Bodyboarding

Bodyboarding is one of the most accessible surf sports. It’s a fantastically fun way to enjoy the waves, but can be dangerous if you’re not properly prepared. Check out our expert advice and safety tips.
Bodyboarding on a large wave

Photo: Shutterstock / Cassiede Alain

Understand the risks and bodyboard safely

British and Irish waters are incredibly unpredictable and one of the biggest dangers with bodyboarding is surfing outside of the red and yellow flag lifeguarded area, outside of lifeguard hours. 

RNLI lifeboat crews launched 28 times to bodyboarders in trouble in 2015. In addition, RNLI lifeguards went to the rescue in 883 bodyboarding related incidents. Over half of these incidents involved people caught in rip currents

Taking some simple steps to stay safe will reduce your chances of getting into trouble and help you get the most out of the sport you love.

Seven simple checks for safe boadyboarding

  • Always bodyboard between the red and yellow flags. It’s easy to be caught out in the sea.
  • Wear your leash and hold onto your board if you get into trouble - it will help you float.
  • Bodyboard with a mate, especially in big swell. Look out for one another.
  • Remember to check your equipment for damage before use.
  • Check the local forecast for wind, tide and swell. Don’t go on the water in conditions above your capability.
  • Consider other water users.
  • Follow safety advice from the lifeguards, Surfing Great Britain and the British Bodyboard Club.

You’ll need the following kit to get started: 

Boards

When selecting a board you need to consider your height, weight and ability. When starting out, a soft foam board is ideal as it is thick and wide, making it easier to float, paddle and catch waves.

Leash

Always wear one, normally around the wrist or bicep, so you don't lose your board if you fall off!

Wax

Apply this to the deck of your board to give you grip.

Fins

These are vital when bodyboarding to help you catch waves and swim against strong currents.

Bodyboarding safety: Useful links and resources

  • Surfing Great Britain logo

    Safety advice

    Surfing Great Britain
  • British Bodyboard Club logo

    Safety advice

    British Bodyboard Club
  • RNLI Lifeguard and sponsored surfer Mark Harris (Egor) surfing at Fistral Beach, Newquay

    Download PDF 2.31MB - English version

    In the surf: your guide to surfsport safety
  • RNLI Lifeguard and sponsored surfer Mark Harris (Egor) surfing at Fistral Beach, Newquay

    Download PDF 2.94MB

    In the surf: your guide to surfsport safety

Figures are taken from:

  • The National Water Safety Forum's Water Incident Database (WAID) 2011-15.
  • RNLI 2015 incident data.

Don't be a statistic

28 Lifeboat launches to bodyboarders in 2015

883 Bodyboarding incidents attended by lifeguards in 2015