Ten Things I Hate About You.

Ten Things I Hate About You. The “you” being bodyboarders, so that means me, too.

By Dilan Carestia.

Hate is a strong word.

I think we over-use it, water it down.

I mean, sure, I hate war, and I hate thieving pieces of shit.

I too, though, am a little guilty of cheapening the word by using it when I say things like I hate onshore winds and weak coffee (though the later is up for debate).

As for me, I’m a nobody, a washed up never-has-been. My name is Dilan, and I’m a dropknee-ish rider from Sydney’s Maroubra Beach. I help run the Maroubra Bodyboarders club, was a member of Sydney and Tamarama, and was on the board of Bodyboarding NSW before assisting with the merge to be a part of Surfing NSW.

I commentate boogie events, and then also did so for shortboard, longboard and kneeboard events, and working with teams from SNSW, Surfing Australia, APB and the WSL.

I don’t rattle off this resume to blow my own trumpet, but rather to give some context for the upcoming countdown of observations.

I love our little niche sport, I love the little dk “niche-within-a-niche” that I belong to, and I love the global family of mates it has created of people who get a kick out of riding a well crafted rectangle of packing foam.

However, for too long bodyboarding has whinged that surfing learnt so much from bodyboarding, things like some of the heavy wave discoveries, to moves above the lip like the ARS.

That said, you can not deny that one activity is booming while the other leaves balding and greying heads scratching in the carpark. From what I’ve seen, here’s a selection of ways that bodyboarding can benefit from what our fellow fibreglass friends are doing.

10. The top sponsored bodyboarders are rarely a part of their local club anymore.

One of the most prestigious team events is the ABB, or Australian Boardrider Battle. Shortboard clubs from around Oz (more than 60 in total) put together their teams, and fight it out through 8 qualifying rounds to then see who will take spot of top club at the final in Newcastle.

In 2018, the winning club was Culburra, made up with riders such as WSL CT weapons Mikey and Tyler Wright, amongst others. They were far from being the only team with pro riders, in fact almost every club had a household name on their team, such as the likes of Parko. Top surfers keep a loyalty to their local club, and are members of it, even if they can hardly make it to a club event all year while on tour. Those riders then give the younger ones something to look up to, to aim towards, to replicate.

It’d be interesting to see what percentage of the top bodyboarders, whether they make their careers from free-surfing or not, are signed up as members of their local club? I know a few are – Lily Pollard actually joined our Maroubra Club and worked her guts off to sign up more girls and groms, and showed up as much as possible, and I know she ain’t the only one. Aussie tour troopers Liam Lucas and Michael Perrin just returned to the club too. But if every rider who had a sponsorship of some type was encouraged to join their club, as a condition of being sponsored, I think we’d see a change in numbers.

Not to mention it was probably riding in that club that helped get them sponsored in the first place. Just saying – if I owed a brand and was blowing my own cash on giving away product, I’d definitely have an agreement that the recipient stayed a member of their local club.

9. Bodyboarders dropping in on surfers or surfing in a surf comp area.

Generally speaking, things are pretty good these days between surfers and bodyboogers. A lot of top guys travel, surf and shoot together, with surfers like Chippa Wilson, Dion Agius and others assisting in the boom of popularity for Drag.

Maroubra was pretty well known for its “anti boog” culture, but in the twelve and a bit seasons we have run, we could pretty much count on one hand the times we’ve had problems with interfering surfers. It kills me when I then see the hard work of so many people just turned to dust every time a completely unprovoked bodyboarder drops in on a surfer. Worse yet, does it in a surfing comp.

I was invited to commentate a grom surfing comp at Curl Curl last year, with kids from Under 16’s right down to Under 8’s. While the older free surfers paddled around the point or down the beach, I had to repeatedly ask one bodyboarder to move from this event area, as over 100 mums and dads looked on from the beach with disgust. The young guy did come in, proning through the Under 10 girls, with his single finger salute aimed at me in the commentator tent. I went and had a chat to him, to briefly say that I was a bodyboarder and that he needed to grow up, and that if those stickers on his board were from sponsors I’d hate to tell the brand owners the bad press they just got.

I get pissed off every time that happens.

I bet those 100 parents and groms weren’t frothing. Also, the work crew he fingered? They were down at Kiama before dawn each day setting up the Boogie World Tour event a few months later for Mike Stewart and co.

I’m all for standing your ground and not getting pushed around when the reverse happens, but otherwise, you’re helping nobody.

8. There’s a shortage of grom comps.

Having strong clubs is essential. It’s where people form friendships, networks, polish their skills, and it’s where it all begins.

In surfing, however, there’s a pretty full calendar of events all year long, with a very well defined pathway for kids who want to make it their life. What’s more, these kid events hold some of the greatest bargaining currency out of any surf comp.

When adults or older teens go to a comp, they often sleep with mates or in their car. Most of their economic impact on a town happens through sinking piss at the local bowlo. When you have an event similar to the previously mentioned surfer grom comp, those 50-100 kids all arrive with their families, the family travels together, stays in motels or camp grounds, eats together, and so on. They make it a family holiday.

These grom comps are fun, they’re exciting for the kids, and they feel like they are part of something big. Kelly Slater once said surfing is like the mob, that once you’re in, it’s for life.

Kid-only comps makes groms feel that from the start. Bodyboarding needs more of that.

At a club level, I read results, and it’s the same older names enrolling in Opens, DK, Masters, Grand Masters – and so the kid that surfed one heat in the morning is then meant to hang with old dudes all day to judge them. That ain’t cool for a 14yr old.

It should be the other way around. Surf your one heat as a senior statesman. It’s not really about us at this point. If you’re then surfing more heats than you judged, and majority of heats had nobody under 25, take a step back and ask how the hell is our “sport” going to grow.

To be coninued….tomorrow.

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