What is Skimboarding?

Ocean Skimboard and Flatland Skimboard
My two primary skimboards

Skimboarding is a board sport that is practiced on beaches lakes, and rivers. The objective is to run, and then use a skimboard to slide across the water. Skimboards look like miniature surfboards without the fins. Their smaller size makes them easy to run with and the smooth bottom allows them to glide with very little resistance.

Skimboarding is one of the oldest boardsports around. Skimboarders have been photographed on the beaches of California as early as the 1920s. Early skimboards were usually made from plywood and riders couldn’t do much more than sliding back and fourth down the beach.

Today skimboarders can be found all over the world and numerous styles and local variations exist. Here are a couple of the most popular varieties of skimboarding.

Ocean Skimboarding

Ocean riding is the “original” style of skimboarding and the style and the variation that attracts the most participants today. It first achieved mainstream popularity in Southern California during the 1970s. Ocean riding is performed on beaches that receive medium to heavy surf in places like California and Florida. Riders run out towards the ocean, drop their board, and then try to ride a wave back into the beach. Ocean skimboarding is closely related to surfing and many skimboarders can surf as well.

Ocean Skimboarding
Wave Riding in Laguna Beach, CA.

Riding waves is one of the toughest thing to do on a skimboard, so don’t expect to pick it up right away. It took me 10 months from the time I got my first ocean skimboard until I caught my first wave. In between I spent hours practicing timing, getting on the board, and maneuvering my way through the waves. But don’t let that discourage you. Theres nothing quite like the oceans’ power under your board!

Flatland Skimboarding

Flatland skimboarding is an alternative skimboarding style that is practiced in areas without waves to ride. Flatland skimboarding places more emphasis on skateboard-style tricks like shuvits and rail riding. It is usually practices on lakes, rivers, and inland waterways but can also be done on flat ocean beaches.

Flatland Riding on the American River

Flatland skimboarding has existed for a long time but until recently few people noticed. Since the early 2000s the internet has expanded the sport in a big way. I first learned about skimboarding after watching an online video over 10 years ago. Flatland skimboarding is a great way to get into the sport since it can be done almost anywhere, even if you live hundreds of miles from the ocean. Flatland usually takes less time to learn and is more affordable since flatland riders still use wooden boards.

Whichever style you prefer, just get out there and skim!