Thomas Hugh Morey is the inventor and father of the bodyboard and of bodyboarding
He was born in Detroit, on August 15, 1935. When he was just a grom,
Morey learned to bodysurf on his father's back.
After graduating in Mathematics at the University of Southern California, Morey used his professional skills to develop several surf-related innovations. Having worked in composite manufacturing and engineering at Douglas Aircraft, Tom knew the groundbreaking post-war materials.
He quit his stable job and founded his own companies, with waves as a background inspiration for business. He rapidly started inventing: the first-ever concave nose pocket (1954), the “Wing Tip” (1955), the interchangeable fin system (1964), paper surfboard (1965), and ultimately the bodyboard (1971).
Initially, he developed a six-foot board with skegs, with an epoxy glass bottom ad soft polyethylene deck, but the design was a flop. Fortunately, the solution appeared to be simple. He just cut a nine-foot piece of foam into two pieces.
Tom Morey wanted to call it the S.N.A.K.E. (Side, Navel, Arm, Knee, Elbow), but soon “Boogie” sounded better. And so, immediately after putting an advertisement in Surfer Magazine, he started receiving orders in his mailbox.
A couple of months later, he was selling dozens of bodyboards a week; in 1977, Morey Boogie sold 80,000 units and employed a total of 100 workers in Carlsbad and Mexico.
The original Morey Boogie Board was 45 inches (114 centimeters) long, 25 inches (63 centimeters) wide, and 2,25 inches (5.7 centimeters) thick, and had a total weight of 3.75 pounds (1.7 kilograms).
The early Morey Boogie Boards were shaped by Tom in his backyard, glued together, and finished off with tape. They were sold at $37, but later Tom understood that glue was affecting his health and started selling a kit (core, tape, and skins) for $25, and without the glue.
“There was no turning back at that point. Plus I found that I could shape the foam using an iron if I put a sheet of the Honolulu Advertiser down on it first,” explained Tom Morey.
The next day, he put the finishing touches and tested it at Honels, a surf spot located on the west side of the Big Island.
So, on the 7th July, 1971, the bodyboard had been invented in Hawaii. By the end of that year, Tom Morey traveled to California to present his latest invention to the surf industry. He ended up signing a deal with G&S Surfboards.
“I was thinking ‘It turns, it’s durable, it can be made cheaply, it’s lightweight, it’s safe. God, this could be a really big thing!”, added the inventor.
Thomas Hugh Morey
Article & images courtesy of surfertoday.com