Becoming a pro athlete is a dream that many of us have. It presents the idea of fame and wealth, all while doing what you love the most.
Pro bodyboarders, although enjoying the fame, struggle to make a career based on bodyboarding alone, partly because of the ups and downs of the popularity of the sport, as well as the high competition entry fees.
How Much Do Pro Bodyboarders Make?
Due to disclosure agreements with sponsors, it’s impossible to know how much a pro bodyboarder makes each year, but with a combination of sponsorships, prize money, as well as merchandise, and other income channels, pro bodyboarders have an uncapped earning potential.
Although pro bodyboarders can make thousands of dollars each month, it is a lot harder to make a living as a pro bodyboarder than it is for other professional athletes.
Let’s take a look at how pro bodyboarders make an income as well as how much they could potentially make.
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How Much Money Do Pro Bodyboarders Make?
Pro bodyboarding is a complicated situation as those who find themselves in the top rankings with the best sponsors could easily make over USD 200,000 a year when combining their prize money, salaries, and personal hustles such as websites, affiliate links, and YouTube channels, etc.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, pros who find themselves unsponsored will need to pay for their own competition entrance fees, transport and accommodation costs, and all of this with no guarantee of taking home the prize.
Along with not being 1st coming less fame, which in turn makes personal gigs more difficult.
Most pro bodyboarders find themselves in the latter group and need to supplement their professional bodyboarding lifestyle with a more ordinary day-to-day grind.
It is hard to say how much money pro bodyboarders make from bodyboarding alone, but taking into account that the 2022 IBC World Tour calendar consists of 38 events over 6 divisions and only a USD 534,000 prize pool, we can assume it is not that much if you aren’t coming in first.
Although half a million dollars seems like a lot, compared to other extreme sports such as stand-up surfing, where some surfers make up to USD 2 million a year, this is extremely low.
This income can, and does in many cases, become negative as non-sponsored bodyboarders that don’t win have still paid to be there and therefore leave with less than they came with.
Types of Income as a Pro Bodyboarders
Ad prize money is neither consistent nor is it guaranteed. Pro bodyboarders use different methods of income to sustain their bodyboarding lifestyle.
Some of these include but are not limited to Contest prize money, sponsorships, YouTube, social media, websites, and personal merchandise.
One of the most common streams of income for pro bodyboarders is from their sponsors.
Although there are disclosure agreements between the sponsors and bodyboarders about their specific terms, they often include salaries, incentives for winning, royalties for photo shoots and advertising, and commissions for sponsor-related merchandise.
Sponsors will not only provide monetary compensation for the collaboration but will often provide the bodyboarder with free or discounted bodyboarding gear and apparel, as well as pay for their competition entry fees and in some cases, their travel and accommodation fees as well.
That being said, bodyboarding sponsorships are not easy to come by, thanks to the up and down nature of the sport, and those that do find themselves with sponsors often still need to pay for their own gear and travel costs.
Contest Prize Money
Contest prize money is one of the biggest incomes from pro bodyboarders, although it is far less consistent and reliable.
As there is no guarantee that you will place in the top few competitors, let alone win the tournament, contest prize money only makes up a select few’s income streams.
Those that do find themselves placed in the top percent can find themselves walking away with over USD 100,000 in prize money.
For those that don’t manage to make it to the top of the rankings, zero is a very common number.
Websites and Social Media
Websites and social media platforms are commonly used among professional bodyboarders to both promote themselves and their career, as well as to create platforms on which they can sell products and find sponsorships.
Two of the most common ways pro bodyboarders monetize their websites, and social media pages are by selling their own merchandise or using affiliate links to appropriate products.
Once pro bodyboarders have found a decent following, they have an opportunity to sell their personal merchandise to their fans.
This can be anything from custom-made pro-bodyboards and surfing equipment to books and online courses.
Depending on their audience, as well as where their ambitions lie, once pro bodyboarders take to selling their own products, the direction and what the product is will be up to them, although, as assumed, it will usually be bodyboarding related.
Other than selling their own merchandise and services, there is the option of selling the products of others and making a small percentage off the sale.
One example of this is selling watches, sunglasses, or bags through Amazon links.
Although this isn’t usually the main earner for pro bodyboarders, it does help them stick to the career they love.
Youtube, although not exactly bodyboarding, has become a huge income stream for many pro bodyboarders who need to supplement their sponsorships and competition winnings.
This may not seem like a lot, but when you look at a professional’s YouTube channel, such as Ian Campbell’s (one of the world’s best bodyboarders), you can see how hundreds of thousands of views spread across dozens of videos can quickly add up.
Not only does YouTube pay for ads on these videos, but the platform provides an additional means of advertising merchandise and affiliate links.
Can You Make a Living as a Pro Bodyboard Surfer?
Although it is common to think that when you go pro, you will have all the fame and riches you ever dreamed of, lesser-supported sports such as bodyboarding can often fall short of this dream.
This is not to say that you can’t make a living as a pro bodyboarder, and some people do, but this is far and between, and even some of the world’s best bodyboarders find the need to supplement their incomes in one way or another.
Although competition prizes can be large and finding a good sponsor can create a steady income, not all pros find themselves in both or either category, and sponsorships tend to come and go as the popularity of the sport ebbs and flows.
How Much Does a Pro Surfer Make a Year?
Surfing, as a globe extreme sport, has much more support than bodyboarding, and because of this, the salaries, popularity, and competition prizes are much higher.
Not to mention numerous more sponsors and competitions to choose from.
Because of the popularity and money involved in surfing, the average qualifying surfer makes around USD 65,000 per year.
That being said, some top surfers such as Kelly Slater can bring in well over USD 2 million per year from prize winnings alone.
This is nearly four times the total prize pool, over 6 divisions the IBC is offering for the bodyboarding world tour in 2022.
Is Bodyboarding a Competitive Sport?
Bodyboarding (and surfing alike) is a sport that is both practiced competitively as well as purely for enjoyment.
Although the popularity of the professional side of bodyboarding seems to come and go, there are still contests that take place year-round in various locations across the globe.
In this case, an individual who is a professional bodyboarder or who aspires to be will take to the competitive side of the sport and thus spend their time in the water training to be the best at all aspects of bodyboarding.
On the other hand, many bodyboarders never aspire to go pro, nor to ever bodyboard in a competition.
For those that fall into this category (which is most), they take to the casual side of bodyboarding, which means enjoying the fun side of the sport with none of the pressure of competition.
That being said, unless you are alone in the water or with very few people, there will always be a sense of competition for the waves that roll in.
Who Is the Best Bodyboarder in the World?
When it comes to who the best bodyboarder in the world is, there is a big mix of opinions.
Although it’s not possible to say who the best bodyboarder is, the following are some of the best-rated bodyboarders in the world and constantly come up when the best are mentioned.
Considered to be one of the most successful professional bodyboarders of all time, Mike Stewart has become one of bodyboarding’s first stars.
He has not only managed to make a name for himself as a pro bodyboarder but is an accomplished sports event organizer as well as a businessman.
Mike is a Hawaiian-born surfer and is one of the best tube riders on the globe.
One of the most promising bodyboarders of the 21st century, Alexandra was born in 1998 in the Canary Islands and took up bodyboarding at the age of nine.
Competing professionally from the age of twelve and winning her first world title at sixteen, Alexandra dominates slabs and fast barreling waves.
Following her first title, Alexandra went on to win her second APB World Bodyboarding title in Nazaré, Portugal, which solidified her name as one of the world’s best bodyboarders, all while at the age of only seventeen.
Guilherme is a force to be reckoned with in the bodyboarding world and possibly the best competitive bodyboarder on the planet.
Winning six world titles and two gold medals at the ISA World Surfing Games in 1996 and 2000, Guilherme (also known as GT) is a natural at the sport.
Not only has GT made a name for himself as a top tear bodyboarder, but has made himself wider known by his signature bodyboards created under the label “GT Boards”.
Brazilian Neymara Carvalho is without a doubt the most successful competitive women’s bodyboarder of all time.
Over her career, she has won five IBA World Tour titles and founded “Instituto Neymara Carvalho”, an NGO that helps underprivileged children through sports.
If that is not enough, Neymara has even won an event held in Brazil while she was 5 months pregnant.
Other Note-Worthy Bodyboarders
- Iain Campbell
- Ayaka Suzuki
- Dave Hubbard
- Jeff Hubbard
- Joana Schenker
Pro bodyboarders can make anything from zero dollars from bodyboarding-related income per year to over 200,000 USD.
This depends greatly on sponsors, prize winnings, and other related sales such as merchandise and royalties.
Although this is a large amount of money, pro bodyboarders get paid far less than other extreme sports, with stand-up surfing included.
Although it is possible to have a career solely supported by bodyboarding, it is no easy task to accomplish.