Before you start, firstly you need to get yourself a board. A skimboard is half the length, half the thickness, slightly wider and has no fins at the bottom compared to a surfboard. Now there are two kinds of boards available in the market, wood boards and foam boards. As a beginner I would recommend you start out with a wood board because it is cheap, stable and it can withstand any trashing you could throw at it as a beginner.
And if you are only into sand skimming, a wood board is good enough too because wood boards could last longer on the sand without wearing off the bottom of your board. On top of that, you need not worry about the size of the board, rocker height, thickness of the board or even the board not being able to withstand your weight and carry you out to sea. Basically, any wood board that is proportionate to your size would do.
On the other hand, if you are into catching waves, I would suggest you use a foam board because a wood board is very hard to ride in water. Because it is made of wood and because the board is much heavier compared to a fiberglass board, you will sink before you even reach the waves. Not to say you could not totally ride a wood board on water but it will take a longer time to practice and just harder to learn.
Now if you are taking my advice on the foam board, this is where it gets interesting and you need to take a few things into consideration. Before I start explaining, foam boards are made out of either high quality fiberglass or carbon. And the foam serves as the core of the board. This makes the board very light and buoyant. Therefore, if you are getting a foam board you need to know:
1) Board Size
All foam boards come in different sizes depending on the manufacturer’s specifications. So make sure you know what board size is suitable for your weight before purchasing it. For example, if you are purchasing a Victoria skimboard and you weigh about 70kg (approx. 154lb) you should get either a medium large board or a large board. Between the two you have to take into consideration your own ability and preference. Both boards are able to withstand your weight and take you out to sea but with a smaller board (ML) you have more control over it (front and back) compared to the larger board. And for a smaller and slimmer board, you are able to maneuver better compared to a bigger board.
But a larger board could take you out further into the ocean compared to the smaller board but maneuverability wise it is not as good compared to a slimmer board. So in order to make the right choice make sure you know what you can do (athletic ability) and what you want to do before purchasing a board or you could always ask your local dealer for advice. If all else fails, you can always email me, I’m always here to help.
Another thing you should know before purchasing a board is the thickness of the board. Most board manufacturers have standardized the thickness of their boards to the size of the board. Bear in mind that these board manufacturers are professionals and they know what is best for you. Time proven thickness is 5/8” and ¾”. Generally, the thicker the board the further it will take you into the ocean but remember the added thickness contributes to added weight on the board. Besides, a thicker board is also much harder to maneuver compared to a thinner board on water.
Rocker is the tilted (curved) end of the board. This is the nose (front) of the board. The purpose of rocker is to help you make the transition from sand to water as smoothly and easily as possible. Without a rocker, the nose of the board will dive into water when you are making the transition. It depends on the flatness of your beach. If the beach is flat, a lower rocker is good enough to make the transition from sand to water. But if the beach is steep, a higher rocker is needed for the transition. Usually rockers are 2” to 3” high. But bear in mind, a higher rocker will slow the board down compared to a lower rocker board.
4) Board Weight
For maximum skim runs, basically get the lightest board you could find. Although, if you are from a windy area, you need a heavier board so that your board could withstand the wind thus making sure that your board does not fly off when you throw it down.
5) Tail Shape
Skimboards have three common tail shapes, which is pintail, swallow tail (W shaped) and square tail. The most commonly used tail is the pintail because it is very stable on water. Swallow tail and square tail boards on the other hand gives more maneuverability to the board but by having these tails, it shortens the board which gives it a twitchy feel. One of the benefits of having these tails is that it throws a bigger spray. My advice is to stick to the pintail boards.
In short, know your abilities; get a board that could withstand your body weight and carry you out to sea yet just the right size and rocker height for you to be able to maneuver the board easily. Also the lighter the board, the more runs you could make. With that said, why are you still reading this? Get your ass out there and skim!!
For more info on boards and how to choose your boards check out www.skimonline.com