Check out the guy doing a Shove It. He just got the board to spin 180° and jumped as it turned, so he’s now riding the board backwards. This is typical of a hot-shot skimboarder. But even if you’re not an experienced skimboarder, you can still get your heart pumping hopping on a board and riding waves out from the shore. You may get an old-fashioned strawberry or two on your knees as you tumble from your board onto the sand, but that will just add to your glory and the tales of your found sport you tell to friends back on dry land.
You can do lots of cool tricks on a skimboard, which is typically smaller and thinner than a surfboard. Skimboarding is similar to surfing, but skimboarders start on the sand. When they see the right wave, they run toward the ocean and drop their boards on the thin layer of water receding from the wave. Think hydroplaning. Skimboarding uses momentum from running and speed to slide along the surface of the water as the tide withdraws from the shore and out to the breaking waves. At this point, the boarder can shift his or her weight and direction and ride back to shore similar to a surfer. Skilled skimboarders can even ride down the line like a surfer, or launch off the wave and do aerial tricks, such as a Wrap, a Superman or a Coffin (lying on one’s back on the skimboard with feet facing straight out).
Old photographs of Laguna Beach lifeguards skimming across the sand on large plywood boards indicate this sport dates back to the 1920s. Today, the skimboards are made of much more sophisticated materials than they were back then: fiberglass or carbon fiber wrapped around high density foam. The sport now thrives in Laguna Beach, where many pro skimboarders live, and elsewhere in the world including on inland lakes.
Laguna Beach is still considered the center of the skimboarding universe. Some companies who make skimboards, such as Victoria Skimboards, are located here, and it’s the site of the annual Victoria Skimboards World Championships, an invitational event for qualified amateurs and pro riders. Watching this event can induce a little adrenaline of its own.
For all things skimboard related, check out Skimonline.com, a website maintained by pro skimboarder Aaron Peluso. Here, too, you’ll find a list of Skimspots suggested by the webmaster and other skimboarders around the globe. World-class skimboarders have made Tenth Street in Laguna Beach, with its sidewashes, home. Ninth Street is usually a straight wave. It’s also known for its powerful shore break. —LF
John Wayne Airport, Orange County (15 miles/24km).
$$$ Montage Resort & Spa, 30801 South Coast Hwy. ( 866/271-6953 or 949/715-6000; www.montagelagunabeach.com). $$ Casa Laguna Inn & Spa, 2510 South Coast Hwy. ( 800/233-0449 or 949/494-2996; www.casalaguna.com).