World Bellyboard Championships

04 September

World Bellyboard Championships

2016 dates to be confirmed

What’s it all about?

A very simple, back-to-basics competition with no wetsuits, no leashes and no swim fins. A bit of wood and a swimsuit is all you need.

What happens?

The 11th annual World Bellyboard Championships is organised and hosted by the National Trust and is a celebration of all things connected with the art of riding traditional wooden boards. No wetsuits, only bathing costumes are allowed which means many competitors arrive in glorious vintage bathing costumes, each competitor competes in a heat in several categories including Juniors (U 60’s) Seniors (Over 60’s) To maximise scoring potential the Judges analyze the following elements when scoring waves: Length of ride, directional changes with flow, wave speed and glide, innovative and progressive manoeuvres, style, finesse and enjoyment.

How can you take part?

Whether you plunge into the ocean to take part, spectate from the fantastic setting at Chapel Porth beach, St Agnes or join in the Cornishware WBBC bake off competition where you can enter your homemade cake, a great day of fun and frolics by the sea is guaranteed. For more details see website -

Did you know? 

Bellyboarding is a common sight around the Cornish coast. Riders lay down on their stomachs while riding the waves as opposed to more mainstream surfing where the aim is to stand up.

The World Belly Boarding Championship (WBBC) was first started in 2003 at Chapel Porth by Martyn Ward and Chris Ryan as a memorial contest to the late Arthur Traveller, a Londoner who was a regular visitor with his wooden board at Chapel Porth. From humble beginnings with only a handful of competitors it has now grown into the World Championships we see today with over 300 surfers.

From the beginning it has been a very simple, back-to-basics comp – no wetsuits, no leashes and no swim fins. A bit of wood and a swimsuit is all you need.

John Isaac, stalwart wooden board rider, winner of 2012 Spirit of Bellyboarding award and renowned plywood evangelist says "The World Champs is truly a celebration of British eccentricity combined with a genuine love of splashing about in the sea on little bits of mostly vintage wood ! A competition where woollen swimwear is awarded & sliding shorewards applauded , you'll never forget it !"

The National Trust work hard each year to retain the special character and atmosphere the event provides, which can be tricky when faced with the huge numbers of entrants and increased publicity WBBC receives. Our aim is to welcome all, including new stories and personalities alongside the familiar boards and faces, former Champions and everyone in between. Come along and share in the passion for the traditional prone wooden surfboard. Celebrating those who have ridden, slide and about to glide….

Our good friend Peter Robinson, surf historian and founder of the Museum of British Surfing, Braunton, North Devon says “The art of surf riding – or bellyboarding as people have come to describe it – dates back at least a century here in Britain. Surfing prone on a wooden 'paipo' or bodyboard is in fact one of the original forms of surfing from ancient Hawaii & the Polynesian islands centuries before.

There is evidence of surfing in the UK in the very early 1900s, but it became a popular beach activity in Cornwall and Devon at the end of World War I. A mixture of wealthy Brits travelling to Hawaii & learning to surf, and soldiers chatting to Commonwealth surfers in the trenches combined to create something quintessentially British.

A cup of tea, a cucumber sandwich and a spot of jolly good surf riding in the rolling Atlantic breakers became a must do activity for hundreds of men and women. Their equipment ranged from modified coffin lids to 'Crest Riders' made from ply with a kick in the nose.

Bellyboarding bloomed again after the Second World War as Brits returned to the beaches in their droves, and many thousands of bellyboards were made in the 1950s and 60s to service the growing demand.

It remains the same simple pleasure; an art that remained largely unchanged from the early 20th Century to the present day - being 'hooshed' in on the crest of wave on a simple plank of wood."

Many of these original boards appear at the Champs and are still ridden all across the country in the same exhilarating way. The event is a true celebration of the boards, people and stories that continue to make bellyboarding a great British tradition.



  • Facilities
  • Parking
  • Toilets
  • Restaurant/Cafe
  • Catering
  • Sea views
  • Beach within 2k


  • Disabled access
  • Disabled parking
  • Disabled toilets
  • Guide dogs permitted

Tickets / Price Guides

Ticket Type Ticket Price Ticket Details
Free Admission £0.00 Free Admission

Opening Times

September 4, 2016 - September 4, 2016

A very simple, back-to-basics competition with no wetsuits, no leashes and no swim fins. A bit of wood and a swimsuit is all you need.


Shuttle bus between St Agnes and Chapel Porth. Visit the competition website for more information.

There will be no parking at Chapel Porth car park on the day of the competition. We are planning to offer alternative parking in the area and run a shuttle bus between St. Agnes and Chapel Porth. Visit the competition website for more information.

Contact us


World Bellyboard Championships
Beacon Drive Chapel Porth
St Agnes Cornwall TR5 0NU

What’s nearby

Map of Cornwall © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC BY-SA