Spotlight

Surf or Skim—Extreme Water Sports

December is the time, at least for me, to miss the summer days and the beach the most since it’s close enough to remember it, but far enough away that you want to experience it again. And so this month’s Extreme Sports have to do with the ocean: particularly surfing, bodyboarding and skimboarding—my personal favorite. There are a host of other beach related sports, but surfing, bodyboarding, and skimboarding are by far the most common.

Surfing is certainly the most well known of the three, probably since it has been around far longer than the other two. Surfing has long been a popular sport, particularly for young people, in the 1950-1960’s—unsurprisingly synced with hippies and rock and roll. In fact, surfing has the same connotations today. Most people see surfing as a very “beach-boy”, hippie, adventure seeker lifestyle. While this is true, as in all extreme sport cultures, people are friendly, welcoming, and helpful for they want to see others join their favorite hobby. Recently, surfing has become a professional sport. Surfing greats like Kelly Slater, Greg Cipes, Andy Irons, Alana Blanchard Bethany Hamilton and Erica Hosseini have appeared on national television and major sports networks. Surfing is a relatively simple sport, but it is also very technical. Competitors get scored on the tricks they perform and the length or their ride on the wave. Surfing is an incredible sport to try. The way that the board, rider, and wave interact is strangely beautiful.

    Bodyboarding, sometimes called boogie-boarding, is a similar sport, except the rider lies down or kneels on the board. Often, this sport is dismissed because seems simple and trivial compared to surfing. Surfers see bodyboarders as a nuisance. However, bodyboarding requires just the same amount of skill.  Bodyboarders can often get even more air than surfers. Unfortunately, bodyboarding is not yet a professional sport. Bodyboarding is incredibly fun, easy, and rewarding a perfect sport for someone who is looking for something simple but still exciting.

Skimboarding is related to surfing since the board is more of a diamond shape and the rider stands on the board. Skimboarding is also disdained by surfers since skimboarders start on the beach and skim down the shore to catch a wave. There are a couple of ways to skimboard. The more challenging way is to find a steep beach, sprint down it, throw your board down, and catch a wave to bring you back in. This type of skimboarding is my personal favorite because of the speed and adrenaline it provides. However, the best way for learning the basics of skimboarding is to find a straight flat area of the beach, gently run and place your board down, and then coast on it. Different types of boards are better suited for the different styles. A fiberglass or carbon fiber board is better for a faster, more aggressive, wave catching-form, whereas a wooden board is perfect for coasting. In some ways, professional Skimboarding is like bobsledding. Skimboarders spring as fast as they can down the beach and then get on their board like the runners in a bob sled. Skimboarding is easier to understand if you see it done, so I would suggest googling “Pro Skimboarders” and watching them perform.

I strongly encourage you guys to try one of these incredible sports the next time you’re at the beach! Let me know down below about your experiences with them.

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