Skimboarding is an activity that was born in the late 1920’s when Laguna Beach lifeguards would use thin pieces of wood to slide on the flat water along the sand. Today, the fun beach activity has evolved to a rather popular action sport at any beach spot where the conditions are right. There is even a professional skimboarding league where the world’s best skimboarders travel the globe to skim and compete at some of the best skimboarding beaches.
Skimboarding has been one of my favorite activities for about 9 years and I’m still trying to improve. Most people I talk to who are familiar with the sport often talk about how hard it was for them to learn as first or how they would hurt themselves and give up trying. In this tutorial, I hope to teach you the basics of what you need to begin skimboarding and the basics of how to get on your board. I'll teach you some helpful tips and tricks along the way that will hopefully encourage you to keep improving at what I think is the most fun sport there is.
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Step 1: The Board
Firstly, you are going to need a board. Skimboards come in many different shapes,
sizes, and materials ranging from wood to carbon fiber. The cheapest skimboards are going to be about $30 and made out of wood while some of the best pro model boards available go for about $500. Like most other things, the best quality boards are going to be the most expensive, so if money is an issue you might want to wage how much use you will get out of the board to help you determine what kind you get. Aside from that, I recommend getting your first board at a surf shop near your beach destination and getting help picking one out from an employee. In general, a good rule of thumb is to stand up straight holding your board upright on the ground vertically; the tip of the board should reach about chest height. If you don’t like what you see in the store or buying in person is not an option, there are plenty of retailers online with tons of information about all the boards that they sell.
Secondly, you might want to invest in some board accessories. At the very least, it is helpful to apply surf wax to the top surface of your board. Most boards have a smooth epoxy glazing which make it easier to glide on the water. However, when your board gets wet and you are try to jump on with your bare feet it is really easy to slip and fall. This is where surf wax comes in handy. Most all surf wax comes in a solid little cylinder or square that you can hold in your hand. To apply the wax to your board simply apply some pressure and scribble like you would with a crayon on the top surface of your board so you can see the wax sticking to the board wherever you draw. Getting it all over the board doesn’t hurt, but the main parts you want to have the wax are where your feet would go.
If you are serious about your skimboarding, traction pads are also a great investment. Traction pads serve the same purpose as wax but are much more effective and are meant to be permanent on your board. If you want to get into wave riding they are almost a necessity to be successful.
Step 2: The Beach
Finally, you are going to need a beach! Depending on the type of water you skim on there are two main kinds of skimboarding: “wave riding” and “flat ground”. Flat ground skimboarding is possible at almost every beach available with sand but also possible in any place where there are low levels of water where it is still shallow enough to run through like some creeks or marsh-like areas. Wave riding is a more advanced style of skimboarding that involves getting onto your board like you would in flat ground, but the objective is to ride your board out into the ocean, turn on a wave, and ride the wave back to shore similar to surfing. So the most ideal skimboarding beaches will have downward sloping sand that leads to the water with waves that curl relatively close to shore to turn on. If you look up any professional skimboarding contest, this is most likely what you will see the pros doing but also making it look easy by adding spins and tricks into their ride.
So before you start riding those waves you are going to need to learn how to “Run-Drop-and Slide”.
Step 3: Safety and Commiting
Learning to skimboard can be frustrating and intimidating. Firstly, you should accept the fact that you will fall down. Skimboarding can be a very dangerous sport to yourself and others on the beach so you must be aware of your surroundings at all times. That being said, getting over the fear of falling as quickly as possible will help you immensely because one of the biggest parts to being successful at skimboarding is committing. It takes a lot of time and practice to learn how to balance on your board and time your drop, so I’m going to try to explain the best way to get started.
Step 4: Getting Started
To get a feel for what it is like to slide on your board, most people like to hold their board with both hands, one on the tail end and the other about half up the side and slide it down the beach, chase after it, then jump on with both feet. This is a good way to get a feel for your board and have fun sliding a little bit, but it is also an easy way to land flat on your back if you don’t have a good stance and balance when you land on the board.
The most effective way to keep your momentum while transitioning from running with the board in your hands to sliding on your board is commonly called “run-drop-slide”. Again, this will take time and practice to get down but once you learn I promise you won’t be able to stop because of how much fun it is. If the beach you are on is sloped down towards the water where the shore breaks, it can be helpful to practice this technique on the sand before you do it on the water.
Step 5: RUN
Disclaimer: In the following photos I am not using a real skimboard and I am obviously not at a beach. I mainly wanted to show the Run-Drop-Slide technique.
Hold the rails of the board with both hands, using your dominant hand to hold the back end of the board. Gain momentum buy jogging towards the downward sloping beach or receding water. Timing is very important. The faster you run the faster you will go on your board and further you will slide. Also, once you are moving on your board you would be surprised on how little water you need to slide. It usually only takes freshly wet sand to slide. You don’t want to try and drop your board in more than a couple of inches of water because you will likely not go anywhere.
Step 6: DROP
Again, timing is key. While continuing to move forward, drop or throw your board flat in front of you about a yard or whatever the length of one stride for you is. Many people will slow down while dropping their board which messes up how they mount their board. Try your best to maintain speed and lead the board in front of you when dropping it so you don’t run right into it. A useful trick you will see a lot of pros do is before they begin running, kick some sand onto the underside of the board so that it drops faster and flatter.
Step 7: SLIDE
Once the board is on the water or sand, keep with your stride and place your back foot on the back end of the board and your next stride should lead right into placing your front foot right in the middle of the board. Once both feet are on the board, keep you best balance and enter of gravity by slightly bending your knees, keeping your shoulders over your feet, and hips square with edge of the board or facing slightly forward.
Now your skimboarding!
Step 8: All Togeather
Here's a slow-mo of what it should look like all together in one fluid motion. Hope this instructable was helpful and have fun skimboarding! (Or apartment boarding)