So, it was summer! After repeatedly procrastinating on our trip to Gokarna, my friends and I finally made peace with the date 1st of April. But I had committed to fulfilling a few EMI’s and was short on budget for this trip already, so renting a surfboard wasn’t an option. I was like “ you can’t go to the coast and not surf the waves!”. There had to be another solution. That's when I accidentally stumbled upon this budget option : Bodyboard!

I’ve been a swimmer since I was 2 ½ years old. I never really wanted to swim, I was a baby back when my Dad decided to take off my safety harness and toss me in the deep for unknown reasons!

It’s been 22 years since that day, and swimming has become a part of my life, from fitness/fun to competing in districts, States, and Nationals it’s been quite a journey. This particular lifestyle of mine had me cribbing about why Bangalore wasn't a coast

The Need for Watersports

Every Bangalorean out there would have felt the pain of being stuck in the center of the Indian peninsula and not being able to feel those waves daily. Be it with friends or family you’d all have at least dreamt of packing a surfboard on top of your SUV and hitting the highways dreaming of the bright sun and sandy beaches when you reach your destination. I am one of this lot of people, complaining why aren’t we close to the beaches. Until one day I stood up and decided to plan this trip to the beaches. 

Like every other salaried human in Bangalore who is at the start of his career, I had budget constraints and really big dreams. I remember last November having driven to Pondicherry, we had failed to do anything productive. I had big regrets for not being able to surf the waves in Pondi.

But this time I had made up my mind, we will not leave until we surf those waves to our heart's content!. But the question remained as to where we were heading this time.

After googling and consulting my friend I came across Gokarna, and I was blown away from the reviews this town had! Calm beaches to amazing resorts and shacks at budget-friendly prices with a beach view. We picked a resort called Namaste Samudra, where once I got out of my room I was able to soak my feet in the wet sands of Gokarna Beach. 

With the plan set, my friend and I would have normally driven to the destination but this time it was a 10-hour journey. And we didn’t want to drive all the way only to sleep in the name of rest! This time we were pumped up, and this time we didn't want to waste even a single second doing something else apart from enjoying those blue waters and soft sands of the beaches in Gokarna! So we decided to take the bus so that we could sleep during the journey and be wide awake once we got to the beaches. It was decided and we had started to pack our bags. We like to pre-plan everything before we go on trips and the first thing I looked up was “Surfboard Rentals'', many sites had opened up and I found out that the prices were starting at rupees 700 for every 2 hours. The first thing that crossed my mind was, what if I wanted to surf again in between the 3 days that I had planned to stay, It’d cost me 700 bucks more. Not the best option I assume. I spent a whole sleepless night thinking what to do, and like any other idiot I set out the next day to buy a surfboard, thinking it’ll be useful in the long-term scenario. 

How I stumbled upon a bodyboard

So I headed towards Decathlon Anubhava, they had every range of surfboards available in Bangalore. I was excited until I saw the prices and realized that my whole trip was costing less than the surfboard itself. Depression was about to set in, but then I stumbled upon this product, Bodyboard. 2 things caught my attention,

  1. First was this image

I saw this image on the cover of the Bodyboard. Crazy isn't it? I was like wait, this tiny Bodyboard can make you surf the waves? I had my doubts, but they wouldn't promise you something if they can’t deliver right? All these questions but then. 

  1. The second thing that caught my eyes was this :

The price TAG. for the right size for me and my friend, it cost just 3,199/-. I immediately compared that to a decent surfboard for my size which you put me down at least 17,999/- this was an absolute bargain. I had a wide smile on my face!. Despite all the questions I had in my mind on whether this product would be able to deliver better than I expected and most importantly substitute a surfboard? Well, I had to buy it and try it to answer all my questions. And it happens,

The Journey to Gokarna & Bodyboarding

I finally got my first Bodyboard, the adrenaline rush was real. I called up my friend and told him he was in for a surprise. While I was packing I came to realize that the Bodyboard had made my trip even better in many other ways, hauling a surfboard in a bus would have been a funny experience or hectic. The Bodyboard had made my life 10 times easier by being a smaller package and weighing so little. Well, it even fits inside the ola I had booked to go till Anand Rao circle to board my bus! I got out of the car, much to my friend's surprise he flipped when he saw the bodyboard, not because he was intrigued but more disappointed. He asked, “are you sure?” I was like why not. It’s always worth a try, isn't it? Yeah, we both wanted to surf but thought we were settling down for something less fun. But who knew?

We first planned to store the Bodyboard in the boot of the bus, but we were denied by the bus keeper as he was worried the product might get damaged.  We went in and looked around and were not disappointed that the Bodyboard was small enough to fit in below our dedicated seats After a rocky bus ride we got off at the bus stop and took an auto-rickshaw till Namaste Samudra, like the majority of Indians do, we stuffed in 4 people along with the Bodyboard we all fit quite well into the Auto rickshaw. 

We got off at the resort Namaste Samudra, much to our excitement the rooms were right next to the beaches. Knowing that we will be spending the next three days listening to the sea and soaking in the sun gave us goosebumps. So we all got prepped up with applied layers of sunscreen and ran towards the waves. 

Honestly, I hadn't looked up any tutorials for bodyboarding, a little too much overconfidence that had come from the picture that I saw on the cover of the Bodyboard, and was like how hard could it be when all you had to do was lay down on your belly and surf! I had quite a bit of surfing experience owing to which I underestimated the need for a technique for bodyboarding.

So I tied the leash of the Bodyboard to the notch provided and strapped that lease onto my shoulder. I got into the water with the bodyboard sitting on my head until I made it to knee-deep levels, I laid the bodyboard down only to slip off and go face-first into the salty water! My eyes had given up as I had slammed into the water and the only thing in my head was “is this supposed to be THIS SLIPPERY!”.

I stood there staring at the waves not ready to acknowledge what had happened. I tried again and this time the bodyboard flipped slamming me into the waves. After falling around 10 times I came to my senses and decided to go check out the tutorials.

I saw my friend running towards me, he hadn’t seen what had just happened but was just too excited to try the bodyboard on. I stood there pretending that nothing had happened, like a good friend I gave him the leash and told him why don’t you go first. He took over the bodyboard, went a bit deeper into the sea, and hopped onto the bodyboard, only to slam back into the waters. We both looked at each other knowing we messed up. We blamed our outfit for being too slippery and got out of the waters before we had any further embarrassment. We went to a restaurant disappointed and sat down and then we decided to watch a tutorial video on youtube.

And man we were blown away by what we could accomplish with a bodyboard. The tutorials were crisp and down to the point as to how to start bodyboarding. Being the noobs we were at this sport, we prepped well before we entered the waters again. This time with more attention to detail

What did I learn from the tutorial!

Step 1: Wear a wetsuit or if you want you can wear a rashguard.  

Normally when the waters are too cold I prefer to wear a wetsuit as it keeps me a bit warmer compared to a rashguard. Also, I realized a bit later that it helps in getting a proper grip over the bodyboard. It was a better option given the sport we were about to learn.

Step 2: Getting the position right.

Now, this is where I had all the trouble when I first went into the water. I realized that I was using the Bodyboard the same way I used to use the kickboard. Which was completely wrong. After watching the tutorials I realized that the right way to stay on top of your bodyboard was to have your stronger hand clipped to the side of the bodyboard to prevent slipping away from the bodyboard and the other hand upfront on the nose of the bodyboard to keep the bodyboard under control while you surf the waves.

Step 3: Getting into the waters

Walk with your bodyboard on your head or side till you get into knee-deep waters until it’s suitable for you to paddle. Once you get there lay your bodyboard down and get into the position and start paddling against the waves just like how you use a kickboard.

Step 4: Catching the right wave

Look for a gentle wave at the start so that you can work on your form and get it right before hitting the big waves. The moment you spot your wave approaching you move closer to it, turn around, and start paddling. Use your stronger hand to give you stability over the bodyboard. 

Step 4: Bodyboarding down the face of the wave.

Now that you’ve got a hold of the wave, start to surf down the face of the wave away from the white water. Keep the bodyboard steady and use your legs to control the speed and direction of the bodyboard until you reach the shore of the beach!

I caught my first wave!

A miracle happened! I caught my first wave, clung to the bodyboard starting 35 meters away from the shoreline. It was a perfect wave all the way through and it was the best feeling ever, I shot at amazing speeds through the breaking wave. Not worried about what was around me I just focused on directing my bodyboard and a gust of misty wind that was blowing over my face! Not long enough and I found myself at the shore. These were the best 45 seconds I had spent in Gokarna. We spent 2 hours straight hitting the waves until our stomachs gave up and we had to run towards the restaurants!

Little did we know that we had fallen in love with bodyboarding and the feeling it gave us when we successfully caught and surfed a gigantic wave.

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