Think of it as a warm-up lap, or better yet, a shot across the bow of bodysurfing clubs the world over.
Thirteen female bodysurfers stood shoulder to shoulder on March 25 on the beach at 17th Street—the Del Mar Bodysurfing Club’s usual haunt—and found conditions that were far from ideal.
Gusting winds. Hostile currents. Surf churned into misshapen slop.
Outfitted only with wetsuits and specialized fins, the group included a nine-time world champion, a former Del Mar lifeguard, an 8-year-old from Encinitas, a here-unnamed cohort nearly seven decades her senior, and a mother-and-daughter of whom the latter was carrying the former’s granddaughter-to-be.
Led by Del Mar’s Meredith Rose—reigning world champ in her age group—they made their way to the outermost break, doggedly determined to pull off a feat that to their knowledge has seen no precedent: 13 bodysurfers skimming blissfully along the face of a single, shared wave.
Never mind that several among them were competitors of the highest caliber; an hour of stubborn surf scattered the group again and again, leaving the best of their attempts to carry eight, maybe nine, of the full 13—albeit with ecstatic elation untarnished by the handful of stragglers.
Impressive though their feat no doubt was, it did not set a world record, per se, as there was never one to begin with. Neither Guinness nor the Olympics have bestowed the sport with their approval, so the closest achievement club president Vince Askey could discover was the 110 board surfers who shared an Australian wave in 2009.
Without such official sanction, Askey readily concedes that their claim cannot be proved valid—but is even quicker to cut in that a world record was never their true intent.
"We didn't have anything other than an idea of starting it up with the hopes it would grow,” he said.
Plans are well underway for a repeat attempt—but far bigger and more organized—in either late June or early September. No last-minute Facebook post this time around; Askey envisions proper promotion and procedure, an event that gives way to a celebration befitting the spirit DMBC has developed over its six years since forming. There’s talk even of piggybacking on this August’s world championships in Oceanside.
Added exposure, Askey said, would bring an air of legitimacy, which before long might set off a wave of one-upmanship that would compel official inclusion in the record books.
“We're actually kind of hoping that some club in another country, like Australia or Brazil, decides that they want to answer the challenge,” Askey said. "So yeah, definitely the ball is starting to roll a little bit.”