Catching a wave on a wooden bodyboard is much quicker and easier to learn than stand up surfing - its a sport that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities in shallow surf as well as out the back. If you've never done it before - see our top tips page for a beginners guide to bellyboarding and our gallery and films pages to see how its done.
This type of surfing has an amazing heritage which dates back at least 100 years. It was the Original British Surf Sport, also known as Surf-Riding, but now more often called wooden bodyboarding or bellyboarding. The design of these thin wooden surfboards was inspired by the ancient Hawaiin “paipo” boards.
Hand built in Britain to last - Original Surfboards also look cool on display and can be personalised with boat vinyl designs to make unique presents as well as corporate signs.
Sally Parkin set up The Original Surfboard Company in 2008 on a mission to revive and re-style the Original British Surf Sport of Surf-riding (now often called Bellyboarding)
Sally spent all her childhood summers living by the sea at Porthcothan Bay in North Cornwall. Her father taught her how to catch waves on the family wooden boards in the summer of 1965 when she was five years old. She and her sister Jane would spend hours in the sea every day - without wetsuits. When the foam boogie boards arrived at the beach in the early 1970s Sally did try them out but she soon returned to the thinner wooden boards as she felt more "in the wave" on them and that they also gave her a greater sense of speed.
When the old family boards began to break in 2007 Sally had no idea where to buy new ones. She was aware that by now the wooden boards had almost been eclipsed by the foam bodyboards. She also discovered that most people were now claiming that the term "Surfing" was only about catching waves standing up on a board. If you were lying down on a foam board it was now usually called 'bodyboarding' or if you were on a wooden board it was referred to as 'belly boarding'. In 2007 it seemed to Sally that the majority of stand up surfers now considered Bellyboarding to be a bit of a joke reserved for the over 60s.
Sally was old enough to know that the boards had originally been called surfboards and felt strongly that the term 'belly boarding' had unfortunate associations with belly flops and beer bellies and did not reflect the style or heritage of Britain's original British sport. It had been these simple wooden body boards which had first earnt Newquay's reputation as Britian's finest surfing destination in the 1930s. In the 1930s and 50s these wooden boards were conisdered to be the most stylish accessory to carry onto the beach and into the sea.
Having worked with Graphic designers and animators in specialist TV produciton Sally was keen to re-style the boards to improve their current image while retaining their unique heritage.
The Original Surfboard Company was launched online in June 2008.
Sally's original inspiration was to preserve and revive this type of surfing along the North Cornish coastline but her meeting with the internationally renowned surfboard shaper Tom Wegener in 2009 led to them both uncovering stories and images of wooden boards being used all over the world. It also inspired Sally to have boards made to her own specification using higher grade woods.
Over the last six years The Original Surfboard Company has been delighted to send boards to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, the United States (including Hawaii) Canada, Israel, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Channel Islands.
In 2007 when she started to research the history of these wooden bodyboards Sally found there was hardly any information about them online. Most surf websites did not even give the wooden boards a mention. Through extensive research Sally has built up a significant collection of surf riding memorabilia which includes guide books, poster images and postcards of the boards as well as a vintage bathers and beach wear which she uses to prove the history and heritage of Britain's original surf sport and its particular links with Hawaii, New Zealand and South Africa.
JOHN ISAAC & CHRISTIAAN BAILEY
When Sally started her surfboard business she hadn't had any connections with the surf industry or any expectations that professional surfers would be interested in riding the original wooden bodyboards. Two months later John Isaac and Christiaan Bailey came to visit her at Porthcothan along with two Hawaiaan style wooden boards shaped by Tom Wegener.
John Isaac (professional photographer and purveyor of vintage surfboards and cars) and Christiaan Bailey (Film maker) had both been connected with the surf industry for many years.
Over the years John and Christiaan have played a pivotal role in helping to revive the original wooden boards by encouraging top surfers to try out this particular type of wave riding and through their films and photography.
All the vintage style photographs on the website are by John Isaac and Christiaan has made two short films showing the boards being used by Jack Johns in Cornwall and at an event in 2012 in New York and Montauk.
It was through John and Christiaan that Sally met Tom Wegener and his family which inspired her to produce her own higher spec boards and it was also through Tom that in 2012 Sally had the fun and privilege of sharing waves with Rob Machado at Porthcothan and talking to him, Peter King and the senior Hurley team about "old school wave sliding" English style.
ORIGINAL TEAM RIDERS
The Original Surfboard Company is thrilled that so many talented stand up surfers have become original surfboard company team riders and having fun on the ply - not just in Cornwall but all over the world - even in Hawaii.
CORNISH TEAM RIDERS : Gwyn Haslock, Jack Johns, Alan Stokes, Jimbo Bennet, Sam Boex, John Isaac & Christiaan Bailey
REST OF THE WORLD: Austraiia: Tom Wegener and Margie Wegener. USA: Matt Mc Gregor Mento (New York) Kirk Gee (California) South Africa: Simon Kneel and Helena Kneel (also Swedish team rider)