by Michelle Michalak September 29, 2018

Belly Slater is the stoke-broking, foam slangin', fin sprinting, mystery man of the Australian bodysurfing community. 

Belly's added a constant laugh track to all things bodysurfing since 2014, and we couldn't wait to share more about him.

Tell us about the man behind the bodysurfing persona of Belly Slater

It all started when I was 10 years old. That's when my dad taught me how to bodysurf. A former South African gold medalist on the trampoline, my dad is a total hellman and my wave riding hero. We’d be on holidays at Nelson Bay or Byron Bay on Australia’s East Coast. He would strip down to his bright yellow budgies, butterfly his way straight out the back and pile drive himself down massive dumping waves – head first, chest out, hands behind his back – while yodelling an ecstatic “Woohoohoohoo!” that you could hear from the shore.

Skip forward 25 years and a work mate from a new job told me about an old frother from North Cronulla who made life changing handplanes. I bought one and after using it for the first time I was so stoked I couldn’t sleep that night. From that point on I was hooked. I’ve spent every spare moment since riding, designing, making, thinking, preaching and singing about handplanes and bodysurfing.

My obsession evolved into BELLY. A bodysurfing movement that’s all about fun, creativity, inclusivity and not taking yourself too seriously. It’s also about giving a massive F-Yew! to the things that are ready to be phased out of surf culture like exclusivity, localism, macho bravado and pressure to conform. 

What's the best thing about bodysurfing in Australia?

The people! Through BELLY I have met heaps of creative, weird, hilarious, aquatically gifted and humble legends. They inspire, entertain and amaze me every day. I feel enormously proud to be part of the Aussie bodysurfing community.

Where did the inspiration to create a bodysurfing persona come from?

I watched a lot of WWF wrestling when I was younger. I like to think that Belly Slater is the equivalent of the Ultimate Warrior, but if I’m honest with myself he’s probably closer to Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Heart.

If you could add on any superhero power to Belly Slater what would it be?

The power to declare public holidays when it’s pumping.

What would Belly Slater & Kelly Slater chat about over a beer?  

Probably trademark issues.

If there’s one thing we know about you, it’s your stoke for song.  If you’re going to sing karaoke what’s your go to song choice?

Tutti Frutti by Little Richard.

If you could ride a party wave with any 2 people on the planet who would you choose and why?

If I’m allowed to choose 3 people it has to be my kids. It’ll be so awesome when they are old enough to join me for a bash. Not long now!

If I’m only allowed 2 people, I’d choose @benwei5050 and @stoke_farmer and pick their mad scientist minds on handplane theory, design and construction.

Where’s your favorite local surf break? Where’s on your bucket list?

Narrabeen Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is my favorite local beach. It usually throws up massive un-makeable closeouts. But on it’s day it can be sublime. The best waves I’ve ever bodysurfed were at Narrabeen.

As far as bucket list waves go – I’m itching to get back to Mazunte, in Oaxaca, Mexico. My mate and I came upon it by chance in the Summer of 2004. No cam checks, no planning – we just rocked up there in the back of a bumpy old military colletivo. Maztune gifted us a four hour conveyer belt of perfect perky moistures that slapped the soles of our bare feet high five as they guided us gently but quickly all the way to shore.

We hitched a ride back to our hostel with a local lifeguard – an actual caveman – sitting in the boot of his car – sandfly bitten sunburnt feet hovering just above the dirt track – laughing our asses off in disbelief.

Any trends or predictions you see for the bodysurfing industry in 2019? 

Thin is in! I have been making and playing with oversized wafer thin foam covered plywood paipos. I’m so psyched on the speed you can get on those things and, with their large surface area, they let you milk the small stuff for all it’s worth. The razor thin rails lock you in tight for an awesome balls to the wall, make or break ride!
 
Also, in 2019 the first bodysurfing air will be captured on film. A few of the Hawaiians at the forefront of bodysurfing tell me they’re very close. One underground Aussie just out of school reckons he’s nailed it for real - fins totally out of the water - he just needs to get it on camera. The space race is well and truly on!

Check out more Belly Slater HERE→

Handboard Australia

Michelle Michalak
Michelle Michalak

Michelle's diploma reads BA Psychology with a minor in English, and her license plate reads #CaliforniaDreaming4Life. She begin her career in the NYC fashion industry working with fashion and internet pioneer, Bluefly.com However, due the constant "nagging" of her entrepreneurial spirit, her crush on surfing, and hardcore love for the ocean, she chosen to call San Diego home for the past 10 years. On the west coast she 's chased waves & enlightenment working alongside "Gurus" in the online marketing & personal development industries. It in May 2012 she found her true Zen & Stoke, and joined the Slyde Handboards Team.


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