As part of a new series by guest contributor Tim Leeson (former Riptide editor), we ask some of the biggest names in the bodyboarding industry what are the five most important waves of their career.

This can include individual waves, certain breaks or even waves that they have seen in their career – either in a video section or real life. We left it to the riders to decide how they wanted to approach the question.

Last week, we featured Hawaii’s Jeffrey Hubbard with his five most important waves. This week, it is West Australian style master and part time Bali local, Ryan “Hardballs” Hardy.

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1. Catching my first whitewash, Redgate Beach.

I was all of six years old when I caught my first whitewash down at Redgate Beach, Margaret River, in 1985. I remember clearly my Dad pushing me into the whitewash on a snapped foamie and I was hanging on for grim death as I was launched beach-ward at what felt like super speed at the time. Riding the foam felt so powerful, so exciting and fun!

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The Hardy boys. Taken ?

2. My first non-hand-drag spin, Rivermouth Beach.

In 1987, I’d turned nine years old and I was down at Rivermouth Beach in Margaret River.  It had been less than a year since my Dad had bought me a pair of flippers to ride with. After months of pulling hand-drag spins, flipperless, in the whitewash, I have a great memory of riding an open-faced wave from out the back, then sliding to the front of my board, lifting my flippers up and turning my head into a slow, but smooth spin and then being carried on down the line.  It was my first real manoeuvre as an official bodyboarder and it was the coolest feeling of my life!

3. My first set wave at The Box.

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Ryan Hardy featured in the pages of an old Riptide Magazine

After spending two years watching my brother, Gene, charging heavy, set waves out at the Box and constantly refusing his attempts at coaxing me out to the peak, I found the courage to step-up on one perfect day. I was 13 years old and there were just one of my peers out.  I was sitting on the deep north peak. I turned around and committed to paddling into a 4ft heavy, barrelling, set wave – racing the barrel from start to finish, where the lip eventually squashed me.  I got rolled, but came out unscathed and raced back out into the lineup with a huge smile on my face, just babbling how amped I was to my mate.  My love for pushing myself in heavy waves was born right in that very moment of first pushing myself over the ledge of that original, heavy Box wave.

4. Teahupoo, spin in the barrel

I was 20-years old and matched up against my lifetime idols, Mike Stewart and Guilherme Tamega, in the final of the 2000 Tahiti Skins event. I was completely overwhelmed and star struck. How could I be competing against these two legends? Their surfing styles and careers I had idolised for the best part of my career. However, beneath this star-struck daze, lay a deep competitive desire and motivation to fulfil my own destiny.

After an initial strong barrel ride in the final, I knew I was in the game. Now I just had to now wait my turn for a set wave. I knew catching another set would be my only chance of being able to come out on top.  Sure enough, an 8ft wall of steel approached and I had never felt so committed and focused in my whole life. With the weight of the moment bearing down on me, I knew I had to surf this wave to its fullest potential.  After controlling the drop, I took a quick look down the line, and as I did a flash of inspiration sparked in my mind. During the previous six-months I’d been constantly going for spins in the barrel. So as I glanced at this ‘Chopes canvas, my trained mind saw a perfect moment to throw a 360 spin inside the tube. Although this ‘Chopes wave was significantly bigger than any other barrel I’d spun in previously!

Above: Ryan Hardy with his perfectly executed spin in the barrel during the final of the 2000 Tahiti Skins. Footage by No Friends/Stoker

My practice paid off and I executed the spin perfectly, keeping my speed as I finished the spin and drove forward through the last barrel section and out into the safety of the channel with my fist raised.  I’d done it! With this wave and this win, in such a monumental contest for the sport at the time, I had reached my full potential as a rider and realised my dream of becoming a professional bodyboarder on the international scene.

5. Freefalling into The Right

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Ryan Hardy’s massive freefall at The Right

In 2009, as a 30-year old, I freefell into The Right, WA.

In the two years before this session I’d been living on the Gold Coast, hence I missed out on the initial sessions that Brad (Hughes), Chad (Jackson) and the boys had scored in that time – just as they were discovering the potential of this incredible wave. The wave looked like the sickest thing I had ever seen! It was a giant version of the Box and only a few hours from my hometown.

Throughout the period of time that the fella’s were first scoring at The Right I was struggling through some time away from bodyboarding and the associated travelling, as I battled to adjust to living with my recent diagnosis of Bipolar disorder.  My confidence had hit an all-time low and I remember looking at the photos of this wave and thinking it looked so heavy and scary.  I couldn’t imagine myself ever trying to surf the place – let alone paddling in!

Above: Ryan Hardy freefalls at The Right. Footage: Chris White

As time wore on and I became healthy again, my confidence was gradually restored, and I returned to living my dream of following the pro bodyboarding lifestyle.

Photos and video of The Right were constantly emerging and they kept becoming more and more alluring to me, and by the time I made the move back west, late in 2008, I had made a promise to myself to get down to The Right and have a go at paddling in!

In April 2009, my chance finally came. The first solid swell of the year was bombarding the coast and I had my sights set on paddling The Right. It was on!

Above: Another wave during the same session at The Right. Footage: Chris White

I had a sick session out there that day; paddling into a bunch of the heaviest waves I’d ever taken off on. The “freefall wave” in particular was probably my biggest wave that day and was one of the most memorable waves of what could be one of best sessions of my life.  The swells come in so thick at The Right, you have to be so on top of your game to get under the ledge and paddle your ass off to beat the fast moving swell. Then you have to manage the freefall, which will take all your ability. It was definitely the most challenging wave I’ve ridden and tested every bit of my skill to paddle in and ride out of it alive.

For me, paddling into heavy waves like that is the ultimate rush in bodyboarding.

 

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