Learn about the parts of a bodyboard and how they are put together.
-Nose: This is the top of the board, where your hands grip while laying on the board.
-Deck: The part you lay on. It covers the entire area from nose to tail and rail to rail.
-Tail: The bottom end of the board.
-Rails: The sides of the board. Sometimes these are expressed as a ratio of the top rail that rolls over from the deck compared to the bottom part. Most bodyboards have 60/40 rails, meaning the bottom makes up 60% of the rail and the top makes up 40%. The theory is that the larger the bottom rail, the more friction, therefore the better the board grips the wave face and turns. If the bottom rail is smaller (ie 50/50 rails), there is less friction/more speed, but you sacrifice a small percentage of the control.
-Bottom (or slick): The underside of the board.
Bodyboards come in many shapes and sizes. They can be broken down into three basic shapes:
-Prone: This shape generally has it's widest point further forward to support the upper body of a rider that mainly lays down while riding.
-Dropknee: A lower wide point, closer to halfway down the board characterizes this template because a rider who practices the dropknee stance will have the bulk of their weight further back on the board. It also facilitates easier turning to have the board's outline taper more toward the nose.
-Versatile/Combo: This shape is a hybrid of the other two. It can work equally effectively in both the prone position and dropknee stance.
The core refers to the internal foam the board is made of. It will determine the flex characteristics of the board as well as the price of the board. Generally, there are three types of cores:
1. EPS: Extruded Polystyrene is the cheapest core. It's very light weight, not very durable and is used on entry-level boards. It dents quite easily and will snap in half if put under stress.
2. Polyethylene (PE): PE core has been used in bodyboard manufacturing since the mid-1970s. It's very durable and has very good "recoil", meaning it springs back nicely when flexed. Performance is very good with this type of core in all but the warmest of water temperatures, but when the water gets warm (75F/23C), it tends to get soft.
3. Polypropylene (PP): Polypro core comes in differing densities. It is a beaded core that looks a lot like EPS, but is much more durable. It is less temperature-sensitive than PE core, so it maintains it's good flex characteristics in all water temperatures. It's also lighter in weight than PE core and also more expensive.
Note: Some boards have "composite" cores, which combine PE with EPS or PP cores.
This is the foam that covers the deck and rails. 99% of the boards on the market have one of two skin types:
1. Polyethylene (PE): Just like the core material of the same name, PE deck and rail skins offer superior performance. The majority of boards use this material.
2. Crosslink: This is a denser, tighter-celled material that has a smooth finish and is a bit harder than PE skin. The downside is that it doesn't have the same "spring" that PE skins have, so it will wrinkle a bit more easily.
-Surlyn: This is the best bottom skin you can currently get on a bodyboard. It's the same polymer plastic that covers most golf balls. It's very resilient and is less prone to creasing than it's cheaper counterpart below.
-HDPE (High density polyethylene): It's tough for most people to tell the difference between HD and Surlyn bottoms. They look and feel the same, but HD bottoms tend to be easier to crease which is why HD-bottom boards are cheaper than Surlyn.
-Stringers: These are graphite or fiberglass rods inserted into most mid-level and high-end boards to prevent them from overflexing. While they do a great job of preventing the boards from flexing too much, they also add weight to the board, so for most riders, one stringer is adequate. If the board is being used in heavy conditions and/or warm water, the board will be more prone to buckling, so two or even three stringers or a stringer combined with mesh (see below) might be a good idea.
-Mesh: This is a plastic mesh that is often laminated between the deck and core and/or the bottom and the core. It provides the board with flex prevention, but distributes the strength throughout the entire boards rather than specifically where the stringer sits inside the board. Often, boards will combine a stringer and mesh for the perfect amount of flex.
-Crescent: The most common and most versatile tail shape. It provides good bite on the wave face and helps keep your body positioned on the board. It's also the preferred tail shape for dropknee/standup riders.
-Bat tail: This tail type comes in a few variations including the delta tail, but in general it provides more surface area in the tail which adds lift and speed, but also makes the board a bit looser, meaning it takes a bit more edge control ability to make the best use of a bat tail.
-Hand bulbs/finger bulbs: These are raised bumps on the top corners of the board (hand bulbs on the deck/finger bulbs on the slick bottom) that enhance your grip on the board by providing a raised surface for your palm or fingertips to "grip" on to.
-Elbow pads/locks: Contouring to provide your elbows a place to sit on the deck that either pads them or holds them in position.
-Hand wells: Subtle depressions on the deck up at the nose where the palms of your hands comfortably sit to provide better grip.
-Hip channels: Subtle depressions on the deck at the tail end where your hips sit to provide hold for your body on the board.
-Bottom channels: Gouged out areas on the bottom end of the board's slick bottom that help funnel water flow off the tail of the board for maximum control and horizontal stability while riding.
This refers to the amount of "flatness" in the board. If you lay the board flat on the ground and can't "rock" the board, it has "flat rocker". All bodyboards taper toward the nose end of the board, but all stock bodyboards generally have flat rocker, which most riders prefer for speed.
In our experience, if the board is exposed to heat, it will develop the dreaded "reverse rocker" where it actually goes convex, causing frequent nose dives, so take great care to keep your board cool at all times when not in the water.