The History of Bodyboarding and Boogie Boarding

Water sports are not just full of fun but have amazing health benefits as well. There are several different types of water sports, yet some of them are very similar. For instance, boogie boarding, bodyboarding, and surfing are all related to one another. So, what is the difference between them?

We all know that in surfing, the athlete stands on a surfboard and rides a wave. The surfboard has a fin on the bottom and is quite large. So, the term ‘surfing’ refers to riding the wave while laying or standing on board. Now, let’s talk about the difference between bodyboarding and Boogie boarding, and then move to their history.

Boogie Boarding

First, we need to understand the meaning of the word Boogie. As per the Oxford English Dictionary, the term means ‘to leave or move fast from a place,’ ‘a dance to rock music,’ or ‘a style of fast blues music played on the piano.’

The relationship between bodyboarding and Boogie Board is similar to the question, “what came first, the egg or the chicken?” The answer here is the Boogie Board. Tom Morey, in 1971, created a board that could be used to ride the waves in Hawaii. He named the board ‘Morey Boogie’ due to his love for ‘boogie woogie’ jazz.

The toy company that bought the Morey Boogie board trademarked it ‘Boogie Board.’


Since the toy company trademarked the term Boogie Board, all the other companies that produced the board used another name for it – Bodyboard. Both the board are manufactured to lying down or riding prone.

So, the bottom line of the difference between a bodyboard and a Boogie Board is that; there is none. However, several bodyboarders do not like the term Boogie Board and some of them even consider it to be derogatory and offensive.

History of Boogie Boarding

Bodyboarding and Boogie boarding are two different terms of the same sport. The Polynesian people first used the variance of Boogie boarding with a wood-made board – Alaia boards. They would ride these on their knees or belly. For Americans to revolutionize this game with modern materials took a couple of hundred years.

The inventor of the Boogie Board was Tom Morley. He made this board while living in Hawaii in July of 1971. Morley was experimenting with different materials and shapes. One day, he cut his last polyethylene foam piece in half and then shaped the segment a bit with a hot iron, and this is how the Boogie Board was born.

Several brands manufacture Boogie Boards, which means you have a wide range of options to choose from. It has become a big business with boards ranging from Wave Rebel’s Princess to Morey’s Big Kahuna. Other popular brands include Whamo, BZ, Body Glove, and Loca Motion. Moreover, these boards come in a variety of sizes.

Boogie boarding is a cheap sport. All you need is a board and a bathing suit, and you are all ready to enjoy. You can also rent Boogie Boards on some beaches anywhere from $5 per hour to $7 per day.

Boogie boarding is not a fun pastime only. The championship level competitions are also organized for Boogie boarding. In 1977, the first person to win the International Morey Boogie Body Board Pro Championships was Bryan Cain of Lowa. Before 1995, the competitions of Boogie Boards carried on with the name of Morey. It then became the GOB World Tour. 

The competitions changed names to the IBA World Tour from 2003. In 2013, an Australian sportsman, Ben, claimed the championship title. Past champions were from France, the United States of America, Brazil, and South Africa. 

Several reasons have made Boogie boarding grow as a sport. The main reason is that it is not expensive and is easy to learn – even the most inactive individuals can enjoy Boogie boarding almost immediately. 

The first professional contest took place at Pipeline in 1979. However, the prize money for this competition was a few hundred dollars only. However, the prize money for the 1995 competition was over $200,000.

Riding forms

Bodyboards are shaped according to the specific needs and preferences of the riders. The three major forms of bodyboarding include stand-up, drop-knee, and prone.

The Bodyboard (Boogie Board)


What makes a bodyboard differ from a surfboard is its length – it is typically 38 to 43 inches (97 to 109 centimeters) shorter in length. Moreover, both the boards are made of different types of foam. The modern bodyboards consist of softer foam sides (rails), a softer foam top (deck), and a foam core enfolded by a plastic bottom.

The material used in core-making includes polypropylene/polypro, arcel, or polyethylene/dow. Bixby or Surlyn make up the bottom, and CorssLink or 8LB are the materials that make the deck. Each type of foam (bottom, deck, or core) material gives a Bodyboard a different amount of control or flex. 


The bottom, rails, and deck are bonded to the core via several hot air lamination techniques. Before the introduction of the lamination technique, the shapers achieved this by using glue.


The curve or the shape of the board affects your riding. The best-suited form for prone riding is the board with a wide point nearer to the nose. It is because the weight of the bodyboarder rests further up on the bodyboard. 

Boards with narrower noses or parallel rails are ideal for stand-up and drop-knee riding. It is because the center of gravity of the bodyboarder tends to rest further back. Moreover, to increase the board’s critical parts surface area, modern Boogie boards are equipped with channels. They allow having control on to the wave. Previously, to lower slippage on the wave face, skegs were installed. 

Female Bodyboarders

In the 1970s, the first person to ride big Waimea Bay on a Bodyboard was Phyllis Dameron. In the early 1990s, Stephanie Petterson, Glenda Koslowski, and Mariana Nogueira set standards to level up women’s bodyboarding. At Pipeline in 1990, the first official World Championship of Women’s bodyboarding winner was Stephanie Petterson. 

It was the first-ever women’s event, which marked its 20th anniversary in 2009. The top-ranked female bodyboarder in the world is Alexandra Rinder. Sari Ohhara is the third, and Jessica Becker is the fourth-ranked top female Boogie Boarder in the world.


Do not get confused between the terms bodyboarding and Boogie boarding because there is no difference between them. The admirers of this sport are all around the world. The reasons that it is cheap, fun, and easy to learn made Boogie boarding a well-liked water sport by all. And learning about the origins and history of the favorite game can help you connect with the sport better.