By Dan Dobbin.
“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months”.So said Irish playwright Oscar Wilde. Wilde was know for his wit and flamboyance, back when calling someone flamboyant was code for acknowledging their homosexuality.
It’s the often unacknowledged dynamic that the entire premise of companies sponsoring “Professional” riders is built on the idea of trying to persuade the average joe to buy their gear because the pro looks cool using it, and by proxy you’ll feel cool wearing it too.As such we’re going after the shallowest of topics here and taking a parade through the best “looks” ( equipment combinations) from the 50 odd years of booging history.
O.G. repping.Ahhh the 80’s.It’s the decade of decadence. G
ordo Gecko decrees greed is good. The US of A is the hub of global culture shaping and nothing is cooler than surf culture in the US of A.
Your shorts are groin crushingly tight and bright, your rashvest is neon. The board under your guts; a Mach 7-7 of course. A yellow and black, or yellow, black and orange number depending on how deep into the decade your going to venture. Whichever your rocking the colour scheme spells fun.
Swaddling your feet are the Polynesian diver inspired, one time army frogmen appropriated, dolphin tail shapened flippers by Owen Churchill, creatively named Churchill’s.
The classics never die.
Both your board and fins are manufactured in the United States’s origin cheap labour and lax worker regulations and safety borough of Mexico.
There’s a new sheriff in town.
Kurt fucking Cobain.
It’s the 90’s.
Grunge, kicks open the mainstream door to skate punk. You have shoulder length hair or buzz cut. You’re in flanalette emulating the rockers from the Seattle scene, or rocking baggy pants, ankle high socks and skate shoes and a Pennywise shirt.
The Rider’s of Tubes (R.O.T.) vids play on loop on your screen, and the bands from their soundtrack on loop in your car.The R.O.T vids also introduce you to a new board brand called Toobs, who also have the freshest team. Paul Roach, Kyle Maligro, Ross McBride, Chris Wonton, Manny V and an up and comer named Jeff Hubbard who looks like he may have a future in the game.
There boards colourways are eclectic. While the Morey Boogie’s of yore were pretty much standard across models, Toobs seem to slap any ol’ rail, tail and bottom combo together and send ’em out the door. Perfectly disheveled, contrivedly uncaring, and that’s punk as fuck.
The American influence has also popped some yellow dots on your flops. Viper fins, made popular by the bodysurfing crew at Ventura county’s bonecrushing Wedge have infiltrated the boog scene and are now the hottest twin cylinder propulsion system around.
Mysteriously, a small wetsuit brand from Australia’s Gold Coast has become the must have for aquatic outerwear. Much like the instantly recognizable Superman logo, Aleeda wetties sport a prominent ” A” on the chest of their suits and nothing, but nothing, looks cooler at this point in time.
Ryan Hardy sells a billion yellow boards.
Just months after the Y2K bug had failed to destroy everyone’s computer systems and plunge the globe into a spasm of financial and political chaos because suddenly it would be 1900 again, Ryan Hardy did a spinner. Inside an 8ft chopes pit. To defeat Mike Stewart and Guilherme Tamega. At the biggest contest in the world.Following up with the release of the seminal biopic ” The Hardlyfe” in 2001, Yellow decked, blue railed boards like Hardy was redefining bodyboarding performance on, coupled with his perfectly crossed blue and yellow Churchills became the standard want for bodyboarders worldwide.
Red, blue, black, line green, military green, pink, purple, white, magenta, topaze, mummy brown, sarcoline. No other colour but yellow will do.
Dressed in your new No Friends shirt and shin swinging denim jean shorts, you load all of your old boards into your Ford Laser hatchback, flog them off at Cash Converters and then high tail it straight to Bodyboarders Surf Co. to grab your new lemon spread.
However, due to the universal group think that has infected the boogieverse, the only sled left in the affore mentioned colour of desire is a Manta Typoon with HDPE slick, but sometimes you have to suffer for your fashion. Sure, your performance and enjoyment will suffer, but you’ll look just like Ryan, and that’s what really matter.
Top all this of with a Billabong Occilator wetsuit and you’ll feel like the bell of the ball at your local break, just like everyone else.
I’m sad, and unhappy.
Remember when calling someone an “Emo” was an insult?
Man the mid to late naughties were a weird time in the boogieverse.
Skiiiiny jeans, small pants, tight black screamcore band T’s, floppy sweeping fringes, D.I.Y. tattoos. Everyone thinking they were some kind of misunderstood struggling artist or musician.
When you finally did drag yourself away from the backyard hardcore shows every boy and his dog was throwing and decide to get wet, you had the smallest, straightest, black board you could secure. Black wetty too. And black fins to match your dyed black hair.
Unless you were repping a Zebra stripped wetty.
It’s the peak of the peak in the peak period of competitive bodyboarding. Your black slick has been replaced by something bright and flashy.
The reason? The crazier the slick colour the more notable it will hopefully be to the judging cadre on the APB tour. That extra colour “pop” might subconsciously garner a competitor an extra 0.5 points and an advancement into the next round if you’re a Pro competing at the highest level.
Your favourite Pro model boards started featuring bright yellow, green or pink posteriers.
Elaborate and largely useless deck contours also make an appearance, adding an extra $50 to the price of your board for something that looks asthetically cool, but doesn’t do much.
Access to the mythical Malaysian mould meant that for a small fee Churchill knock offs in all the colours of the rainbow are now accessible, and coordinating your fin colours with your poly pony became a must.
The Now.📷 Tharin Rosa
After a little run of throwing back to classic colourways to try to seduce the born again’s in the Vintage Bodyboard gaggle to spend their hard earned on an actual new board rather than an ski jump masquerading as a board, things are looking bright again.
Hubb’s Hubboard boards should come with an epileptic seizure warning, while other companies are floating combinations of blacks, blues, greens, pinks purples and oranges around in seemingly random order.
On the fin front, there is a slow evolvition into a post Owen Churchill’s Churchill phase, with the sharper bladed, longitudinally striped MS Viper, Air Hubb or Pride’s Vulcan type fins gaining traction.
Bodyboard brands are also expanding back into the wetsuit market with Nymph, Plasma, Nixsa and Gyroll all rolling out quality, environmentally thoughtful suits.
The Future? We’ll update you in ten or so years if climate change, Covid-19, a global technocracy or 5G hasn’t wiped us all out….