Skimming Hawaii’s Shorelines

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - March 17, 2010
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David Sterman from the North Shore places third in the Men’s Advanced division of the Victoria Skimboarding Contest held recently at Sandy’s

If you frequent the beach, you’ve probably seen someone doing it before, but chances are you’ve never built up the courage to give it a go. It’s called skim-boarding, a sport that resembles surfing and skate-boarding, only this is happening on the shorebreak.

For those who are still trying to visualize the sport, picture someone on the shoreline holding a piece of wood or fiberglass shaped like a mini-surfboard. As the wave approaches, he or she sprints toward the ocean, throws the board on the wet sand and without hesitation jumps on it while it’s moving. If the timing is right, the ride begins. If not, you usually gets a mouthful of sand.

“Once the skimmer reaches the wave, all kinds of tricks can be performed while attempting to catch the wave like a surfer and successfully riding back up the sand,” says Erik Covarrubias of the Hawaii Amateur Skimboarding League.

The sport has been around for more than eight decades after being introduced in the 1920s by lifeguards at Laguna Beach. Since then, it has evolved into one of the most radical sports on our shorelines, including here in Hawaii.


“HASL had a total of 60 members in 2009 but the skimboarding community in Hawaii is much larger,” says Covarrubias. “There also are skimboarders from Maui and Kauai who come out for every contest, and there are still a lot of people who have only been skimming for a short while who may be nervous about competing.”

That hesitation is one reason Covarrubias founded HASL in 2008.

“I set up HASL originally to give skimmers in Hawaii recognition so that they can have exposure to enter into national skim-boarding contests,” he says.

Most of the big events happen in California, but in 2009 Hawaii was home to six, including four on Oahu and one each on Maui and Kauai. This year the local organization will host five contests. The season-opener was recently held at world-famous Sandy Beach.

“This was our second annual Dangerous Shorebreak skim contest at Sandy Beach that kicked off the season,” says Covarrubias. “It was sponsored by Victoria Skimboards, which is one of the original skimboard makers out of Laguna, Calif.”

Covarrubias says Victoria Skimboards donated prizes for the top three placers in each of the four divisions. The company also donated a Victoria skimboard for a grand prize raffle, which was won by Anthony “Ace” Conlon from Kauai.

Covarrubias says the goal for HASL is to bring skimmers from the Islands and abroad to enjoy the awesome skim spots Hawaii has to offer. He says since the skill level of skimming is steadily improving, the next focus is on friendly competition.

“Points are accumulated through the season and we award the top three in each division,” he says. “The men’s advanced is more like a pro level, but the industry is too small for prize money.”

The next event will happen at the end of April at Yokohama Bay, one event in the summer on Maui and Kauai followed by the finale in October at Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore. Covarrubias hopes one day skimmers who reside in Hawaii can make a living off the sport.

“The contest and championship results from HASL can be used as references to enter larger contests on the Mainland and even internationally that are growing quickly each year,” he says.

And the sport will continue to grow as more people take that first step and start the glide.

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