and a prolific wave reader in challenging conditions.

Hubbard won three world titles (2006, 2009, and 2012), five Pipeline Pro events (2003, 2007, 2011, 2012, and 2017), and 11 US national titles.

Jeff is one of the few bodyboarders able to land a 720. He is the co-founder of Hubboards.

Date of Birth: October 21, 1975
Place of Birth: Honolulu, Hawaii
Favorite Wave/Spot: Pipeline (Hawaii)

 

Joana Schenker

Joana Schenker

Joana Schenker is the queen of European bodyboarding.

The talented bodyboarder from Sagres was one of the first female bodyboarders to reach a professional level and Portugal's first world bodyboarding champion (2017).

Schenker won four back-to-back European Tour of Bodyboard (ETB) titles (2014-2017) and seven consecutive national titles (2014-2020).

She's a fierce competitor with above-average wave reading skills.

Date of Birth: October 1, 1987
Place of Birth: Faro, Portugal
Favorite Wave/Spot: Zavial and Beliche (Portugal)

 

Michael Eppelstun

Michael Eppelstun

Michael "Eppo" Eppelstun is an Australian professional bodyboarder who won the International Morey Boogie Bodyboard Pro Championships in 1993.

In winning the event, he became the first Australian and the first non-Hawaiian to win the world title.

"Eppo" developed three revolutionary new moves in the bodyboarding world, which ushered in a whole new gymnastic approach to riding a bodyboard - the ARS (Air Roll Spin), the backflip, and the double roll.

His 1990s rides at Pipeline will always live in the memory of those who witnessed them.

Date of Birth: December 31, 1970
Place of Birth: Parkes, Australia

 

Mike Stewart

Mike Stewart

Mike Stewart is widely considered the greatest and most successful competitive bodyboarder of all time.

The Hawaiian-born athlete, who is also a prolific bodysurfer, is one of the sport's first stars and one of the few to have managed to build a career as a professional bodyboarder, sports event organizer, and businessman.

Stewart is an all-around bodyboarder, and one of the best tube riders on the planet.

Whether he's spinning on the wave face, getting airborne, or exiting a giant and hollow, blue cylinder, Mike is always on top of his game.

At the age of 54, he won the 2017 Urban Research Tahara Pro, in Japan. Two years later, MS took on Shipstern Bluff in thunderous conditions.

Date of Birth: May 17, 1963
Place of Birth: Hawaii
Favorite Wave/Spot: Pipeline (Hawaii)

 

Neymara Carvalho

Neymara Carvalho

Neymara Carvalho is the most successful competitive woman in bodyboarding history.

The Brazilian bodyboarder won five IBA World Tour titles (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009). Carvalho dominated the women's division, both nationally and internationally, for over a decade.

She even won a Brazilian event when she was five months pregnant.

"Neymáquina" is the founder of Instituto Neymara Carvalho, a non-governmental organization that helps underprivileged children through sports.

Date of Birth: April 1, 1976
Place of Birth: Vila Velha, Brazil

 

Pierre-Louis Costes

Pierre-Louis Costes

Pierre-Louis Costes is one of the most popular and influential professional bodyboarders of the 21st century.

Costes started bodyboarding in Morocco before relocating to France, where he fine-tuned his skills in Hossegor.

The French won his first world title aged 21, going into the last event at El Frontón in contention with his idols Jeff Hubbard, Ryan Hardy, and Guilherme Tâmega.

Pierre is one of the finest aerialists in the history of bodyboarding and a backflip expert.

He fulfilled his dream of winning the Pipeline Pro twice (2016 and 2019) but underlines that claiming the 2017 Arica Chilean Challenge after being a father for the first time was also extremely emotional.

Date of Birth: January 25, 1990
Place of Birth: Vichy, France
Favorite Wave/Spot: El Frontón (Spain)

 

Ryan Hardy

Ryan Hardy

Ryan Hardy is one of the legends of Australian bodyboarding.

Although he never clinched a world title, the Margaret River-born rider excelled in the most challenging events and surf breaks.

The master of style won the Tahiti Skins (2000), the iconic Shark Island Challenge (2006 and 2010), the Pipeline Pro (2009), and the Box Pro (2011).

In 2006, he finished runner-up on the IBA World Tour.

Hardy still is one of the most influential bodyboarders in Western Australia and someone who has always put on a show, on and off the competitive scene.

Date of Birth: November 9, 1979
Place of Birth: Margaret River, Australia
Favorite Wave/Spot: North Point (Australia)

 

Sari Ohhara

Sari Ohhara

Sari Ohhara started riding a bodyboard at the age of 11, fell in love with it, and never stopped, despite the earthquakes and tsunamis that hit her country, Japan, in the last couple of decades.

She won four national titles (2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016) before joining the elite of bodyboarding.

Inspired by Ayaka Suzuki's achievement in 2018, Ohhara trained and fought hard to clinch a maiden APB Word Tour title in 2019.

Date of Birth: April 21, 1995
Place of Birth: Tokyo, Japan
Favorite Wave/Spot: Shidashita and Chiba (Japan), Beliche (Portugal), and Ehukai (Hawaii)

Explore the complete list of the world bodyboarding champions.

Andre Botha

Date of Birth: 1991
Place of Birth: Cape Town, South Africa

Ben Player

Date of Birth: August 23, 1978
Place of Birth: Australia

Ben Severson

Date of Birth: August 29, 1964
Place of Birth: Oahu, Hawaii

Damian King

Date of Birth: 1978
Place of Birth: Port Macquarie, Australia

Daniela Freitas

Date of Birth: October 2, 1988
Place of Birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Eunate Aguirre

Date of Birth: May 24, 1982
Place of Birth: Bilbao, Spain

Glenda Kozlowski

Date of Birth: July 9, 1974
Place of Birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Isabela Sousa

Date of Birth: December 15, 1989
Place of Birth: Fortaleza, Brazil

Jacob Romero

Date of Birth: October 1, 1985
Place of Birth: Waihee-Waiehu, Hawaii

Jared Houston

Date of Birth: April 22, 1989
Place of Birth: South Africa

Manuel Centeno

Date of Birth: September 18, 1980
Place of Birth: Porto, Portugal

Mitch Rawlins

Date of Birth: December 13, 1982
Place of Birth: Australia

Pat Caldwell

Date of Birth: May 14, 1962
Place of Birth: California

Rita Pires

Date of Birth: August 24, 1978
Place of Birth: Lisboa, Portugal

Tristan Roberts

Date of Birth: January 31, 1997
Place of Birth: South Africa

Uri Valadao

Date of Birth: April 30, 1985
Place of Birth: Salvador, Brazil

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