Why Own a Bodysurfing Handplane?

By: Todd Partridge •

Apparently using a handboard is not for everyone, but that’s no excuse not to throw one behind the seat of your truck. I mean, why not? It doesn’t take up much room and you probably have a pair of fins back there anyway. Next time you’re sitting there looking at smoking little drainers charging through, you’ll have just what you need for a little extra travel time in said drainers. That handplane is also going to greatly increase the odds of you popping out of your next barrel and who doesn’t want that? Yeah, sure there are ‘purists’ that think it’s uncool or lazy or cheating; they may say that real bodysurfers don’t need props. Ok, what are those things that are attached to your feet mister awesome?

It’s an undeniable fact that using a handplane gives you more lift, speed and control over just using your body (yes it’s still bodysurfing, Mister Awesome) giving you better positioning so you can stay higher, travel further and make sections you normally wouldn’t make. Using a hand board makes a big difference in riding small mushy waves. Obviously they work, or they wouldn’t be growing so much in popularity.

Another reason why you should own a handplane is because they make great travel partners along with your fins. Note that you can throw ‘em in your suitcase or backpack and not pay ridiculous oversize luggage fees. Hell you can just carry the damn things on the airplane with you –can you say no lost gear? Scenario: quick cab or bus ride to the airport; walk on the airplane in your flips and trunks with your fins and hand board. Next thing you know you’ve scored seriously overhead Colorado’s in Nica, you’re back home stoked out of your gourd –and no one even knew you were gone. Stealthy. No matter the destination isn’t it awesome to have your gear handy for that impromptu go out at that random beach break you just spotted from the rent a car window, no matter the tide? Or what about the last-light go out when you don’t want to bother with a surfboard?

Back at home it’s frickin great to be able to grab my handplane and fins before I ride my [t]rusty bike down to the beach for the sunset or for a mid-afternoon cool off. It’s nice to be able to say “well whad’ya know –fun looking surf, sure glad I have my gear with me!”

You get the picture: hand boarding is the best half hour of fun you can have in the ocean. And if I haven’t tempted you sufficiently check out this great piece in Surfermagazine.com A Brief History of the Handboard by John Hazen, Jr. An excerpt follows:

“The waves were breaking with an inviting precision. After the third ride I was having a ball. If my take-off was early, I’d fade into the curl, then change direction with a smooth carving turn. The wave would form ahead of me and I’d charge to the shallow spot in the reef to position myself inside the inevitable pitch-out of the wave over my head. Later take-offs required a more intentional drive down the wall, putting the skegs and inside rail to work. Pursued. Then escaping...time after time.

I began to chuckle aloud, reveling in the solitary pleasure of riding water crystal walls of speed and fun, all by myself, on a warm windless morning.

“Wave after wave...tube after impossible tube...He was invincible,” I narrated myself and laughed as I recalled the lines from an old surfing movie.

Summertime. Oahu’s North Shore. The waves were no more than two feet high.”

Feed the Urge!

Todd Partridge
Todd Partridge


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