How To Ride A Barrel On A Bodyboard


5 top barrel riding tips

  1. Wave selection is key. Study the waves and how they’re breaking to determine the best spot for perfect, barrelling waves.
  2. Stay high on the wave. This keeps you under the barrelling part of the wave and will stop the lip from breaking on you instead of over you, AKA being axed!
  3. Speed management. This will become more important when riding waves of varying size, power and length.
  4. Always keep your eyes on the exit! You’re going to get spat out into the channel!
  5. Watch the undisputed tube master of the world – Mike Stewart who is the best you’ll ever see.

For many, getting barrelled is the ultimate thrill and it’s really not hard to see why. Riding a perfect tubing wave and being completely surrounded by water is an experience simply out of this world. Once you have picked up the basics, you will be completely hooked on hunting down and riding the best barrels you can find.

To the untrained eye, riding a barrel can look simple, but as you’ll find out, it requires a variety of skills and a good understanding of how to read waves.

The team here at Bodyboard Holidays are masters in the art of barrel riding and have spent most their bodyboarding lives scoping out the biggest and most perfect barrels known to mankind. We’ve also helped many aspiring bodyboarders feel the thrill of riding a tube during one of our many barrel infested bodyboard holiday or coaching weekends. There is nothing better than watching a friend getting into and making it out of a barrel, and with the following pointers, we’re sure you’ll be hooked in no time!

Begin by taking some time to watch the waves and study how they’re breaking. Locate a spot where the waves are breaking in a hollow, tubular motion and not closing out. Although you can still get barrelled on a closeout, the real reward comes when you’ve become barrelled and made it out onto the shoulder or in front of the wave.

You’ve picked your spot, now you’ll need to be paddling hard for the waves you think are shaping up nicely into makeable barrels. Paddling hard allows you to get into the wave in good time, whilst generating the speed you’ll need to get through the first section of the barrel.

Once you’ve caught the wave, you’ll need to do the most important thing of the whole barrel riding process, which is to make sure you’re positioned high on the wave face with a tight line (check video @ 0.33). This means you’ll be in the perfect spot (AKA in the pocket) for when the wave’s lip begins to pitch and barrel over you (check video @ 0.36). This is the point your tube time begins!

These steps are worth practising as much as possible. Reading how the wave is going to break and becoming smooth from take off into the first section of the barrelling wave is vital to the rest of the ride and ultimately making the barrel.

Once you have become fluent in dropping into barrelling waves and finding your line within the pocket you can begin to control your speed, which you can use to determine how long you want to be in the barrel. By putting your weight at the back of your bodyboard and digging your legs and fins into the wave, you’ll slow yourself down due to drag you create, which will give you more time in the barrel (check video @ 0.58).

Or, you may want to speed up in a faster breaking wave and to maximise your chances of coming out of the barrel and onto the shoulder of the wave. You can do this by pulling your weight over the nose of the board and releasing your legs and fins from the water, minimising drag and maximising speed (check video @ 1.12). Hold tight and always keep your eyes open, whilst aiming for the top of the barrel when looking to exit!

Once you’ve negotiated your way through the tube and flown out of the exit onto the shoulder, an overwhelming feeling of absolute stoke will fill your body and we’re sure you’ll be heading straight back into the waves for another… and another!

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