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Skimboarding (or skimming) is a boardsport in which a skimboard (a smaller counterpart to a surfboard without fins) is used to glide across the water's surface to meet an incoming, breaking wave, and ride it back to shore. Wave riding skimboarders perform a variety of surface and air maneuvers, at various stages of their ride, out to, and back with, the wave. Some of these are known as "wraps," "frontsides," "backsides," "big spins," "bigger spins," "360 Shuvs," etc. Unlike surfing, skimboarding begins on the beach by dropping the board onto the thin wash of previous waves. Skimboarders use their momentum to skim out to breaking waves, which they then catch back into shore in a manner similar to surfing. Another aspect of skimboarding is 'flatland', which involves performing tricks derived from skateboarding such as ollies and shove-its on the wash of waves without catching shore breaks. Skimboarding originated in Southern California when lifeguards wanted an easy way to get across the beaches of Laguna. Skimboarding has developed since then to extreme riding into big shorebreak.
Riders generally favor a board length which reaches about their mid-chest height when stood on end.
Thickness of the board depends somewhat on the materials used in construction, but typically ranges from 3/8 inch to 1 inch. The most common thickness is 5/8" and 3/4". A few high-flotation foam core boards and "soft" boards have been built with thicknesses in excess of 2 inches. A 5/8 board is capable of sharper turns while sacrificing a little speed. A 3/4 will be able to glide out farther, but turning may be harder.
Most skimboards will have some nose lift, or rocker. There are three types of rockers generally used for skimboards. There is a constant rocker, which means that the board has a constant curve from nose to tail. Constant rockers are known for better control on bigger waves and steeper slopes. Another type of rocker and the most commonly used is a hybrid rocker. This means that the board has a curve on the bottom through about 3/4 of the board's length, the rest (meaning the flat part) is usually the tail. This type of rocker is good for both speed and control on decent size waves; also the best type of board for flatland tricks. Last of all, a traditional rocker means that the board is almost completely flat except for the nose. A traditional rocker is typically used for east coast conditions where the waves are far out.
There are many types of dangers that skimboarders can face on a daily basis. It is not uncommon to see fractures or dislocations of the lower limbs, some requiring serious medical attention. Lacerations, twisted ankles and bruises are also common, due to impacts with the board itself, or rocks, logs and other obstacles present on beaches. Hamstring injury is also pretty common due to the fast and extreme movement of skimboarder's leg when they run toward the water and jump on the board. Drowning amongst skimboarders is not as likely as amongst surfers due to the shallow water in which skimboarding is usually practiced. Also, due to the shallow water, cervical fracture is a very dangerous possibility when riding big waves.
A study was done in a British journal on the dangers of skimboarding and it states, "Over a 5 month period—May to September 2003—10 patients were seen by the fracture team at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust. Of the 10, eight were male, with an average age 18.7 (range 12–31). There was an equal incidence of left and right sided injuries. All the injuries were closed with no neurovascular symptoms or signs. Eight were to the lower limb, all of which were fractures of the distal tibia, ankle, and mid-foot. Six patients required hospital admission, all of these injuries were from skimboarding."
Many injuries that skimboarders suffer happen over a long period of time. Such injuries include: groin strain, fractures, leg pains, shin splints, etc. Some of these injuries can be prevented by stretching before and after a session.
Another foot injury that can occur is "skimboard toe". Much like "turf toe," it develops from overuse and can eventually break bones in your foot.
Other dangers to consider are riptides. They can be very strong in certain areas and bring a skimboarder out to sea very quickly. There have been a few incidences of skimboarders dying from drowning by being caught in a riptide. Many skimboarders[who?] recommend asking locals about tides and swells as well as checking tide charts if skimming in a new area. Doing so will also help avoid rocks that are hidden under waves, which are another potential cause of serious injury.
Many consider the center of skimboarding to be located in Laguna Beach, California where skimboarding became popular[when?] when lifeguards would skim across sand on pieces of wood. Every summer, Victoria Skimboards sponsors a contest called the VIC, which is held at Aliso Beach in Laguna; it is one of the biggest competitions in the world. Other Laguna hot spots consist of Tenth street, West Street, Treasure Island, Thalia Street, and Crescent Bay. In Dewey Beach, Delaware, every year the World Amateur Championships of Skimboarding are held on New Orleans Street. The Florida Pro/Am is held every year in August, on Vilano Beach, Florida, which is known as the best East Coast skimboarding location. Big skimboarding waves are also found in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. However, people skim in many other locations throughout North America, Europe (the main locations being Portugal, France, Spain, United Kingdom & Holland), Australia, Asia, and South America. Some people skim inland because of difficulty with shore access. Flatland skimboarding can be done nearly anywhere: lakes, rivers, creeks, ponds, golf courses, puddles, or even wet grass. In the United States, flatland skim scenes have developed primarily in states not bordering the ocean. Flatland has also developed in British Columbia, Ontario, and along The Great Lakes. Australia (Melbourne and Parramatta), and Wellington, New Zealand also have dedicated flatland communities and riders. In Europe, the Flatland skim scene is growing fast, with the biggest group of skimboarders situated in Poland. Skimboarding is popular on many beaches where it is impossible to surf, for example, on Boa Viagem, Recife, Brazil, where surfing is banned due to the threat of shark attacks. Beaches that have streams or rivers flowing into the ocean can also make ideal downhill skimming areas.
|This section requires expansion. (August 2013)|
Wave riding is the style most popular and best recognized in the sport of skimboarding. There are more athletes and competitions in wave riding than any other division of skimboarding. It is also the hardest and most technical. Today's wave riding boards are a product of years of trials and errors. There isn't much variation in shape because of this. There is a wide variety of beginner to very advanced, high performance boards in this category and it is important to choose the right one for your size, ability and style. Wave riding skimboarders refer to their board as a "skimboard." However to inland skimborders it is referred to as a "foamie."
The majority of wave riding skimboard manufacturers use a closed cell foam, which is a high density foam material that resists water absorption and dings. Fiberglass is used for the strong outer shell. There are few different types of fiberglass which come in a variety of weaves and weights. Carbon is a very high end type of fiberglass which is extremely stiff and strong, and used to make professional skimboards which are very fast. Skimboards made with carbon fiber are the fastest boards around, and are also considerably more expensive.
There are four essential characteristics specific for riding a variety of waves. The board must be light enough to practically float (skim) on the water, but heavy enough that it will not fly away in the wind. It must be fast, as skimboarders need speed to get to the desired wave and not miss it completely. It must have adequate and appropriate rocker for your desired skimboarding location. It must be flexible according to personal preference based on riding style and ability.
Inland boards tend to be made of wood and, therefore, are called "woodies" by wave riding skimborders. Wood core boards are quite rugged. They are meant for grinding rails and doing tricks. They stand up well against rocks and shells, obstacles, and general wear.
Flatland or Inland Skimboards
Inland boards are generally made of wood and are easy to find at a local surf or skate shop, depending on your location. If you are close to a beach or the coast it shouldn’t be a problem finding a board.
There are two basic sides of the spectrum for board types. The “Trick board,” a board where both sides are symmetrical and the shape is even throughout. This makes it ideal for spinning the board and completing tricks due to its symmetry. The “Cruiser board,” a board where the shape follows the same curves as a surfboard and is either slightly pointed or rounded at the top or tip and the back is slightly rounder. The backside of the board can also have a tail. These boards are typically called pintails.
The increasing international interest in skimboarding has resulted in the development of a competitive industry, catering for the ever-increasing demand for both quality and cheap skimboards. Each company has what they call team riders, people who skimboard in competitions while representing their company sponsor to promote their boards. They usually have an amateur and professional team who are supplied by the manufacturer with skimboards at no or little cost. However as a pro-rider the company usually pays for all traveling expenses for their riders on competition tours.
Skimboarding contests are held to establish ranking amongst skimboarders and provide a way for companies to market products. In North America there are two centralized organizations that hold events: United Skim Tour and Skim USA. In recent years the United Skim Tour (UST) has focused solely on professional competition while Skim USA has gravitated towards amateur competition. Some events are both Skim USA and UST events, and all Skim USA competitions have a professional division.
In Europe, the European Skimboard League was created in 2009 to promote skimboarding across the world. Its creation has been seen as one of the finest moments in European skimboarding to date. The 2009 League was won by Emanuel (Mega) Embaixador and in 2010 Hugo Santos. The league consists of 4 stages mostly held in the Summer months, although UK & Spanish events tend to happen just outside of the holiday season. The stages are held in Portugal, France, The UK & Spain, each hosted at one of the best skimboarding locations found anywhere in the world. The UK event is held at Tolcarne Beach in Newquay, Cornwall. Newquay is a location famous for its surfing scene and Tolcarne Beach is known as the UK Wedge to many surfers, bodyboarders & skimboarders.
In the past The Victoria World Championships determined the World Champion of Professional Skimboarding. The United Skim Tour moved professional skimboarding to a points system in 2012. Most events consist of a set time and date, but, there has been a small movement to start holding waiting period competitions like the Florida Pro/Am held in Vilano Beach, Florida each year, also the DB Pro-AM at Dash Point State Park. The pros all look forward to the first official contest of the year, which until 2013 was held in Cabo San Lucas every spring, but is now held in Brazil. In 2013 Cabo San Lucas was moved to the second contest of the year. The Florida Pro/Am is a skimboarding tournament held each August, on Vilano Beach, Florida. It typically lasts three days, and is the final leg of The Florida Cross Over Tour which includes surfing, skateboarding and skimboarding. The Florida Pro/Am and The Florida Cross-Over Tour are both considered premier skimboarding events. Some well-known skimboarders are Austin Keen, who is the current 2013 UST World Champion, Bill Bryan, Brad Domke, Morgan Just, Grady Archbold, James Lovett, Sam Stinnett, Paulo Prietto, Brandon Sears, Brandon Rothe, and Jackson Tenney. Three leading companies are Exile Skimboards, Victoria Skimboards and Zap Skimboards. There are two types of contests; flatland and wave riding contests.
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