Skimming the Vilano Beach Coast Attracts Worldwide Athletes

While Florida is known as one of the best places to surf on the East Coast of the United States, Florida’s Historic Coast is home to one of the foremost competitions for an offshoot of the sport known as skimboarding.

For 18 years, the Florida Skimboarding Pro/Am is usually held in late August on the shores of Vilano Beach along the Atlantic Ocean. The competition has established itself as the longest running professional skimboard competition in the world and third oldest amateur skimboard competition.

The Skimboarding Pro/Am is a big deal for both fans of the sport and for Florida’s Historic Coast because it shows off the beautiful beaches, great restaurants, historic attractions and more of the unique attributes that St. Augustine and the beaches have to offer.

The Florida Skimboarding Pro/Am event runs for three days and draws competitors from an estimated 75 locales in the Sunshine State. Beyond the intense competition and the highlighting of a pristine coastal community, it features an alternative action sport that complements the surfing world.

Many traditional surfers who paddle out into the waves sometimes take a dim view of skimboarding because they simply don’t think it stacks up to the work it takes paddling into a wave. But skimboarding is a fun alternative to paddling on a surfboard.

First, a skimboard is smaller than most surfboards ranging in length from 35 to 55 inches long and the learning curve is slightly more challenging than skateboarding. Second, the technique of skimboarding takes place on the cusp of the beach where the water meets the sand.

Skimboards usually have no fins on the bottom of them such as you see on surfboards and skimboards are much thinner, typically barely more than an inch thick, if that. That’s because a skimboard is a vehicle that skims across a thin film of water at the beach’s edge as a backwash of seawater retreats into the ocean.

It’s at that point the skimboarder gets a running start with the skimboard in hand and when they see that thin layer of water over the hard-packed sand, they throw or drop the skimboard down on the sand. Then, as the board is slightly ahead of the rider and “skimming,” the rider runs and jumps on the board and the ride begins on the wet sand.

Some rides can go for dozens of yards and good skimboarders often turn the board into an oncoming tidal push and go flying into the air, using that small push of water as a liquid ramp.

The technique allows the rider to actually hydroplane across that thin film of water over sand. Think of snowboarding but in the comfy climes of Florida waters.

It’s an inviting choice for the uninitiated beachgoers because skimboarding is less intimidating than the sometimes-powerful surf in the water that can be downright daring to inexperienced riders.

For experienced water enthusiasts, skimboarding is an easy way to enjoy the beach when those long flat spells come and there are no waves, especially in most summer months in Florida.

Vilano Beach itself offers an especially inviting skimboard scene because it has sloping dunes and an inclined beachline that adds extra momentum for getting that running start.

Skimboarding is also financially accessible, even though most skimboards are made from many of the same materials as a surfboard. A basic wooden skimboard can cost as little as $25 at a surf shop, of which most carry at least some inventory. But when you get to the competitive level of professionals and even amateurs, skimboards can coast about $300 to $400 for top-of-the-line boards. That’s about the cost of some shorter surfboards.

Still, if you’re coming to Florida’s Historic Coast and you want to get hooked into the surf culture, skimboarding is an easy entry level activity to get you going.