Words by Kelli Bean
Photos by Kirsten Voysey
So great to meet you, Daniel. It is not everyday I meet a skimboarder from Australia so I appreciate your interest in me interviewing you. Let’s start off with skim style.
Q: Are you a flatland rider, wave rider or both?
A: I used to do a little bit of flatland but just wave riding these days.
Q: How were you introduced to the sport?
A: I was camping at Double Island which is a long stretch of beach where you can camp right on the beach just behind the sand dunes. A family friend had a timber board that he had brought back from Bali and we spent the whole weekend sliding back and forth along the shoreline. After that weekend I went straight home and made my own timber skimboard which was a pretty wild shape. It had no rocker and was like an ice cream cone with the end chopped off. I rode that board into the ground. I tried to get myself a proper foamcore fiberglass board (a Zap Wedge!) back then from Skim City, but shipping prices were through the roof and nowhere stocked skimboards in Australia. My passion for the sport waned a bit after that but years down the track I got back into it and found that one of my local surf shops stocked heaps of skimboards. So I paid $800 for a carbon Exile Hybrid and the obsession hasn’t stopped since then.
Q: That is impressive how you made your own board in order to skimboard. How long exactly have you been skimboarding?
A: I have been skimming for 16 years. I first started in 1998 when I was 14 with a timber board. It wasn’t until 2006 that I got my first foamcore board.
Q: Where do you normally skim and with whom?
A: Most of the skim spots in Queensland are on the Sunshine Coast. The main beaches are Moffat Beach and Shelley Beach. There is a small crew that skims here but it isn’t a huge scene.
Q: Yet. Ha! Where are your all-time favorite skim spots?
A: My favourite spot to skim is the Yorke Peninsula down in South Australia. Spots like Plan B, Shatters and Batters which have had a bit of exposure on the international scene. Plan B is a perfect shore break for wraps. Shatters is a right to left sider opposite to Wedge which can get pretty gnarly but when it’s working it’s one of the best waves in Australia. Batters is just a huge shore break that we say is Australia’s equivalent to Cabo, Mexico, big, gnarly and right on the shore!
Q: Describe the skim scene for those of us who have never been.
A: The skim scene in Australia is still pretty small and underground but very tight knit. Everyone that is serious about the sport knows each other and will always help each other out if they travel interstate. I have mates in every state that I know would show me around their spots and put me up for a couple of nights.
Q: Sweet! Who in particular is pushing the sport right now in Australia?
A: Jake McIntosh from South Australia is really getting skimboarding out to the greater public. He has done a bit of an interview with a national show “Totally Wild” as well as working towards filming and editing an Australian skimboarding film to showcase some of Australia’s top riders and spots to the world. Both of the Kaye brothers, Alex and Elliott, have also been pushing the sport for years now. What they can do on a skimboard is crazy. You can see both them featured in a new skimboarding movie being released soon by Duncan Robinson called “Sink or Skim”.
Q: How exciting, the rest of the skim community will be interested in watching these two films when they come out. Why do you think the sport is so small in Australia?
A: I feel like because Australia has such a history of surf culture that when people see skimboarding they mostly just ask why don’t you just surf instead. They don’t realize that catching waves on a skimboard is even possible. Most people think that skimboarding is just sliding back and forth across the sand on a timber board. Also because the beaches that are set up really well for skimboarding that have a consistent wave are quite few and far between so it isn’t as accessible as it is in other countries.
Q: That makes sense. Which riders influence your skimboarding?
A: I have always loved to watch Paulo Prietto ride. He has such a smooth effortless style that I have always tried to emulate. When Austin Keen came out to Australia for Skimdulgence in 2010 he definitely showed me what sort of level the Pro’s were riding at and that lit a fire in me to get better and try to get to that level. Both Alex and Elliott Kaye from Perth have always pushed me to get better just to try and keep up with them.
Q: Have you traveled to skim?
A: I have travelled all around Australia for skimboarding and have had the chance to skim most of the top spots here. Just recently I got to travel to Oahu, Hawaii (for my Honeymoon) and was lucky enough to catch up with Keiao “KGB” Bucasas who showed us around and took us to Sandy Beach for a skim. The waves were pretty good but I was shocked with the crowds they had to deal with just to be able to skim. That’s why it’s always good to travel to new spots and skim different conditions that you don’t necessarily get to skim in at your home breaks.
Q: What was it like meeting the 2013 UST women’s champ?
A: It was really cool to meet Keiao when I was in Hawaii. She was super nice and even came and picked me and my wife up from Waikiki and took us to Sandy Beach so we didn’t have to hire a car again for the day. The group of skimboarders we met were all really cool and welcomed us into the group as if we had been a part of it for years. We even went to Costco for lunch which was pretty cool for us! I think it’s amazing that I can message someone that I’ve never met before and organize to meet up with them halfway around the world for a skim. That’s what I love about our sport, because we have that one common interest you are automatically friends.
Q: That’s awesome you were so welcomed, I am not surprised at all. What about competitions, have you ever competed before?
A: I have competed in a few competitions down here in Australia. They aren’t normally your usual heats, semis, finals sort of competition but more of an expression session/rider poll over a whole weekend. I’ve been voted best rider at Skimdulgence which is Australia’s biggest skimboarding event twice now, plus have won best wave at the event as well as placing in the top 3 in a few different structured competitions around Australia. I would love to be able to make it out to Laguna Beach, California for one of the UST events, especially The VIC, and see how I stack up against everyone else. It would be interesting to see if I could hold my own against the best in world. Hopefully next year I will make it over there, that is the plan anyway.
Q: Good luck with your plans coming to California next year! What is your favorite trick?
A: I love wrapping a wave, it’s just the best feeling in the world. Big slow wraps or quick schwacks, just the feeling of turning on the wave on this thin piece of fiberglass is what keeps me coming back.
Q: Which skimboarding goals do you have?
A: I really want to travel to Laguna Beach and see all these spots and meet all the skimmers that I have grown up watching in all the DVD’s and online videos. To be able to see Aliso Beach, 10th Street Beach, The Wedge and all the other spots and skim these waves with all the Pros will just blow my mind. I know that is something I have to do. I also want to travel to Japan and experience their skim scene. I’ve skimmed with Kaori Oda from Japan here in Australia when she has been here a few times and I would love to go see where she skims and compete in their M-1 Skim Festival.
Q: I would like to meet Kaori and skim with the Japanese skim scene as well. Who are you sponsored with?
A: I’m lucky enough to be sponsored by Exile Skimboards Australia and Lets Party Traction Australia. I remember thinking to myself when I first got my copy of Beard.ed that it would be amazing to be sponsored by Exile Skimboards and now 8 years down the track that is a reality. It’s really cool that I can help these companies out just by doing what I love.
Q: It is pretty cool. Where would you like to see skimboarding in Australia go in the future?
A: I don’t think skimboarding is ever going to be as big as say surfing or skateboarding here in Australia, but I would love to see it become big enough that people would actually know what it is and not just associate skimboarding with sliding back and forth across the sand. I think it would be great if we could all get together and start a bit of a national tour not unlike the United Skim Tour for Australia. Something for the top riders to be able to compete in at the better spots around the country with a bit of a reward at the end. Maybe even get to the stage where we could have a UST Stop here in Australia. I know we have the conditions capable of holding an event, it’s just a pity that we really are on the other side of the world from where the main skim scene is.
Q: It is a pity as I know a lot of Pros would love to skim and compete in Australia. Besides skimboarding, what are some of your other passions?
A: If I’m not at the beach skimboarding I’m usually out in my kayak fishing. I also enjoy photography and videography and always put out a bit of an edit from Skimdulgence such as Skimdulgence 9 and Skimdulgence 10. It’s always interesting seeing each year how everyone has gotten a bit better.
Q: Any shout outs before we end the interview?
A: I would like to thank Nic and Tim from Exile Skimboards Australia for always keeping fresh boards under my feet and Adam from Lets Party Traction Australia for keeping those boards looking the best with all their awesome pads. Also Steve Taylor from Exile and Lets Party Traction. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be able to help promote these awesome companies. Lastly, if you’ve ever thought of coming out to Australia for a holiday, definitely do it! We have an awesome community of dedicated riders that will be more then glad to show you around. Plus we have Koala’s! They are awesome!
Haha, Koala’s are awfully cute. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with me.
You can follow Daniel on Instagram at @danielsondownunder