There’s no arguing that surfing is awesome fun, but if you’re like me and just can’t get the hang of standing on a board for longer than a couple of seconds, then handboarding might be right up your street. If you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, I quizzed 31-year-old Angela Ferendo — keen sports chic and Chief Ryde Officer at Slyde Handboards in California — to give you a little insight into the sport…
So what is handboarding?
Handboarding is wave riding for the masses. A handboard is a simple, one-handed surfboard. The surfer straps the board to their hand and planes up on the water while catching the wave allowing the surfer to lift out of the water to increase speed and manoeuvrability. It’s simple to learn and gives you great surfing experience.
Has the sport been around long?
Surfers and wave riders have been handboarding for decades, possibly even centuries. They use all sorts of different things to ride waves — food trays, pieces of driftwood and even frisbees — to increase lift and speed while bodysurfing. However, popularity for the sport has been steadily increasing over the past few years.
How can you surf on a food tray?!
Sounds odd, but yes! A native of South Africa, Slyde Handboards’ Founder and CEO, Steve Watts has spent years travelling the world looking for great waves, as well as inspiration for design, engineering and play. In his words: “As kids, we would spend the hot summer days generally making nuisances of ourselves and dreaming up all sorts of ‘wave riding’ apparatuses. From fast food trays to the trusty old flip-flop (yes, believe it or not you can surf a wave with a shoe). But it was the lowly food tray that held the throne in our quest for wave riding perfection. Tray hunting was serious business back in the day and the need for the perfect ride often outweighed the need to not be chased down the beach by flailing armed restaurant staff. The lift and extra speed these improvised handboards provided were the driving force that inspired me to create a line of boards to enhance the bodysurfing experience for everyone.”
How does it compare with bodysurfing, surfing or bodyboarding?
Handboarding is just different — you get the glide of surfing with the ease of bodyboarding. Handboards are simple to use, easy to learn on and can be used in almost any wave condition. They’re also really light for travelling.
What sort of conditions make for optimum riding?
The ideal conditions are peaky waves, non-closeout, typically found at a shorebreak. This summer I rode 1ft waves in Rhode Island and up to 5-6ft shorebreak in Malibu — I loved both days just as much!
How skilled do you need to be?
There’s no skillset required, but being comfortable in the ocean is definitely recommended.
What’s the benefit in using a handboard?
There are a number of reasons you’d want to use a handboard. For starters, your speed is increased, helping you make that section, pull into the barrel and get pitted. It gives you higher lift out of the water, which means less drag and also increases your pull into the wave, so you miss less waves.
What type of handboards do you make?
We make three types of board — the Wedge, the HexFlex and the Phish. The materials are exactly the same as used in high performance surfboards, allowing for the perfect lift out of the water, as well as increased speed.
Where does the awesome artwork for your handboards come from and are you open to new designs?
Slyde’s founder is a talented artist and oversees all design concepts. But we’re always open to artist collaborations, and frequently feature different artists.
What do you (personally) love about handboarding?
For me, it’s all about getting that stoke I feel when I’m in the ocean, and having fun like I’m a kid again. I always wanted to be a surfer, and now I am. Plus I get a killer workout. My weekend long runs have now been replaced with barrel fests!
All images courtesy of Slyde Handboards