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Dropping in On a Homegrown Sport

Production coordinator Bob Phillips watches as a computer-driven saw cuts perfect symmetrical and identical skimboard blanks from a sheet of plywood for a beginner line of boards.

Words and Images by Mitch Ridder

 

Skimboarding originated in the late 1920’s when Laguna Beach lifeguards used flat sheets of wood to skim across the wet sand.

In the ‘60s as the surfing craze took off, skimboarding’s popularity grew and began evolving toward its current form that involves skimming the sand into the water, riding Laguna’s perfect-for-the-sport shorebreak waves.

In 1976, Tex Haines and Peter Prietto created Victoria Skimboards, named after Laguna’s own Victoria Beach, one of the best shorelines in the world for the sport.

Victoria Skimboards helped revolutionize the sport by incorporating the same materials used in making surfboards – light weight foam cores, fiberglass and epoxy resins – to produce lighter, faster and much more maneuverable skimboards.

Shaper Fernando Lagunas lightly sands what’s known as the rail, aided by a low-positioned light that highlights imperfections in the high-density foam blank.

Due to fire codes involving fiberglass, resins and chemicals used in making boards, the company relocated its manufacturing to San Clemente. Victoria is among friends in an area known as the Surf Ghetto, home to six or seven board makers. A former San Clemente fire chief who surfed allowed the use next to an odor-producing water treatment plant.

Victoria Skimboards also took the lead in promoting and growing its own sport by creating the annual Aliso Beach World Championship of Skimboarding, holding its first competition in 1976.

Since then, Laguna has produced many of the sport’s top skimboarders, including last year’s winner, Sam Stinnett, 14-time world champion Bill Bryan and a local lifeguard Capt. Tom Trager, who won back-to-back world championships in 1987-1988 and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine riding a Victoria skimboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria Skimboard's pro team rider Matthieu Thibaud slips into a beach barrel at Aliso Beach on a board branded with his name.

 

 

 

Victoria Skimboard's Laguna Canyon showroom, stocked with beginners’ wood boards to high performance pro models, is ringed by owner Tex Haines’ personal collection of vintage skimboards, giving customers a visual history of the sport.

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