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The Secret of Jay Reale's Success!

This weeks much anticipated feature takes us to California, where we couldn't be any more excited to talk to the one and only Jay Reale.

I don't know about anyone else but seeing Jay's style back in the late 80's and 90's certainly shaped my Bodyboarding and I would spend hours trying to master the carves, the cutbacks and the airs that peppered Jay's repertoire both whilst contest surfing or killing it freestyle.

In Jay's own words.........

" I'll be 54 on February 12th!

I grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC in a town called Rockville, but my family moved to Ocean City, Maryland when I was 16. When I was 23, I moved to California and have lived in San Clemente for over 30 years.

I first rode a bodyboard in the summer of 1979, I was riding inflatable rafts (surf mats) before that.

I was already learning how to ride waves on surf mats and bodyboards were the next logical step.

My brother was riding one and our family owned beach rental stands and the surf mats were always popping, so bodyboards looked like a much more durable option. My brother let me ride his board one day and I never looked back.

I loved the speed, the freedom to invent or discover new moves. The sport was really new back then, so we really were just experimenting and that was the most fun part.

There were one or two other local bodyboarders in my town that had been doing it for a while so they were the first influences, but there were no videos, magazines or internet then. Once a few magazines started publishing pictures of guys like Lindholm, Patterson, Sasaki, Severson and Caldwell (Stewart wasn't on the scene yet), that had a profound impact on me and my friends who were into the sport.

I was 16 when I started bodyboarding, so I guess I didn't really have bodyboarding "heroes" until I was about 17 and it was the aforementioned guys above.

We only had a few rare images in magazines to go by, but we would study their hand and body positions on the boards to learn.

The Inlet, 8th Street and 47th street in Ocean City, Maryland was where all the action went down.

My favourite local break would have to be a place I haven't ridden for about a decade, but Pt. Mugu is amazing. It's on a naval base though, so they've really cracked down on getting in there, and unfortunately, I'm so busy with my family and work that I rarely have the time even if I could get in.

In my hometown, I love riding T Street, our local bodyboarding spot, during the summer blackball season. Lots of friends and laughs out there with guys and girls I've been riding with for three decades.

You asked me what my favourite break in the world is , but that's a good question....! So many great spots! I can honestly say to get waves in my old hometown of Ocean City when the waves are good is pretty amazing, but nowadays, anywhere the water is really warm and it's sunny with a sand bottom and wedgy peaks makes me super-happy. Had a great session at Lighthouse Beach in my wife's hometown of Port Macquarie about 6 weeks ago!

The first board I owned was a Morey Proline Red Edge. It was Morey's top-of-the-line board in 1979, the year I got it for Christmas. I was in heaven! My main bodyboarding buddies in those days were Mark Thomas and his brother Scott (nicknames "Buckwheat" and "Stymie" after characters on the "Our Gang" American TV show from the 1920s and 1930s), and a few others, but Mark is still a good friend to this day. Another guy named Richie Barr schooled me in the surf mat days how to properly ride waves.

I haven't done a contest in many years. I don't have the time to spend a full day on the beach waiting for my heat, but during my competitive years, which lasted from 1980-2005 or so, I did hundreds of events all over the world and reached top 5 on the World Tour in both prone and DK. I helped start the DK division on the World Tour and have the distinction of catching the very first wave in the first heat ever of the first event that had a DK division (at Anglet, France) and of course competed on the first-ever World Tour, the GOB. From 2005-2016, I got heavily into endurance racing. I completed 11 full Ironman triathlons and many other shorter ones, as well as three 50-mile trail runs and many 50k and shorter ones. I've taken the past year off from racing so I could afford to do some more traveling in the near future.

This past year, I got to go twice to Mexico, once to Florida for a hurricane swell, once to Australia, and will be going to Fiji in March! I'm still running/training 7 days/week for fitness though.

I have not been a pro since 1999. I now own and operate along with my wife Vicki. I had many amazing sponsors over the years, but my best supporters for sure were Jack Crosby at BB Bomber's Surf Shop in my old hometown, plus my parents for letting me off work to ride waves, and my friends Jeff and Kathy Phillips from the ESA Maryland district for helping me a ton, and Patti Serrano and Mary Lee Christensen for the Morey Sponsorship that lasted through my entire bodyboarding career!

I now ride a custom JL Designs board and I wear both a Body Glove Red Cell and a Hyperflex Voodoo fullsuit this time of year.

I use Rad Pig Hooves flippers and an Shackle Bicep Leash.

I certainly like to encourage bodyboard brands and we sell a lot and definitely encourage fellow bodyboarders to support our sport!

I actually listen to talk radio on my way to the beach every day to get my news. Surfing for me now is for stress relief and I think listening to all the horrible stuff in the news stresses me out sometimes, so getting in the water relieves it. Sometimes post-surf, I'll listen to classic rock, or maybe even some jazz/folk stuff like James Taylor or Michael Buble. Even during my younger pro years I was never the one to listen to music to get psyched up for the surf.

My fondest memories of my pro career are definitely charging any and everything with my friend Mark and also traveling around the east coast with friends for contests, camping in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina for the ESA Championships, and riding waves during snowstorms in the winter in Maryland. It taught me how to deal with some hardship and discomfort to achieve a goal.

I'm lucky to have been amongst some of the first generation of pro bodyboarders. I was the first-ever pro from the USA East Coast and I'm proud of that. I worked very hard to achieve that goal. I took my bodyboarding career very seriously! I finished university before I started as a pro because I knew I would need a backup plan someday. I had the fortune of meeting my wife Vicki through this sport and we had an incredible life traveling the world together during the 90s. Those are some of the best memories of my life. I definitely miss those carefree days. Became best buddies with most of the guys who's pictures I had on my walls and was roommates with Keith Sasaki who taught me a lot about being a professional. Vicki and I started in 1999 when our sponsor contracts expired and running this business since then has been an immense challenge and a tremendous learning experience. It's much more difficult and complicated than we ever imagined, but it's also been very rewarding thanks to the people we've met and the new people we've introduced to our great sport.

We have two kids now and are fortunate to have our health and for me personally, to still get in the ocean nearly every day. That, for me, is one of the most important things in my life. I have an intimate relationship with the ocean. I don't feel normal on days when I don't surf. Just getting salt water on my skin does something for me that I have a tough time explaining, but I can say that no matter what's going on in my life, no matter what difficulties I may be going through, or stresses I might be dealing with, the ocean has always been there for me. It doesn't judge, it soothes me, it excites me, it rejuvenates me and it gives me an escape from life, phones, computers, and the noise of daily life, and if I didn't have that every day, I'm not sure what would happen to me.

Big shout out to LidLife Bodyboarding loving the blogs and thanks for featuring me..... "

Photo credits:

Chris Stroh

Mike Searle


Nathan Wise

Joe Evans

Don't forget for all your Bodyboarding needs please follow the link on our website straight to Jay and Vicki's ebodyboarding store.

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Until next week when we head over to Chile to catch up with Valentina Diaz, until then, enjoy and if your Lucky get some waves, it's pumping in the UK right now........

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