Laird Hamilton’s Bodysurfing 101

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Alex Brandon / AP

The Superman approach of riding with both arms outstretched is how most novices wash ashore. But if you’re trying to actually ride the wave – to go across the wave and not just barrel straight ahead – you want to ride on your side. Extend one arm out in front – right arm to go right or left arm to go left – and press off that hand. Your body will roll over on its side, increasing your edge in the water and allowing you to cut across the wave better. Then, stretch your other arm behind you and press your palm towards the water as a means to control your arch – as with a surfboard, you want your body to have a little curve. And the more rigid you are, the faster you go. Fins definitely help, but it’s nice to go natural. It’s a more intimate way to be in the surf.

All you have to do is look at President Obama. He has great form. He’s an exceptional bodysurfer. When people in Hawaii see a picture of Obama bodysurfing they’re like, “Oh, yeah!” It’s not like he just went there and pretended he’s doing it. Especially with his front hand up. That’s style points right there. Let’s just say he’s the best bodysurfing president that we’ve ever had.

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