Bodysurfing Equipment: A Basic Guide to Handplanes
October 15 2020
Hand planing, as a sport, is all about having fun. It is a watersport which takes bodysurfing to the next level.
A handplane maximises your bodysurf experience by allowing you to catch and ride the longest, therefore, most enjoyable waves when playing about in the surf. For many people, bigger is better, and the handplane is the one which allows you to feel the wave much bigger. In other words, handplanes enhance what you can achieve when bodysurfing.
Let’s get acquainted in more details with handplanes, how to choose one regarding the material, size and shape, and how to use it.
What Is a Handplane?
A handplane, which is another a piece of equipment often adorned by bodysurfers, is essentially a small board that is worn on the lead hand of the bodysurfer in order to help trim the face of the wave and hold a line. It also helps the bodysurfer get into the wave earlier and stay on the wave longer, and therefore have greater control on the wave’s surface. A handplane allows for an experience of planing across the water, a feeling of being level with the wave, yet still, have enough lift to get your upper body out of the water. It offers a hand hold, a rail to dig in and grip onto, not only preventing you from slipping too far down the face, but switch direction as well, correct your line, rise and fall in the pocket and surf the wave in completeness, something which is barely possible without it.
There is just one thing that is considered as a downside wearing a handplane, and that is that the bodysurfer has to swim through the ocean wearing a weighted object on his/her hand and this, in turn, results in less freedom of expression when riding waves.
And when talking about it, let’s not miss mentioning that handplanes are made by hands.
Choosing a Handplane
You may be surprised to know how many differences there are in something so small, as is the handplane. So, let’s see more thoroughly how handplanes may differ.
Due to the material they are made from, you can find wooden handplanes, plastic handplanes, fibreglass, foam, and even 3D printed cardboards. Each material has its pros and cons, and all of them are high-quality materials for making handplanes. However, wooden handplanes for surfingare regarded to be one of the most practical, and therefore are one of the best sellers. Additionally, from the types of wood used, the most frequently used ones are paulownia, red oak, fir wood, etc. Even so, all of the above materials are suitable for surfing, you just have to find out what fits you most.
Decreasing the drag of a bodysurfer can give you a dramatic increase in speed. This will help you get across the waves faster, enabling you to make sections easier and extending your bodysurfing ride. This mostly counts for very experienced bodysurfers. They generally prefer smaller boards making it easier to do tricks. However, everything is individual. The general rule is that a physically bigger person can handle a larger sized board, and smaller people should go for a smaller sized board.
When it comes to the shape of handplanes, there are a few things that should be mentioned: a small amount of nose rocker which helps you catch waves without digging the nose in, a flattish mid-section of the hull for speed, and a concave in the rear section in order to give you lift and drive.
How to Use a Handplane?
This is something everyone dreams about, but only a few actually experience. Picking up handplaning couldn’t be simpler or quicker. All you need is a pair of swim fins and a handplane. When you already have them, the next thing for you to do is gather the courage to get in the water and try.
When you find a wave coming your way, you just have to stretch your body out in a superman like position. You should have your handplane on your leading hand, and kick like mad and as the wave reaches your feet, you will feel it lift you up and suddenly – you're surfing. Don’t stop kicking. Just pick your line by positioning your leading hand and ride the section until that wall of water will barrel over you, and by that wrapping you up within.
Push your handboard into the surface of the water and feel how it lifts you further out of the water. And there you are - experiencing handplaning. Now, swim back out there and do it all over again.
A good thing about handplaning is that even on those choppy days, you can still manage to find yourself riding a wave when most people around you aren’t.