Having recently stumbled across a handful of videos of people riding waves with nothing more than a tiny board strapped to their hand, it’s sensible to think a handplane is a good addition to the modern quiver. You know, for the days it isn’t pumping. However, what started as a backup to surfing, handplaning quickly becomes an entirely new reason to hit the water for many. With bodysurfing’s popularity is on the rise, this alternative form of wave riding harnesses the ocean’s energy as you intimately ride the surf it spits out. This stripped down form of wave riding embraces simplicity.
Handplaning is an upgrade to bodysurfing. It ensures you can get even more out of your surf sessions by providing longer cleaner rides, allowing you to stick to your line easier, and change direction effortlessly. More than anything else though, it’s immensely good fun. You’re not tethered to a surfboard or bodyboard, and most rides are enjoyed without the added stresses involved in picking and sticking the perfect one. With the World Bodysurfing Championships just gone, and 1st Annual C.I.C UK Bodysurfing Championships arriving in Newquay this September, momentum is certainly with the bodysurfing fraternity.
The beauty of the sport lies in its accessibility. Frankly, picking up handplaning is both efficient and simple. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced surfer or bodyboarder, paddling in front of a peaking wave with a handplane out in front of you is all you need to do to find barrels. It actually doesn’t take much more explaining than that. When you find a wave coming your way, simply stretch your body out in a “Superman” position with the plane on your leading hand and kick like mad. You don’t stop kicking once you’ve felt the wave pick you up, as you pick your line by positioning your leading hand and riding the section until that wall of water barrels over you. Now, push your handplane into the surface of the water and feel it talk back to you as it lifts you further out of the water. Presto! You’ve just experienced handplaning. Time to swim back out and do it all again.
As every surfer knows, not all spots offer up a perfect right hander that works all year round. The most satisfying thing about handplaning is that even on those blown out choppy days, or those pancake-flat lifeless days, you can still find yourself riding waves. It’s why having a handplane in your quiver isn’t just a good idea, it should be a necessity if your goal is to maximize that wave count.
Just be careful that next time it’s firing. You might find yourself reaching for a handplane before anything else.