You’ve seen those guys ripping through the shallow waves and/or hitting rails at the beach, and now you want to be one of them. Skimboarding is on the rise, and with increased popularity comes more brands, more sizes, and more confusion for the buyer. Here, we’ll boil down skimboarding to the basics, so you can find the right board and start riding.
The 3 Main Factors
When buying a board, you must take into consideration these 3 factors:
1. Your height
2. Your weight
3. How fast you run
To classify this information, here’s a handy chart that will make your search easy. All you need to do is find your weight first, then determine how fast you run. Where those two factors meet in the middle of the chart, that’s the board for you.
If you happen to be in between two sizes, there’s a column on the right-hand side that asks you what size waves you normally ride. That should guide you to a specific board size. As a general rule of thumb, the skimboard should be as tall as the middle of your chest when you stand it up.
Make sure you stay true to this chart! Don’t spend your hard-earned money on a board that’s the wrong size. If it’s too big, you can’t turn it. If it’s too small, you’ll struggle to even reach a wave. Don’t think that just by getting experience you’ll be able to master any size. To compare, it’s not like baseball where a great player could get a few hits with any bat. It’s more like running track where even the fastest runner is going to have trouble if his shoes don’t fit.
What kind of Skimboarding are you doing?
Thankfully, you don’t have to always be on the Ocean to skimboard. Inland or flatland skimboarding is very popular, especially for those who can’t always catch a wave. If you’re going to be skimming along shallow water and doing tricks of ramps and trails, you’re going to want something heavier and stiffer, like a wood skimboard. They sink a little bit faster, so if you’re mainly going for deep water and big waves, you’ll want foam. We’ll look into the science behind these choices next.
Foam vs. Wood
Even if you’re an accomplished skimboarder, you might not know all of the materials that go into making one. It helps to know this when choosing a board. Materials can affect the way you ride, even if you’ve picked out your perfect size from the chart.
Manufacturers typically use closed cell foam in the core of the skimboard. Fiberglass and/or resin cover the outer layers. There’s also carbon fiber skimboards, which are lighter and faster than anything you could imagine. But those are often reserved for professionals only.
If you’re a wave rider, you’ll want a foam board, since foam is great for floating on top of the wave.
Riders who stick to the shallow, sandy inland waters typically use flat wooden boards. These boards are thinner, so they are perfect for riding a thin film of water.
Either way, you’ll also want some extra grip, which you can add by using traction pads, tape, or even cork.
Size and Shape
Even though you’ve picked out your size from the chart, keep this in mind. A large skimboard will be faster, but it won’t carve quickly. Smaller boards, while allowing you to hop around as much as you like, will be slower.
The shape is also important. The “rocker” is how much curve the head of the skimboard has. The more curve, the easier it can be to get from the sand to the water. A steeper curve can slow down the board a little bit too though. The tail can be pin-shaped or square. Pintails are slightly more stable, but a shallower shape like a square or W can let you maneuver better and also give you a bigger spary.
By using this information, you’ll be buying your first or next board before you know it, and hopefully it’ll be a perfect fit for you. Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends or your local surf shop owner for tips as well.
Story by Scott M Huntington
You can reach Scott at: firstname.lastname@example.org