"TriBBo": the story of bodyboarding in Portugal

July 22, 2021 | Bodyboarding
TriBBo: the genesis of bodyboarding in Portugal and the world

The digital age may have put an end to thousands of newspapers and magazines, but there are still books that surprise us.

"TriBBo: The Genesis of Bodyboarding in Portugal and the World" is a 192-page book written by António Fonseca, co-founder of Vert Magazine.

The crowdfunded project reached its target in just three and a half days of a 30-day window period.

It traces and describes the evolution of the sport throughout the country, the first amateur and professional riders, the contests, the brands, and the stories that helped make bodyboarding so popular in Portugal.

But what's really surprising about this book is the number and quality of photos that were gathered from a time (1980-2000) when digital photography was just a mirage.

These pictures depict not only the Portuguese bodyboarding pioneers but also the international stars that were discovering the European nation and competing in the world circuit.

Actually, the Viana Pro and the Sintra Pro are still the longest-running bodyboard competitions in the world.

Despite being a relatively new sport, bodyboarding already has a rich history fuelled by its rising popularity and easy access to equipment.

TriBBo: a bodyboarding book by António Fonseca

Why Portugal?

Portugal has a long and well-documented tradition of exploring the oceans of the world and unchartered territories.

Due to its geographical location, the sea and maritime-related activities have always been in the DNA of its people.

Interestingly, Europe's first known film of people riding waves was shot somewhere between 1926 and 1927 in Leça da Palmeira, a famous beach break located near Porto, in the north of Portugal.

The historic footage reveals 12 intrepid watermen enjoying the power of whitewater rollers on a stormy day.

They are riding prone on what seem to be bellyboards/alaias.

When Tom Morey planted the seeds for the sport of bodyboarding to grow and conquer the world, Portugal was one of the first nations to embrace it.

One of the first "bodyboards" seen on the Portuguese coastline were white and raw polystyrene planks.

They first appeared in the 1,115 miles (1,794 kilometers) of the Portuguese coastline in the early 1980s.

But they were rapidly replaced by the first proper bodyboards shaped and manufactured mainly in California, Hawaii, and Australia.

And when the sport picked up a growing number of enthusiasts, there was no turning back.

TriBBo: 192 pages of bodyboarding history illustrated by dozens of iconic photos

Glorious and Historical Pictures

"TriBBo" makes an effort to gather the pieces of the puzzle and provides valid information about the sport's growth in Portugal's most popular bodyboarding breaks.

The book focuses on the following spots: Carcavelos, São João do Estoril, Paço d'Arcos, Costa de Caparica, Ericeira, Peniche, Porto, Espinho, Póvoa de Varzim, Aveiro, Viana do Castelo, Vila Praia de Âncora, Figueira da Foz, Nazaré, São Pedro de Moel, Foz do Arelho, Santa Cruz, Oeste, Sintra, Alentejo, Zambujeira do Mar, Sagres, Algarve, Açores, and Madeira.

The hardcover book also updates some of the details and history that had already been poured into Owen Pye's "Born To Boogie: Legends of Bodyboarding."

But it's at a national level that "TriBBo" really shines.

Fonseca was able to balance his knowledge and experience of Portuguese bodyboarding with the right pictures to illustrate his words.

His contacts within the community have certainly granted him access to several extraordinarily rich personal archives.

Despite being targeted at a Portuguese-speaking audience, "TriBBo" is a fundamental book in the history of bodyboarding.

And it is not something you can enjoy on a smartphone or tablet.

You've got to hold it, feel it, and appreciate the large colorful photos in all their splendor - you'll certainly get back to it in ten years' time.

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