An Interview with Bodysurfer David Ford

The Bodysurfing Shop recently had the opportunity to sit down with one the worlds top bodysurfers, David Ford, of Ventura County, CA . Recently crowned 2018 Garage Handplanes Body Bash champion at the Noosa Festival of Surfing. He shared with us, thoughts on his time in Australia and told us about his history in bodysurfing.


So Dave, firstly, congratulations on winning the 2018 Garage Handplanes Body Bash! I’ve been told this is your 2nd time to Australia?

DF: The first time I was in Australia was 1995. I travelled from Sydney to Noosa by bus, stopping along the way to surf. I won a trip from winning the World Body Surfing Championships (WBSC) in Oceanside the previous year. My brother Chris and friend Spike travelled with me. It was interesting seeing Noosa and how much it has changed.

Dave Ford at First Point, Noosa  Photographer: Surf Shots Noosa

Dave Ford at First Point, Noosa

Photographer: Surf Shots Noosa

Is this your first bodysurfing competition here? How did you enjoy the event? Google tells me that you’ve been winning World Championship’s since before I was born. Tell us about some of the other competitions you have entered/won over the years, any that stand out?

DF: The Garage Hand planes Body bash was one of the sickest comps that I have ever been a part of. We could always hope for better and bigger waves but it was a really cool vibe and I will never complain about 100-200 meter long point breaks with only a few guys out. What I really liked about the comp was the organization and professional vibe associated with the running of the comp. It was really cool to have you and the Dafin guys from Hawaii in the event as well, it raises the level of competition and makes the win extra special.

DF: This was the first competition that I have competed in, in Australia. The only other international competition for me was Puerto Escondido in the early 2000’s, which I won. That competition was the first that I got to go head to head with Mark Cunningham in, which made the win extra special. In California we do a few low key competitions here and there. Santa Cruz and our club contest in Ventura are the best for good surf. I won my first WBSC in Oceanside in 1992 (pretty sure of that date, but not 100%). 2017 was the 6th title that I have won at that comp. The WBSC in Oceanside is usually pretty small and by the time the finals come around usually blown out. What makes that event prestigious is the number of bodysurfers (300-400+) that come from all over the world to compete in it. To win the overall title one must advance through about 6 age division heats and then go against all the other age division winners.  

When did you start bodysurfing? 

DF: My grandfather, Bill Lucking started our family in bodysurfing prior to my birth. He founded the South Jetty Swells Bodysurfing Association ages ago (~1960’s). He bodysurfed until his mid-70’s and competed in his last event at age 72. The group started as a lunch time get together of various men and women from the Ventura County, CA area. It has morphed into many generations of family and friends. My Father Ernie (age 73), and mother Carly (age 69) still bodysurf and compete and have placed in many events. My wife Paden competes as well but only because it is an unwritten requirement for our family, she is more of a soul surfer than a competitor. The fiercest competition for me is my twin brother Chris, and younger brother Spencer, both have won the WBSC in Oceanside once, along with many other titles. My son Oliver (age 10), and daughter Adalie (age 8) are showing great promise in the water and have been able to catch waves on their own for a few years now.

I see that you use DMC Repellors! When did you first test them out? What do you think of them? Quite a different design to many bodysurfing fins out in the market at the moment. How do they help you bodysurf? And, what are your favourite aspects of them?

Dave Ford (right) after winning the 2017 Oceanside World Body Surfing Championships. Don McCredie (left) of DMC Fins.

Dave Ford (right) after winning the 2017 Oceanside World Body Surfing Championships. Don McCredie (left) of DMC Fins.

DF: DMC Fins gave me a pair of fins a few years back and they sat in my car unused for about a year. One day surfing in Ventura, I lost my Dafins, which I used for about 10 years and had to use the DMC Repellors. I was extremely surprised at how soft and comfortable they were on my feet. They took me a few sessions to figure out how to maximize the thrust, and I believe they are as good of performers as any fins I have ever used. I have used most types of fins and thought that dealing with feet cramps and blisters were an unavoidable part of using them. To my surprise I have never suffered from a foot cramp or blister using DMC fins. After winning the WBSC in Oceanside in 2017 using Repellors, my relationship with DMC went to the next level. Don McCredie and his family are some of the most supportive and genuine people I have ever met. Don has donated hundreds of fins for our club and my family and friends, along with hosting me in Australia this year. Our trip to Australia last week had us in the water for multiple 3 hour hard swimming sessions per day all week long and I never suffered from cramps or blisters.

Where do you live/bodysurf now? Must be a great change to be bodysurfing in some warmer waters. Do you find it’s easier to bodysurf with or without a wetsuit?

DF: I live in Southern Oregon where the waves get massive and the water is really cold (8-10c). The set up can get rather remote as well.  It is a lot harder to bodysurf in a 5mm wetsuit. I will always prefer to surf in the least amount of rubber as possible, as it can get really restrictive with thick wetsuits. That being said I have nice wetsuit and will not let the cold hold me back.

Dave Ford with the new black and green  DMC Repellors   Photographer - Sean Davey

Dave Ford with the new black and green DMC Repellors

Photographer - Sean Davey

You won the Garage Handplanes Body Bash without a handplane, do you always surf without a handplane? What benefits do you see bodysurfing with and without a handplane?

DF: I never surf with a handplane as I find it restrictive and cumbersome. There are ways to position the body to generate the speed needed to make fast section without. Maybe I am missing out and should try a handplane again, as it has been 20 years since I have tried one. It looks like they are more functional than before.

What do you when your not bodysurfing?

DF: My family consists of wife Paden, son Oliver (age 10), and daughter Adalie (age 8). We live near a ski mountain and love to ski and snowboard, along with fishing and river rafting. My kids also rip at bodysurfing and have been at it for a few years now.

Bucketlist wave/s to bodysurf?

DF: Bucket list for waves? Surf the slabs of Australia with your crew. Surf Pipeline. My favourite surf trips in the past have been Indonesia, Tahiti, Madeira, and Mexico.

Dave Ford in the spot. Snapper Rocks  Photographer -  Elliot Kirkwood Photography  

Dave Ford in the spot. Snapper Rocks

Photographer - Elliot Kirkwood Photography 

Do you train specifically for bodysurfing?

DF: As far as training goes I try to get in the ocean as much as possible but work gets in the way of that a lot. I rely on the pool to stay in shape when I can’t get in the ocean.

What’s next on the agenda for Dave Ford, competitions, surf trips?

DF: My next competition is Pipeline. This will be my first trip to the North Shore. There is also talk of DMC Fins putting together a surf trip to Northern Sumatra this year for a few from the team which should be amazing.

Until next time Dave!  Photographer -  Elliot Kirkwood Photography

Until next time Dave!

Photographer - Elliot Kirkwood Photography