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It’s been great to see Jay Reale back in the commentary booth at the Maldives Pro after a 9 year hiatus. An absolute legend of the sport, Jay is one of the most accomplished bodyboarders from competing to owning eBodyboarding one of the worlds largest bodyboard stores. We caught up with Jay whilst he’s out in the Maldives to see how it’s going and what he’s got planned when the competition ends.
BBH: How you keeping Jay? It’s great to see you back in the commentators booth!
JR: I’m doing really well, thanks! This year has been filled with travel for me and my family, which makes me happy! This IBC World Tour gig has been fantastic as I love being behind the mic and have really enjoyed reconnecting with a lifestyle that I enjoyed during my own pro career, but without the pressure of competing!
BBH: We’re speaking to you on day 4 of the competition. How did the opportunity come about to head on over to the Maldives?
JR: Kind of a roundabout way actually. There is a girl named Bego Martinez from Chile that is in charge of the commentary and live streams at the IBC events, and she has interviewed me in the past for an online show she does, but apparently a bodyboarding “historian” by the name of Ernesto from Argentina suggested she hit me up to commentate an event based on me having done commentary for many years on TV for the Pipeline events.
She originally invited me to Antofogasta for that event back in May, but my schedule didn’t permit it. Then, I got a message from her back in early June offering me this gig in the Maldives. Pretty tough to pass that one up, even though it’s in the midst of our busy season at work. Thanks to my wife Vicki for giving me her blessing to come here.
BBH: It’s a while since your days commentating on ESPN and Fox Sports. When was the last time you hit the booth?
JR: It’s been 9 years! I did the Rio Bodyboard Pro livestream back in 2013 with Steve Jackson. I love doing commentary, so I sort of hoped that one day I could return to it, but didn’t want to be pushy and ask.
BBH: Are there any plans for you to commentate at any other IBC events?
JR: Remains to be seen. I think the IBC is stoked on the response so far and I feel like our commentary team is developing a good chemistry. We’ll see! I’m really comfortable doing it.
BBH: Has Vicki and the family traveled over with you too or are you riding solo?
JR: This one is a solo mission. My daughter starts university in Hawaii in 2 weeks and my son starts high school, and we are short-staffed at eBodyboarding.com right now in the midst of our busiest time of year, so unfortunately, Vicki couldn’t join and is working her butt off to cover for me. She actually tried hard literally 24 hours prior to my departure to pull off a last-minute miracle to accompany me and compete in this event, but there were too many obstacles.
BBH: So you’ve left them keep eBodyboarding ticking over. How is the business doing?
JR: eBodyboarding.com is alive and thriving after over 23 1/2 years. There is a new segment of customers we call “board agains” comprised of “older” bodyboarders returning to the sport, thanks to Covid, or in some cases, middle-aged guys just wanting to try to recapture their youth, lose weight, or get in the water with their own kids.
BBH: Are there any exciting new products this year worth mentioning?
JR: We have our own line of products called “Tribe” and we’re always trying to innovate within our product line. Our board socks have a tail protector (instead of a nose protector like most board socks) since most people stand their boards on the tail. We also have some innovative board bags including a really cool Double Roller bag, and my Reale Deal model 4.0, coming this fall has some unique construction that you’ll have to wait for to see.
BBH: What are your plans for after the event?
JR: We’ve been stuck here in Male City since I’ve had some event commitments every day I’ve been here, but some of the event staff are talking about hiring a boat to drop us off at one of the epic spots up the island chain just a bit. We’ll only have a day or two to make that happen as the event takes 6 full days to run.
Beyond that, upon returning from here, I’ll be home for a little while. I “might” be going to Cabo (Mexico) in early September, but for sure will be doing another Texas Tube Tour, our Waco Surf wave pool trip in early October. This will be the 4th time we’ve taken a group there, and it’s 2 days of absolute fun and games! Everyone gets barreled, and everyone has a blast!
More travel plans ahead for the winter of 2022/23 including our annual BB Holidays El Salvador trip, which all started as an anniversary gift for Vicki a few years back and has now grown into a regular thing!
BBH: Our trips together are always a highlight on the calendar and El Salvador is fast approaching. Explain to those unaware what to expect on the trip.
JR: Anyone coming can expect an epic tropical getaway where no wetsuits are needed, and balmy breezes and swaying palm trees accompany sunset libations after a long day of super-fun waves! Rob and crew are top-notch at getting folks into appropriate waves for their ability level and then coaching them through the process no matter what their level. Vicki and I are there for moral support and are unofficial stoke ambassadors. The locals there are super-welcoming. and many of them meet up with us year after year. It’s a great getaway in the depths of the northern winter and a super-easy trip particularly from the USA!
BBH: We’ve recently added Tavarua to the calendar, it’s going to be such an epic trip. What makes this destination so special and different to any other?
JR: I could write a book about this topic! Tavi is one of the most special places on earth and once you go, you become part of the Tavarua Family. I’m not a spiritual person, but after my first trip there, I felt spiritually connected to that place. I call it “Tavi Magic” and every guest we’ve taken there feels it. There are actual tears flowing on departure date!
It has everything you could want in a surf trip! You’ll have to come with us to know what I’m talking about, but I do want to point out that some people are intimidated after hearing about and seeing videos of giant Cloudbreak, Tavarua’s most famous spot, but there are 6-7 other really fun spots that offer a diverse range of waves for all abilities.
BBH: Well Jay it’s been great catching up. You’re doing a fine job out in the Maldives, a true ambassador of the sport. Can’t wait to get some waves together soon in El Salvador. Is there anything else you would like to say?
JR: Thanks for the kind words about the Maldives event! Totally stoked on what BB Holidays is doing, and has been doing for nearly 2 decades. It’s easy for me to point folks in the direction of BB Holidays when they want to travel with like-minded bodyboarders because you guys are the experts and have been since Day One. We’re really happy to add our Tavarua trip to the portfolio of dream destinations in partnership with BB Holidays, and look forward to joining some new faces in the water soon!
Thanks for the interview!
If you would like to catch up with Jay and spend some time in the water with the bodyboard legend himself, then check out our two trips below.
Bodyboard Holidays58 Fore StreetNewquayCornwallTR7 1LW
UK: 01637 879571Int: +44 1637 879571