Bodyboarding: the oldest form of surfcraft riding | Photo: Nunes/Red Bull

Bodyboarding is the art of riding waves in a prone position close to the surface of the ocean water.

According to surf historians, the water sport has its roots in the islands of the Pacific. The Polynesians were the first to slide across ocean waves, lying on paipo boards.

The ancient practice of catching waves and riding prone later evolved to stand-up wave riding, which could very well mean that the origins of bodyboarding are older than those of surfing.

Bodyboarding is performed using a soft, square-nosed, flexible board ranging between 33'' and 46''.

Riders wear swim fins that help propel them into the waves.

Bodyboarding: bodyboarders have access to waves that surfers that don't suit surfer | Photo: Shutterstock

Invented in California

The bodyboard, also known as boogie board or belly board, was invented by Tom Morey in July 1971 in Southern California.

The Detroit-born inventor wanted to surf but only had a foam blank - a rectangular piece of stoke.

The engineer-musician-surfer-shaper cut a nine-foot piece of polyethylene foam in half, put a sheet of newspaper down on the foam, and ironed out the first shape.

Morey rode the first-ever bodyboard type of wave at Honls. His wife, Marchia, was the second person to experiment with what would become a global success story.

"I could actually feel the wave through the board. On a surfboard, you're not feeling every nuance of the wave, but with my creation, I could feel everything," Morey said of his revolutionary invention.

"I was thinking, 'it turns, it's durable, it can be made cheaply, it's lightweight, it's safe. God, this could be a really big thing!'"

Morey Boogie became an iconic brand and a synonym for bodyboard.

The world's first bodyboarding company survived the ups and downs of the surf industry and is still alive and marketing new models. 

Bodyboarding: riding the barrel at Pipeline | Photo: APB

Affordable and High-Performance

Bodyboards have evolved significantly since 1971.

Today, a boogie board is a complex amalgam of high-performance materials and contemporary and functional designs.

The most common bodyboard cores are polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), and extruded polystyrene (EPS). Nevertheless, high-end bodyboard models only feature PP and PE core structures.

One advantage of bodyboarding over its older brother surfing is that bodyboarders can access waves that surfers cannot ride, especially shore breaks and super hollow, fast-breaking waves.

But there's more.

Bodyboards are quite affordable and less expensive than surfboards. It is also relatively easy and quick to enjoy the sport in tropical or cold water waves.

The first professional bodyboarding competition was the 1979 Morey/Gap Pro.

The event was held in Huntington Beach, California, and since then, the wave sport has never stopped conquering the hearts of kids and grown-ups.

Although it is widely recognized as a prone wave riding sport, bodyboarding has two other popular disciplines - drop-knee and stand-up.

The hottest tricks and maneuvers are the 360, the el rollo, the invert, the ARS (air roll spin), the backflip, and tube riding.

The undisputed greatest bodyboarder of all time is Mike Stewart, who has nine world titles and a career spanning four decades.

Despite being despised by surfers for decades, bodyboarding is today one of the most popular and accessible boardsports in the world, with a dozen brands controlling the majority of the market.

The International Bodyboarding Corporation (IBC) runs the sport's professional circuit.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of

Top Stories

Pedro Levi is on a mission to ride the biggest wave of all time on a bodyboard.

Pierre-Louis Costes and Morey Bodyboards signed a partnership and sponsorship deal. The French will ride for the American boogie board company.

The renaissance of the Morey Boogie brand is underway.