On our recent trip to California, we spoke to former pro bodyboarder and Australian Champion Vicki Reale. She shared her tips with us for helping female bodyboarders get the most out of their time in the water.
Vicki’s top piece of advice? Don’t feel intimidated, just get out there! These top tips will improve your wave riding, build your confidence and help you feel comfortable in the water.
Choose The Right Board
Women don’t have the same upper body strength as men so you’ll need a more flexible board. Most boards on the market are designed for men and feature stringers and double mesh which women don’t generally need. Men tend to be heavier on their boards which women aren’t.
Boards for female riders
If you surf cold water, chances are you don’t even need a polypro or dual core board (more durable and performance based). A lower density board will work just as well.
Vicki designed a board specifically for women. Called ‘The Squaw’ it suits women of all ages and abilities. It features some flex, no stringer, just mesh so it adds a bit of stiffness but will help you to control your speed, make bottom turns, duck dive and adapt to any wave condition.
Size it up
But before you buy a board, make sure it’s the right size. Stand the board on its tail leaning it against your body. The nose should reach your belly button.
Get Some Swim Fins
Bodyboarding without fins is a bit like rowing a boat without any oars. They make a huge difference and you’ll find it a lot easier to catch waves and duck dive. But where do you start and how do you choose the right pair?
Comfort over performance
Don’t cut a cracking session short because of blisters and foot cramp. Make sure you buy something comfortable – you can even sacrifice a bit of performance.
Most fins on the market come in unisex sizes so women often struggle to find fins that fit. Tribe fins suit women and kids as they cater for smaller sizes and have really soft rubber. Alternatively, Dafin swim fins also suit smaller sized feet.
Symmetric fins and cinch socks
Stick to symmetrical fins and shorter blades, especially if you’re not used to wearing fins. This will provide more comfort.
And don’t forget a pair of cinch socks. They’ll protect your feet from blisters and help to keep your feet in your fins. But remember to choose a larger size pair of fins to allow for the extra padding from the socks.
Wear Functional Swimwear
There’s nothing more embarrassing than losing a bikini top or bottoms after a heavy wipeout and flashing the lineup! The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable and self conscious while you’re paddling for waves.
Long-sleeved, one piece swimsuits
They’re the most practical option, especially if you’re surfing in hotter climates. Plus there’s some lovely, stylish options available. Billabong’s Surf Capsule range include some pretty styles and patterns, plus they generally fit shorter women.
But if you’re a cold water dweller, don’t let the bad weather put you off. The days of stiff, inflexible neoprene have long gone and thicker wetsuits no longer mean you can’t move. Invest in a good 5’4 if it’s really cold. You’ll be surprised at the neoprene flexibility and the warmth factor which means there’s no excuse not to get out there!
Don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun. Long sleeved swimsuits will protect your arms in the tropics but don’t forget your face. Choose a zinc-based product that won’t run in your eyes. Stick-based products work really well. Headhunter produce a factor 50, tinted sunscreen that gives your face an added glow when you hit the lineup!
Feel The Fear, But Relax And Go With It!
Imagine you’re out in the surf and suddenly the waves pick up. It’s a lot bigger than you anticipated and you’re scared. What would you do?
Know your limits
We can’t predict what the ocean’s going to do, but having the ability and technique to tackle big waves makes a big difference. Knowing you can physically surf bigger stuff will give you the confidence to deal with any rogue sets that hit that the lineup.
Spend some time building up to bigger waves. Even going out on a bigger day and sitting in the lineup, watching what other riders do and they handle themselves is a valuable learning experience.
Stay in shape
It’s not enough just to go out and bodyboard, especially as a female rider. Keep up a good exercise regime. Again, it’ll give you the confidence to handle the wipeouts. Choose a cardiovascular form of exercise like running to boost your stamina. Do push ups and sit ups to increase your core and upper body strength.
And watch your diet. What you fuel your body with is just as important as exercise!
Relax and breathe
When you wipeout in bigger surf, do a deep duck dive and relax. It’s easier said than done when you’re getting nailed by the sets but if you fight and thrash about, you’ll waste energy, exhaust yourself and potentially start to panic.
By relaxing, you’ll save valuable energy and oxygen. Plus, if you’re physically fit, it’ll give you the confidence to handle the situation.
Build up the ability to ride bigger waves. Start small and work your way up. Push the limits a bit and experience the rush. You’ll feel amazing when you do!
Go On A Bodyboard Holidays Trip
There’s nothing more empowering than sharing the stoke of wave riding with a group of likeminded women. It’ll help you improve plus you’ll make new friends and create memories that last a lifetime.
We run trips all over the world and they’re not just for men. We see women join us year after year and form friendships that extend beyond the holiday. It’s an encouraging vibe in the lineup plus you’ll improve your wave riding, cheer each other on and learn valuable skills and knowledge.
And you’ll catch waves in some incredible parts of the world!
Give it a go and get out there! It may be a male dominated line-up and you’ll feel a little intimidated but just go for it. Guys actually love surfing with women. And if you’re single, it’s a good place to meet people! So you can get waves and men at the same time!
Start planning now! Book your Bodyboard Holidays trip and take your wave riding to the next level!