Handplaning: discover a new form of bodysurfing | Photo: Compass Handplanes

Having recently stumbled across a handful of videos of people riding waves with ease with nothing more than something strapped to their hand, we figured a handplane could be a potential addition to our quivers.

You know, for those days where it isn't pumping. However, what started as a backup to surfing, handplaning soon became our new reason for hitting the water.

Bodysurfing has been quite recently been popularized, becoming the focus of Keith Malloy's awe-inspiring "Come Hell or High Water" documentary, this alternative form of wave riding surfing subculture harnesses the ocean's energy as you intimately ride the surf it spits out.

This stripped back form of wave riding embraces simplicity and helps connect you with the purest stoke.

Handplaning, an upgrade to bodysurfing, ensures you can get even more out of your surf sessions by providing longer cleaner rides, allowing you to stick to your line easier, change direction effortlessly and even attempt a barrel roll when you're feeling confident.

More than anything else though, it's immensely good fun. Free from being tethered to a bodyboard or surfboard and without the added stresses involved in picking and sticking the perfect wave, handplaning allows you to experience a surf like never before.

Handplanes: get barreled in bodysurfing mode | Photo: Compass Handplanes

What was previously just a barely known pastime - til now predominantly isolated to surfing's infamous Hawaiian and Polynesian history spots - is now fast becoming a legitimate water sport making room for itself on surfing's world stage.

With the World Bodysurfing Championships just gone, and the first annual UK Bodysurfing Championships arriving in Newquay, momentum is certainly with the bodysurfing fraternity.

With paipos, alaias and now handplanes increasingly taking their spot on most surf shops shelves an "alternative wave sliding culture" grows in stature.

The accessibility of the sport is its beauty, meaning picking up handplaning couldn't be quicker or simpler. It doesn't matter if you have experience from surfing or bodyboarding or if handplaning is your reason for getting in the water.

Paddling in front of a peaking wave with a handboard out in front of you is all you need to do to get yourself flying down its face and soon hurtling through your first tube ride.

Something everyone dreams about, but few actually experience. And it doesn't take much more explaining than that. All you need is a handplane and a pair of swim fins.

Handplaning: use your body to surf any wave | Photo: Compass Handplanes

When you find a wave coming your way just stretch your body out in a superman like position, your handplane on your leading hand, kick like mad and as the wave reaches your feet you'll feel it lift you up, and now you're bodysurfing.

But don't stop kicking, pick your line by positioning your leading hand and ride the section until, if you're lucky, that wall of water will barrel over you - wrapping you up within.

Push your handpboard into the surface of the water and feel it talk back to you as it lifts you further out of the water. Hey, presto! You've just experienced handplaning. Now swim back out there and do it all again.

As all surfers know, not all spots contain a perfect right-hander that works all year round, and that conditions are about as consistent as they are variable.

The most satisfying thing about handplaning is that even on those blown-out choppy days, or those pancake-flat lifeless days, you'll still manage to find yourself riding a wave when most others around you aren't.

So now you can see why having a handplane in your quiver isn't just a good idea, it's a necessity. But next time it's charging out there, just be careful: without knowing you might find yourself reaching for your handplane before anything else.


Words by Compass Handplanes.