In 2016, Rikki Gilbey of WAW Handplanes organised the first Whomp Off Australia. A small affair, it featured just four teams bodysurfing. The East Sydney Bodysurfers, Wommin Wompers, South Coast Bodysurfers and the Northern Beaches Whompers. Little did he know that the Whomp Off Australia would turn into the largest team based bodysurfing event run globally. With over 14 teams and 120 competitors registered this year, the competition is running ahead on the 15th of September (tomorrow) at North Cronulla Beach. In lead up to the event we had a chat with competition organiser Rikki Gilbey to talk all things Whomp Off Australia.

Whomp Off Australia 2016

Whomp Off Australia 2016

Q.     So after founding the Whomp Off Australia, it has now made it to its 3rd year running, what inspired you to begin the event? 

 Yeah, 3rd year! Wow, time flys. I started Whomp Off Australia after heading up to check out the Noosa bodysurfing festival in 2016. Everyone was so stoked just to meet other bodysurfers, and I came to realise that people were bodysurfing largely by themselves, unaware that other bodysurfers existed in their local area. So upon my return to Sydney, a few us established the East Sydney Bodysurfers. An Instagram page, and a few posts later and boom, we had 13 guys rock up to our first meet. I was stoked! As was everyone involved. Soon, word spread and more and more people came down to our weekly meets and before we knew it, other clubs were popping up, South Coast, Northern Beaches, Gold Coast. And so then my next mission was to bring all of these clubs together and thus Whomp Off Australia was born. 

Q.     There's such a great sense of community within bodysurfing circles, the team based event really brings this to the forefront. Why do you think this is?

As I mentioned, it brings people together and unites them over a shared passion. And I think being able to compete alongside your fellow teammates truly builds that sense of comradery and develops a true team. 

 Q.     The resurgence of Bodysurfing in Australia seems to be in full flight. What do think this can be attributed to?

I feel there are 3 key factors to bodysurfing's recent revival

1. Its a super simple and accessible sport, that anyone can do, so long as they can swim. And in this busy hectic world we live in, a quick simple, pure past time like bodysurfing, is such a great way to escape and be at one with nature for a while

2. Social media has allowed bodysurfers to develop a global sense of community and the pictures, videos and movies shared through this medium have inspired so many people around Australia and the world to pick up a handplane and fins and get their whomp on.

3. Companies creating and developing new equipment, fins and handplanes for bodysurfing, have undoubtedly helped boost interest in the sport. I know from the very start with WAW Handplanes, I acknowledged that the real mission was to sell the idea of bodysurfing not handplanes, Its simply so much fun and an easy sell, anyone and everyone who gives it ago loves it! 

Q.     What do you think the future holds for bodysurfing in Australia and globally?

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I'd like to think bodysurfing in Australia, gets to a level where your average person on the street is like "ah yeah bodysurfing's awesome" instead of the current average Joe being like "errrr body what? 

I can also see numerous more gatherings, clubs, and events like Whomp Off.  I'm not quite sure if I want to see it go mainstream, I like that it's a little underground still, but given the way things are going, I can see no reason why it can't blow up to be like bodyboarding and surfing, And I suppose that would be good for business haha.

Q.  What bodysurfing equipment is allowed for the event?

Anything and everything that comes under the umbrella of bodysurfing. Its a fully inclusive event. We even let people wear their budgies smugglers if they insist. 

 Q.  There are some big names at this years event, who do you think are the ones to watch?

Basically all the Hawaiians, but be sure to check out Paul Khodor of ESBS & Jack Macrae of the Wommin Wompers, these guys know a bodysurfing trick or two.  

Q.  If the brand WAW Handplanes wanted to be known for one thing, what would it be?

Sustainable bodysurfing products, that get you barrelled without leaving a trace.

Q.  Are we going to get waves on the day?

Yeah baby! 1-3' NE swell and offshore winds inbound


Q.  What do you think of the Bate Bay Body Bashers? Can they clinch 2 in a row? Which team are you backing to win and who do you feel are the dark horses?

The Bate Bay Body Bashers are all talk, I say ESBS for the win, but that's just me...

Na, jokes. In my eyes everyone’s already a winner for simply turning up and adding to this amazing community .

Q. Where can we find out all the finer details in regards to the day?
Stay tuned to Whomp Off Australia on Instagram @whomp_off_australia and for all the info head to the website www.whompoffaustralia.com