The surf may not have been up, but the spirits of people young and old alike were high Saturday during the 10th annual Roots Bodyboarding Contest held at Honls surf spot in Kailua-Kona.
Youngsters, teens and adults snatched up wave after wave at Waiaha Bay, hoping to take the top spot in the bodyboarding-only contest despite West Hawaii’s lackluster surf during the summer months. While the waves rarely topped three feet, contestants still managed to pull off an array tricks as well as some long, sweet rides.
“It’s not big, but it’s rideable guys,” announced contest co-founder Krista Donaldson, garnering a positive response from the scores of people who showed up as the sun crested Hualalai for the free event.
Fifteen-year-old Kona resident Kayson Del Mar said every kid from Hilo and Kona and in between was at the event. His favorite part of bodyboarding is “getting barrel,” but even with relatively low surf, he said he and everyone else at Honls would still have fun.
“It’s all about fun,” Del Mar said about his reasons for attending the bodyboarding contest. “Even with small waves, I hope everyone goes home thinking of themselves as a runner and goes home happy.”
Scores turned out for the free event hosted by nonprofit Malama Waiaha. The day also included various trivia contests, food and entertainment for all.
While designated a bodyboarding contest, Donaldson said participants can’t hit the waves until they’ve spent about an hour pulling weeds, picking up trash, including, this year, a dead chicken, and planting aloe and ti plants at the Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation site located off Alii Drive. It is also a no-waste event.
Founded a decade ago, the Roots Bodyboarding Contest is held annually to showcase bodyboarding, as well as to honor the birthplace of the modern bodyboard and its inventor, Tom Morey, said Donaldson. Modern boards differ from the traditional paipo board used by Hawaiians, which were made of wood.
“This is the cultural epicenter of bodyboarding,” she said. “We want to honor bodyboarding and it being one of the fastest growing sports in history that you see everywhere.”
In July 1971, Donaldson explained, Morey developed at Waiaha Bay the modern bodyboard fashioned from a broken surf board, newspint, glue and sealant. His invention became widely known as the Morey Bodyboard, in some cases the Boogieboard, and can still be purchased today.
The bodyboarding contest is also the only of its kind on Hawaii Island dedicated to the sport of bodyboarding, she said.
Bodyboarder Clyde Near, another 15-year-old Kona resident, said he has taken part in the event for the past four years. He enjoys that it is free, has plenty of prizes and that everyone who wants to participate has to help clean the beach first.
“It’s the funnest event in Kona,” he said. “And, it’s all bodyboarding.”
For more information on Malama Waiaha, email Donaldson at Kristajoan@gmail.com or call 557-9085.