Surfing the Shore Break

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A local skimmer carves his signature into the Laguna watersports scene. –By Somer Flaherty

Matthieu Thibaud isn’t even 30 yet and he’s already spent more than two decades skimboarding and 13 years competing in the sport. A typical day for the professional rider is waking up, checking the weather forecast and swell, and hitting the sand. If the conditions are prime, he’ll spend a few hours honing his skills in the water before heading to work at Victoria Skimboards (the ultimate flexible job, just one of the perks of being a professional skimboarder and working for one of the sport’s pioneer outfitters). When he isn’t in the water or at the shop, he’s amassing a loyal following on his blog, which receives thousands of page views per month from fans in more than 50 countries ( The Laguna Beach resident is also committed to giving back by working with the local nonprofit, Heart of Sailing, which gives the experience of being out on the water to those with developmental disabilities—a portion of his signature skimboard model also benefits the organization.

 LBM: You grew up in France. Is that where you learned the sport?MT:I lived close to the beach in Pornichet, France. Growing up, my brother and I would spend the summers all day at the beach. We saw a few older guys skimboarding on wood boards and started to try to do the same. My grandfather, who loved to build stuff, made us wooden skimboards with plywood and resin. We haven’t stopped skimboarding since getting our first boards.LBM: Your first professional event was in Laguna. How did you get sponsored?

MT: Back in France, I used to follow the “French Skim Tour”—a three-contest tour throughout the summer at three different locations. At the end, points were added in a final ranking. I won the tour five times, and Victoria Skimboards started sponsoring me after my first victory in 2000.

LBM: Your favorite international riding spot?

MT: Cabo San Lucas in Mexico is a skim paradise: The water is so clear [and] warm, and there is the biggest and most powerful shore break I have ever ridden.

LBM: Great spots in Laguna to practice?

MT: In Laguna Beach, the best spots for beginners and intermediate riders is Thalia Street, Crescent Bay, Bluebird and Victoria Beach. For a higher level of riding, the best spots are Aliso Beach, West Street and Thousand Steps.

LBM: How should someone get started?

MT: There’s a good instructional DVD called “Paulo Prietto’s Sessions.” Skimboard champion Paulo Prietto explains from A-to-Z how to skimboard and how to progress step by step.

LBM: You recently shot a video for your pro model skimboard—any funny moments on set?

MT: It was a tight budget. and I only had a few hours to talk about my board in English (my native language is French) in front of three cameras with two attractive ladies right by me—all the ingredients to not be able to articulate correctly a single word. The results were so funny we actually had two versions come out: an official and less than official video; both are on YouTube.

LBM: What’s one thing future professional skimboarders should know?

MT: People who skim are passionate about the sport. Skimboarding has brought so much more to my life than I ever would have expected when I was sliding along the shore on my wooden board with my brother in France.


Take on the shore (and waves) with the right skimboarding gear

Belles Beach rash guard by Carve Designs, available at Toes on the Nose (276 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-4988;

Eco-friendly surf wax by Matunas, available at Thalia Surf Shop (903 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-3292;

Floral Rhapsody bikini by Roxy, available at Hobie Sports (294 Forest Ave.; 949-497-3304;

 Board Shorts by Hurley, available at 225 Forest (225 Forest Ave.; 949-494-7907;

Matthieu Thibaud skimboard, available at Victoria Skimboards (2955 Laguna Canyon Rd., Ste. #1; 949-494-0059;

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