Fringe surfing – 6 awesome fun alternative ways to enjoy your wave riding.

Fringe surfing has taken off in recent years. For those not aware fringe surfing is all about alternative ways to wave ride away from your standard surfboard. One of the reasons fringe surfing has grown is because of a lack of perfect surfing conditions often. Fringe disciplines don’t require good waves hence why they’re often preferred.

EXIT watersports accessories for fringe surfing activities.

EXIT provides a range of watersports accessories that are perfect for fringe surfing enthusiasts. The XRail wetsuit hanger is the most efficient type on the market today. It’ll get your wetty dry and keep it at its best for longer. Which means less petrochemical rubber in landfills.

Other EXIT goodies include teh BUX wetsuit change bucket, SUX suction uprail, FYX wetsuit repair kit and more. Check out the online shop for all your fringe surfing accessory needs.

Why fringe surfing?

Fringe surfing activities have always been there. Right from back in the day, before modern surfboards became popular, people would ride waves in some form. Often used were wooden bellyboards. Which still remain popular to this day.

The emphasis with all fringe surfing activities is fun. The seriousness that can sometimes befall surfing isn’t present. Which is why many riders prefer it. And fringe surf activities don’t require good quality waves. Broken white water is often enough for some sliding smiles to be had.

Bodysurfing – the headline discipline.

There are plenty of surfers who also body surf. Pro bodyboarder and renowned Hawaiian waterman Mike Stewart can often be found bodysurfing the local breaks around his home of Oahu. The GOAT of surfing, Kelly Slater, has also be known to slide a few liquid walls sans surf sled.

All exponents of bodysurfing will tell you it’s the purest way to ride a wave. And it teaches lots about ocean swells and how the surf works. In Cornwall, there’s been a gradual uptake of bodysurfing in recent years with plenty more discovering the sport daily.

Matt surfing.

Getting quite popular in recent times matt surfing is a hybrid form of bellyboarding, bodyboarding and bodysurfing. An inflatable (often custom made) matt is used for the practise. Which can take a while to master by all accounts.

Once you dial in riding a matt there’s no going back. Flexing the matt can deliver a different directional feel when on a wave. As such. matt surfing is extremely addictive and totally against the grain of conventional surfing.


Bellyboarding has been practised for many years. It was even indulged in before surfing in the UK. There’s plenty of evidence of this to be found online.

Belyyboards are shaped wooden planks not too dissimilar to bodyboards. Although they have next to zero buoyancy. Whilst unbroken waves ‘out back’ can be ridden on bellyboards most sliders tend to stay in the shallows and catch broken frothy swells. As such it’s an easily accessible wave sport that isn’t too dangerous.

Is bodyboarding fringe?

Bodyboards – as we know them – were invented by Tom Morey in 1971. Initially, they were thought of as kooky but momentum grew and before long the sport had really caught on. Lying prone, catching waves, appealed to many. However the performance envelope was soon pushed.

These days hardcore bodyboarders are seen as hellmen and women. Chasing super gnarly slab type waves they seriously charge. The layman, however, can still make use of the bodyboard and keep things more mellow if they choose.

What’s tray surfing?

Tray surfing requires a tray, much like those you find in fast food outlets. These modified trays can then be used as oversized hand planes for bodysurfers catching waves. The tray helps as a glide guide as well as directional changes.

A small hadrcore crew of tray surfers exists in the UK. And whilst it may look a little bonkers the proof’s in the pudding.

And hand planing?

Hand planes are slightly smaller than trays and attach to hands but work in much the same way. They’re used to guide riders along waves and help when directional changes are required.

Hand planes are sometimes very artisan products shaped out of natural materials. Plastic types do exist but aficionados prefer the warmth of wood.

What else?

Fringe surfing can be anything at all that’s not conventional surfboard riding. Even surfskis and wave kayaks could now be classed as fringe. As not too many people ride craft such as this. 

The bottom line with fringe surfing is that it’s fun and a break from the norm. Some riders see it as the antithesis to an over-marketed surfing industry. So in some ways, it echoes punk attitudes to wave riding, harking back to a bygone era. As we always say at Exit, however, ‘get out and live’ however you choose to…

Check out the Exit online shop for all your fringe surfing watersports accessories here.

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