Skimboarding pro Paulo Prietto shares his tips for groms new to the scene.
By Somer Tejwani
Skimboarding has been called “skateboarding on water,” but the professionals do a lot more than just throw down their board and ride it—they’re catching air, doing tricks and, yes, speeding along the shore break.
Plenty of skimboarders can be found gliding across the water and showing off their skills in Laguna Beach, where the sport started more than 80 years ago when lifeguards began riding rudimentary skimboards made out of plywood.
“Skimboarding is really part of Laguna Beach’s heritage,” says professional skimboarder Paulo Prietto. “Anybody around the world who skimboards knows that it is linked to Laguna Beach.”
Paulo has been connected to the sport and Laguna since he was a kid, spending his summers at his family’s beach house. There, he would often skimboard with cousins at Victoria Beach and spend time with his uncle Peter Prietto, who co-founded one of the biggest names in the sport—Victoria Skimboards—in the 1970s. Paulo, who is a three-time United Skim Tour champion, founded Laguna’s Solag Skim School in 2004 to give back to the next generation of great skimboarders and teach others his passion. We caught up with the local to get his advice on breaking into the sport.
Laguna Beach Magazine: How did you get into teaching skimboarding?
Paulo Prietto: I started teaching a few lessons while I was in high school, working with a veteran pro. It was a great summer job and, when he stopped giving lessons, I thought it was something I could still provide for people. It’s proven to be a great passion for me. I enjoy being with kids and teaching them for the first time how to skimboard. As you get older, you get more jaded and it’s hard to get that initial connection to the sport—that pure fun.
LBM: You have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old that you’ve started introducing to skimboarding, but for kids that don’t have a professional skimboarder as a dad, what age is good to
PP: Around 6 or 7, they are really ready for it and not as scared of the ocean. It’s easier to start as a kid than wait until you’re older because it’s harder to fall, and there’s a lot more risk involved if you do. But, I’ve also taught people into their 50s.
LBM: What advice do you have for those new to the sport?
PP: Take a lesson or learn from someone who knows what they are doing. There are a lot of wrong ways you can learn how to skimboard, and learning the proper fundamentals will set the proper foundation.
LBM: What’s the best beach for beginners?
PP: Thalia [Street Beach] because the waves aren’t too strong and there are different levels of skimboarders there.
LBM: What type of commitment does it take to get good?
PP: It’s like if you’re learning to play an instrument, if you don’t practice regularly you aren’t going to improve. When I was younger, I improved the most when I was able to do it four or five times a week.
LBM: The longest-running skimboard contest on the professional circuit is the VIC (previously known as the World Championship of Skimboarding, presented by Victoria Skimboards), which returns to Aliso Beach on June 28 and 29. What’s it like going to a professional event?
PP: From a spectator point of view, [the contest] is great because the action is in your face on the shoreline.