As part of our ongoing 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 month we asked Gold Coast’s Nick Gornall to give us his top five (see it here if you haven’t already done so).

This time around we cast the spotlight on three times world champion and notorious caffeine addict, Ben Player.

1. Mike Stewart El Rollo, Pipeline, early 1990s

It was around the early ’90s that I first became aware of bodyboarding and Mike’s el rollo in the Pipe event was the benchmark of the sport for me.

I first saw the roll on the news (this back when bodyboarding still used to get on the news), but it was also on the first of the Underground Tapes film series. I watched that movie so many times, but after a few years that one wave of Mike’s was rendered unwatchable on our VHS copy because we used to slow-mo it and pause it so many times. 

2. Ryan Hardy Invert, the Box

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It may not be the shot BP is talking about, but Hardy’s inverts at Box are always a special occasion. Taken during the 2011 Box Contest by Sacha Specker

I was about 15 when I started picking up my first sponsorships and there was a crew of Australian bodyboarders all roughly around the same age that started getting sponsored and competing against each other around the same time – guys like Andrew Lester and Damian King.

Then one day I opened an issue of Riptide and inside was a photo for a Billabong advert of a new guy that I’d never seen before. His name was Ryan Hardy and he was doing a giant invert at the Box. It was the biggest invert I had ever seen at the time and it empowered me to see the guys of our generation making headway in the magazines and in events. 

3. Pipeline, Hawaii

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To me Pipe will always be the Mecca of surfing. It has sculpted surfing and bodyboarding, and will always be the main stage for riders to exhibit their talent. It was especially important for me because it was the surf spot that Mike (Stewart) always surfed in all of the movies I watched as a kid. It’s an incredible wave and location, but also a massive part of bodyboarding’s history. 

4. Damian King, Backdoor, Hawaii, 2003 Pipeline Event

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Damien King celebrates his 2003 Pipeline win. Photo IBA.

I remember watching the event and I knew Kingy had a really good chance of winning. He had been ripping all season and was leading the Tour leading into the event with wins at Teahupoo and Shark Island (Kingy actually came fourth in 2003 – he won the SIC in 2001).

3x World Champions from Australia Damian King and Ben Player. North Shore of Hawaii 2011. Photo- SPJ
Damien King and Ben Plyer at the North Shore in 2011. Photo SPJ

There was one really defining wave that he caught in that final. He took off deep at Backdoor, spun into the tube, got shacked and came out with an invert. To me, I felt that this was the first time that someone from our generation took control and dominated the whole year on World Tour. At the time I was jealous of Kingy, but I was also proud to be a part of that generation of bodyboarders, and to be Kingy’s mate. I feel that wave and Kingy’s World Title success showed the world what our generation was capable of and gave all of us confidence to try and follow in Kingy’s footsteps. 

5. Pipeline, Hawaii, 2005 World Tour Event Final
My last wave in the final of the 2005 Pipe content

In the 2005 Pipe event I had to place second or above (to win the World Title), which was no easy feat. I had Damien King, Ryan Hardy and Cedric Dufuare to beat in order to win – they wouldn’t give me an inch.

Back then there was no live scoring for the event, but I knew that Kingy looked like he was leading and Ryan had a very strong score for a wave at Backdoor, and if he got another small score he might jump up into the lead.

In the last few seconds of the Final a small wave came through, and I felt as though I was too deep, but Ryan was looking to take-off, so I took off to hold him off. The wave held up and gave me a section that I hit and inverted off. That last wave gave me enough points to overtake Ryan and jump up into second place. But had I not seen Ryan there on the inside, and used that as motivation to push into the wave, I wouldn’t have succeeded in winning the World Title and who knows where my career might have gone.