Skimboarding is one of the most famous board sports. In this sport, one rides on a board and does many tricks on different types of water bodies. In skimboarding, the skimmer drops the skimboard into the thin layer of water near the beach. They slide the board into the water to catch and ride on the upcoming wave and catch it back to the shore. From the beginning of skimboarding in the 1920s till now, skimboarding has seen many changes and advancements. There are major changes in the shape and size of the board. New water bodies were included in the list where one can enjoy skimboarding. Exciting and fun tricks were added to increase the enjoyment of the sport. Now it’s time to get a good look into the exciting history of this amazing sport.
Evolution of skimboards:
- Rounded boards of the 1920s:
Skimboarding finds its origin back in the 1920s in Southern California. At the Laguna Beach, lifeguards George Griffeth and his friend, Jimmy were the 1st known source of this sport. These two friends wanted to do surfing on the local shore breaks. But they ended up inventing a new sport as the local shore breaks were too fast and shallow for surfing. The earliest skimboard made by them was a round disk made from redwood. This board helped them slide across the seawater. They connected two planks of redwood with three strips of oak using machine screws and square nuts. The boards were straight-cut, with no curves, about five feet long. These boards were linked behind a board like a wakeboard.
- Pizza board of the 1940s:
For 20 years skimmers used the rounded boards. After some alterations to it, the board took a new look in a couple of decades. This time the round-shaped skimboard evolved into a “pizza board”. These pizza-shaped boards became popular and standard shape for skimboards in the 1940s. However, this standard changed after some time. In the 1960s a new shape was introduced as a standard.
- Surfboard-shape boards of the 1960s:
In the 1960s the newly introduced skimboards resembled surfboards a lot. It was just a smaller and wider version of a surfboard. Tex Hanes, the co-founder of Victoria skimboards, notes,
“Locals in Laguna took the traditional round boards and stretched them out into ovals to carve off the waves that break right on the shore better.” That’s when the sport came into recognition. This sport was called ‘skid boarding’ until 1976 when Victoria Skimboard started its journey. Currently, it’s widely known as skimboarding or skimming. The founders of Victoria Skimboards introduced the first skimboard with foam core and cover made of fiberglass and resin in the 1980s. After this, high-end surf shops started keeping skimboards alongside surfboards. Surfboards got quick popularity and also fell into a dark phase very fast due to kiteboarding, surfing, etc.
Types of waterbodies:
- Wave riding skimboarding:
Wave riding skimboarding was the initial form of the sport. This style is the most popular one in skimboarding. Most of the skimmers are interested in and skilled in wave riding skimboarding. The skimboarding competitions are also mostly for this style. You have to work hard and use many techniques to master this form of skimboarding. The boards that are in use these days are the result of many trials and error corrections. Wave riding boards are referred to as “skimboards.” The shape of the board doesn’t change much due to different styles of skimboarding. One needs to choose their skimboard based on their body structure, skill, and style. Wave riding skimboards are especially very popular. It’s built to enable various advanced tricks. These boards can reach deeper water. The waves can act as a ramp for the rider to fly in the air when they hit them. These boards have special flotation characteristics. Due to these, it’s easier to perform exciting and eye-catching tricks.
For making wave riding skimboards, most manufacturers use high-density, closed-cell foam. It doesn’t absorb water. They use a Fiber-reinforced polymer to cover the foam. It forms a strong outer layer. Fiberglass boards are far better than wooden ones in terms of speed, weight, and control of the water. This is also better for doing tricks and moves while riding the waves. The outer layer is strong but rocks and shells can easily damage it like other composite boards. A solution to this problem is the carbon fiber board. These are even better in terms of weight, durability, and longevity. But these types of boards are very expensive. Only professional skimmers ride these boards as they have to ride big waves. The weight of the board has to be such that it can float on water but does not fly away in light wind. The skimboard needs to be fast for enjoying skimboarding to the fullest. It should be perfect according to personal ability and desire.
- Flatland or inland skimboarding:
Flatland skimboarding is a form of skimboarding where the sport is practiced in a non-costal water body. It can be in a lake, pond, river, or even a skimboard pool. Inland skimboarding started back in the 1970s in Sacramento, California. People would ride their homemade skimboards in the river there. With time people started using different props to do tricks while enjoying flatland skimboarding sessions.
Inland skimboards are usually made of wood with a hpl bottom. Wave riding skimmers call these boards “woodies”. Wooden boards have an uneven surface and are good for doing tricks. These are strong and don’t get damaged easily. These can be easily made at home and are a great one if you are just getting started. Many professionals use this kind of board as well.
- Becoming a global sport:
Skimboarding was initiated in California. With passing time, it has spread across the globe. Currently, this is more popular in many other parts of the world than where it originated. It has a huge fanbase in Africa and Europe. Many good quality beaches have been discovered all across the world for skimboarding. Though skimboarding is not as popular as surfing, this sport has changed the world from the moment it was introduced. People who have a passion for this sport, it has changed their lives.
In a short time, skimboarding reached the northwest of Canada and later Europe gaining massive popularity. Small skimboarding communities were formed. They started riding in rivers, ponds, etc. Soon it gains an identity as a member of the water sports club. The beaches on Florida’s west coast have some perfect locations, like – Sarasota, Clearwater, and Anna Maria Island. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico also has perfect waves for skimboarding. Many people from North America, Europe (Portugal, France, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands), Australia, Asia, the Middle East, and South America also enjoy this water sport.
Flatland skimboarding has increased its popularity level as it’s easier than any other water sport. For inland skimming, you can choose any of the water bodies, like – lakes, rivers, ponds, puddles, etc. If you do not want to go out skimming, you can easily make a skimboard pool in your yard and enjoy the same. In the US, there are states with no border with the ocean. People from these states enjoy inland skimming a lot. This style of skimboarding is also popular in British Columbia, Ontario, Australia, Wellington, and New Zealand. They have flatland skimboarding communities. In Europe, the largest skimboarder group is in Poland. Skimming is very popular in places where surfing is impossible, like, Boa Viagem, Recife, Brazil, where surfers have a threat of shark attacks.
The first annual World Skimboard Championships was held in 1976 at Aliso Beach in Laguna. From the moment this competition was introduced, skimboarding left the realm of a sport for fun. Victoria Skimboards sponsored The Vic since 1977. It is the longest-running skimboarding contest in the world. This is the most prestigious competition in the world of skimboarding. This is held every year at Aliso Beach in Laguna. Every year the World Amateur Championships of Skimboarding is organized on New Orleans Street in Dewey Beach, Delaware. Every year in August, The Florida Pro/Am is held on Vilano Beach and Vero Beach. These are known as the best East Coast skimboarding locations.
In North America, two centralized organizations hold events – United Skim Tour and Skim USA. At present, the UST is for professional competition and Skim USA is for amateurs. Skim USA competitions also have a professional division.
In Europe, the European Skimboard League consists of 4 stages. This is mostly held in the summer. The stages are organized in Portugal, France, The UK & Spain. The UK event is held at Tolcarne Beach in Newquay, Cornwall.
Every year a flatland skimboarding contest takes place in Federal Way Washington, the U.S.A at Dash Point State Park. The name of the event is DB Dash point Open. The Dash Point Pro/Am contest has been taking place for thirteen years.
Skimboarding contests bring the skimmers excitement as they find their rankings based on these contests. These also are good opportunities for companies to bring their products to light. Austin Keen, Bill Bryan, Brad Domke, Adrien Raza, Morgan Just, Grady Archbold, James Lovett, Sam Stinnett, Paulo Prietto, Brandon Sears, Brandon Rothe, Jackson Tenney, and Colton Wallace are some of the famous skimmers.
Skimboarding is gaining international interest very rapidly. This has created a very competitive industry for the development of this sport. There is a huge competition in making skimboards of good quality at a reasonable price. Skimboard manufacturers sponsor professional skimmers. Paulo Prietto from California and Brad Domke from Florida are sponsored by Exile Skimboard. These companies sponsor both amateur and professionals. They give these teams boards for free or at a minimum cost. These companies also bear all their traveling expenses when the professional skimmer has to make a tour outside. In return, the athletes promote the products of the company. Three major companies make Skimboards. They are – Victoria Skimboards, Exile Skimboards, and Zap Skimboards. These companies share a huge part of the sports market.
Tips for skimboarding:
Skimboarding is very exciting once you get to know the basics. Now we are well aware of the history of this sport. Get hold of your skimboard and decide on where to ride your skimboard for the 1st time. Here are some tips before you jump on to your board:
- We do not recommend skimming with a surfboard. You may not face any problems for some time but it’s not the right thing to do.
- Make sure you’ve waxed the upper part of your board. Waxing this part will help you with your grip on the board.
- If you are scared of water, you can also skim on grass and puddles.
- Keep up with more and more practice sessions. Practice makes things perfect.
- Check before getting into the water for any rocks or things that might injure you or damage your skimboard.
Skimboarding is one of the most enjoyable water sports. From the previous discussion, we learn about its rich and exciting history. It has gained much popularity in a short time. Getting started with skimboarding is easy and requires little maintenance. It’s easier to enjoy skimboarding than other water sports. This sport does not depend on waves or weather conditions. Preparing for skimboarding is easier too. This sport combines water sports with athletics. This fun sport is not free from dangers and injuries. Fractures, limb dislocations, twisted ankles, and bruises are part of a skimmer’s daily life. They often get injuries from hitting a rock or other obstacles on their way to skimming. Sometimes they might get an injury while riding on the board due to mismeasurement. Skimmers don’t drown as much as surfers do as skimming is mostly a sport of shallow water. Skimmers need to be very careful to keep their surroundings safe for skimming. This will make their skimming session enjoyable and tension-free.