Delaware is a mecca for skimming, which becomes more popular every year. Now, two local boys are helping youngsters develop quickly.
(page 2 of 3)
Some say skimboarding began in Hawaii, where kids would skim along the surf’s edge with broken surfboards. Others point to the 1920s, when Laguna Beach lifeguards used pieces of wood for skimming. Most agree that skimboarding gained initial fame in the 1960s in the Laguna Beach area, which is still a hotbed for skimming. By the 1980s, skimming had caught on.
Wilson grew up around surfboards in Dewey Beach Surf Shop, which his father owned until 2000. “He was a longtime surfer who realized that the East Coast waves are better for skimboarding,” Wilson says. “He realized there was a market.” Harry Wilson began making skimboards, and it was only natural that Wilson would take up the sport. Mahoney joined him. The two now compete professionally.
To learn, you need a board, some wax and a wetsuit, depending on the water temperature. Boards range from $65 to $575 and up, Wheeler says. Low-end boards are made of pressed epoxy, while high-end boards are made with carbon fiber. Cutting-edge boards are designed to be light and buoyant. Some shops, including Alley-Oop, will rent boards. Consult the store staff to get the right size for your height, which makes all the difference. As kids grow, they’ll need new boards.
You can learn by watching others, but it helps to get tips from someone who knows the sport, says Wilson. He’s so good, he has a pro model made by Zap Skimboards, which also sponsors him in competitions.
Learning the drop is the first step. “If you don’t throw it down properly, you can run over the board,” Mahoney says. The board might catch the wave, but you’ll be watching from the beach. Camps or lessons also teach skimmers how to catch a wave and do tricks.
Not surprisingly, the younger you are the better. “Kids develop the early fundamentals better than adults,” Wheeler says. And since they’re closer to the ground, they don’t fall as far. But any age can learn. Dewey Beach Surf Shop offers camps for ages 5 through adult. Private lessons are also an option. “The most important part is the determination and the willingness to learn to skim,” Wheeler says. “It takes time and effort, as with any sport, to get good at it.”
Falls—either in the water or on the beach—are part of the sport. So are bruises. Loose boards become weapons of shin destruction when they careen toward shore. “We call them shiners,” Wilson says. “Nothing serious.” (Get too many, however, and you’ll wind up with permanent indentations like Mahoney’s.)
Page 3: Skimsational, continues...