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Which Board's For Me?

size-chart-4.jpg

The above chart was created by the guy behind Syndrome Skimboards, Anton Flewellen (probably spelled his last name wrong – sorry). Anyhow, it’s the best weight chart we’ve ever seen, so we took it on permanent loan from Anton when he shut down Syndrome (but we will give it back if he ever decides to reopen).

Anyhow, if you look at it, you’ll see that it takes into consideration how fast you run, the size and power of the waves you ride, and your weight. Like I said – a great chart.

And that leads us to an often-asked question: Why do the board weight limits on the Skim City site differ from those on the manufacturer's site? Are we shorting the weight range in order to sell you a more expensive board? Actually, it’s quite the opposite. 

The weight limits we’ve suggested are based on East Coast conditions. We actually say exactly that several places on the site. And as is echoed by the chart above, if you live on the West Coast where the waves are big and powerful, you’ll probably want to go down a board size from our recommendations. Over here, though, where you’re mostly dealing with small waves with little push, you’ll want the size board we recommend.

See, the weight ranges the manufacturers recommend on their pages aren’t geographically specific. Instead, they suggest a span that includes both East Coast and West Coast riders – making for a 40-50lb weight range, while our recommendations (which by the way are the same ones the manufacturers used to suggest) are in 20lb increments.

For instance, if you’re on the East Coast, weigh 190, and are trying to ride a ML board as suggested by one of the sites…Well, God bless and good luck. At Aliso, if you’re really good – sure, you might be able to get away with it. But over here in Florida, or Delaware, or NC or…well any place on the good old Right Coast where you have to plane out to get to the wave, it mostly just ain’t gonna happen for ya.

Of course, we could do like the manufacturers do and widen the weight range. But we don’t want to. We don’t want to see a 220 lb St. Augustiner who missed the fine print to drop $300+ on a Zap Ace only to find that unless it’s breaking right on the shore, he ain’t getting to the wave, and even then, probably isn't riding it very far if at all. In other words, we want you to buy the right board for your size and the conditions you’ll be skimming in. Simple as that.

Bottom line is this – You can’t win the Indy 500 in a Ford Escort. Yeah, you might get around the track a couple of times, but ya really ain’t got a shot at winnig the race. In skimboarding that means that nothing sucks more than to spend good money on a board that’s the wrong size. Too big means you can’t turn it; too small means you’re gonna struggle to get to the wave.

So sure, you can order any size board you like; we’ll sell you any board you want. After all, it’s your money. But we’re not going to tell you it’s the right size for you unless we believe it actually is. Crazy us, huh? And in 15+ years and more than 10,000 boards sold, we’ve got a fair amount of experience to believe in.

So, if you don't know what board you want, or don't what size you ride after reading all this, feel free to email greg@skimcity.com or call Greg @ 888-480-1881. But when you do, remember we need details: your weight, age, how many years you've been skimming, type of skimming you do (sand surfing or wave riding), and the type of shore break you skim. That way we can pick you out a board that will actually be the right size/style for you.

Now, what you’ll read below is a true work in progress, a quick thumbnail sketch of the brands and boards we carry. It’s meant to give you the basics, and not be the end-all, do-all bible of skimboards. In other words – you got more questions? Feel free to call us on the toll-free or shoot us an email. Cool?

 SKIMBOARD BASICS

We do not carry machine-made boards. And, except for the Vic Woodies and the DB woodies, all of the boards we carry are made with a foam core and are then covered with several layers of cloth which is bound to the foam core by goopy stuff called resin.

Most of the manufacturers use some sort of closed cell foam for their core. That means that, unlike surfboards, if you punch a hole in your skimboard, you don’t need to kill yourself to get out of the water and fix it for fear that your board’s foam will quickly turn into oatmeal (the Victoria Ultra Vac and only the Ultra Vac is the exception to this rule). Now this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to fix the board at all. Sooner or later, water will get into the hole and ruin the integrity (that’s a cool SAT word, huh?) of the bond between the foam core and the cloth shell, which will then weaken the overall strength of the board and SNAP!!

Now, the manufacturers generally use 4 different types of cloth. The basic cloth is called E-glass. It has the loosest weave and is therefore most susceptible to rocks and seashells. But, and way more important, the loose weave means the board is the most flexible, and thus (to a point) less prone to snapping. However, loose also means not quite as fast, especially if the rider is high up on the weight range. 

Texilium and S-glass are in the middle of the pack. Featuring a tighter/stronger weave, these boards are stiffer and stronger. That means they’re more resistant to shells, etc, but, more important, faster.

Carbon is considered by many to be the best. And while it is the tightest/strongest weaved cloth used (some manufacturers use Kevlar, but that’s another story), that doesn’t necessarily make it the best. Carbon is very stiff, and while that’s good for speed, it ain’t so hot if you like more flex in your board.

 POP

Ok, so what’s POP (geeze are you old or what?)? POP is generally the amount that your board’s going to bounce (and no, not when you drop it) back when you push down on it. Mostly it’s a skateboard term, but it applies to skimboards, too. POP is important, not only when you’re doing ollies (making the board jump up in the air while you’re still on top of it), but also when you’re wrapping (turning around and riding down) the wave. So POP is oftentimes necessary to complete your ride. How much and what type POP you want is up to the individual rider. Some guys like the fast POP of carbon, others like the slower slingshot effect of the other cloths. Which will you prefer? That’s your call, sparky.

Oh, one more thing: Remember, stiff is faster, but it also snaps more easily than loose.

Now in addition to using different cloths, manufacturers also use different resins to glue the cloth to the foam. Your basic board uses polyester. It’s the stiffest and hardest of the resins used. Zaps and Slotstiks generally favor polyester, and many of the Vics are made using polyester. Next is vinylester. Vic, Slotsti, and Exile use this resin on some of their boards, which is softer than polyester and thus more resistant to rocks, seashells, and sand abrasion. Finally, there’s epoxy. Epoxy sucks to work with and takes forever to dry. However, it’s the resin carbon seems to like best (meaning you use less and thus end up with a lighter board). It is also the softest of the resins, and is therefore the most resistant to rocks, seashells, and sand abrasion. Is epoxy the best? Exile, Velocity, and Grape love the stuff, Vic uses all three resins, and Zap and Slotstik are still mostly poly fans.

So as you can see, there are advantages to each of the resins, and each of the cloths. And each combination produces different results. And we didn’t even mention the fact that a lot of the boards are made from three layers of cloth, and often it’s not 3 layers of the same cloth. Whew!

Which is best? The one that puts the biggest smile on your face, of course. Don’t worry about who’s riding which board or which company sponsors which rider. Worry instead about your riding style, and which board best suits that style. Don’t have a style yet? Well, you will. And you’ll get it by borrowing your buds’ boards and riding them. Pay attention to how it floats, turns, rides. What do you like about it. What don’t you like. Before you know it, you’ll know what you want out of your board. And until then, buy the board you can afford and ride, ride, ride it.

Now, adding to the confusion of which resin/cloth combination is best for you, there’s also the fact that each of the board manufacturers make boards that are unique to the manufacturer. IOW, each manufacturer has its own design philosophy, and its own characteristics. Let’s check ‘em out, shall we?

Oh, and before we start remember, different isn’t necessarily better, it’s just different. Please don’t confuse the two.

All righty?

ZAP SKIMBOARDS

Zap is the largest skimboard manufacturer in the world. All of their boards are made in Venice, FL. They make the best starter boards out there, as well as some of the best high-end boards you could ever hope to ride.

Zap basically makes three types of boards: beginner-to-intermediate, and intermediate-to-expert, and expert. With the obvious exception of the sand-surfing Lazer, wave riders will find their Zap board will feel very “floaty,” like it’s floating way high on top of the water. This makes you feel like you’re going screaming fast out to the wave, however when you run out of speed, you sink like a rock. This doesn’t mean you get the least bit farther (or less far) than you would on any other board, it’s just the feeling you get while riding it.

Currently most all Zaps are made with polyester (we occasionally get an epoxy from them, and they can always be special ordered), and all the ones we carry have a foam core.

Here are the models:

Beginner

(Note all of the boards listed in this section are compression-molded and hand-painted, thus while the shape of each board is exactly the same, no two paint jobs will ever be.)

Lazer - The Lazer is the board you're looking for if you're looking for a board that will, in theory, allow you to do some sand surfing and maybe a bit of wave riding, too. Truly not a high-performance board, but then it's not supposed to be. Instead, it's kind of a hybrid between the Wedge and the Bat. Zap puts a weight limit of 115 lbs on it - exceed the limit and you'll either sink the board or break it - no fun either way, eh? The Lazer features down-turned rails, a smooth top, and comes in a boatload of designs and colors. It measures 40 x 19 3/4 x 3/8

Wedge - Medium - Suitable for riders up to 120 lbs, the medium Wedge is a great beginner board which can both sand surf and wave ride with no problem. This is the board most skimmers start on. 45 x 19 3/4 x 1/2

Wedge - Large - Ok, so you're a bigger guy (or gal) looking for a great board that will allow you to sand surf and wave ride, without dropping a small fortune. Well, if you’re less than 140 lbs, this is the stick for you. Oh, on the Zap site, they put 160 lbs weight limit on this one. Well, unless you’re skimming Cali, we think you’ll do better sticking to our suggestion of 140lbs. 49 x 19 3/4 x 5/8

Intermediate level

Chizel - A step up from the Wedge line, the Chizel is perfect is you’re just this close to the large Wedge’s weight limit, or if you want to up the quality of your ride just a bit. The Chizel is big enough to give you the float, but its narrow tail makes it super maneuverable. If you're between 125 and about 15o lbs, check out this sucker. Nice rocker, good weight, and really durable.

Pro - Medium - If you're between 125 and about 165 lbs, and looking for bang for your buck, check out this sucker. The medium Pro is big enough to give you plenty of float, but its narrow tail makes it super maneuverable. 51 x 20 x 3/4". Good rocker, nice weight, and really durable. What are you waiting for?

Pro - Large - If you're between 140 and about 185 lbs and looking to get the most bang for your buck, the large Pro could be for you. The Pro is big enough to give you the float you want, but its narrow tail makes it super maneuverable. Pretty durable, good rocker, and a nice weight. Buy now! 54 x 20 1/4 x ¾

The Best

Comp - The Comp is Zap’s top-of-the-line board and it’s the one you’ll see beneath the feet of all their pro riders. This lightweight, highly maneuverable sled is available in five sizes: XSmall, Small, Medium, Large, and XLarge. 

XSmall is great for riders under 100 lbs.
Small = 51" x 20" x 3/4" and is suitable for riders up to 140 lbs 
Medium = 53" x 20" x 3/8" and is suitable for riders up to 165 lbs 
Large = 54 1/2x 20 1/2 x 3/4" and is suitable for riders up to about 185 lbs.
XLarge = 56 x 21 x 3/4 and is suitable for riders up to about 225 lbs. Comes with and without art in 3 different cloths: E-glass, Texillium/Carbon; and Carbon.

Pro Rider Models – Several of Zap's top teamers have their own design. All  are made out of carbon; all feature the same rocker as the regular Comps. The major differences among the Pro Rider models and the regular Comps are as follows: 
The Jason Wilson board has a much pointier nose than all the other models. 
The Austin Bleiweiss model has a more rounded nose and slightly more narrow tail.
The Steve Boomhower board (which we've heard from team riders is unreal) has a slightly more pointed nose than the regular Comp and is a bit wider under the front foot. So...

M5 - The M5 is lightweight, super maneuverable, super fast in the wave face, and built to get waaaaay out there. It's available in four sizes (small, medium, large, and xlarge).

Upon riding these suckers we think that the weigh limits need to be lowered a bit here, so...

Small is suitable for riders up to 120 lbs. 

Medium is suitable for riders up to 140 lbs. 

Large is suitable for riders up to about 165 lbs. 

XLarge is suitable for riders uo to about 185 lbs.
(Zap suggests 140, 165, 185, and 220 respectively). Just a suggestion.

Rocket Fish – Here’s the best line rider out there (especially if you get the 1” thick version). Double winger, swallow-tail design holds you in the wave face like no other. Probably not the best board to have as your only board since its wave wrapping abilities pale in comparison to the usual pintail design, but if you can afford the luxury of a board specifically for liners – have at it.

VICTORIA SKIMBOARDS

Vic’s been around since 1976. What more could you need to know?

Ultra Vac - Vic's best-selling entry level board. Here you've go a stick shaped just like the ones the pros use, but made out of a better-for-the-budget-quality foam than the more pricey models. Generally a bit heavier than its pricier brother, its extra weight makes it easier for beginners to get it down in windy conditions.

 

Plain Wrap - Ok, so take a poly vac, use vinylester (instead of polyester) to hold it all together (if you've been paying attention, you know vinylester is stronger than polyester), skip the gloss coat (the shiny, final coat that makes it stiff and - you guessed it - shiny) and you've got a plane wrap (shouldn't that be spelled PLAIN wrap? Uh, yes it should, but we didn't name it - talk to Vic), Vic's new budget board. Really light with a fair amount of flex, this is the  board for those of you who care more about performance than appearance.

Poly Vac - Tex Haines (Vic's owner and the indisputable granddaddy of skimming) says the poly vac is the best board made, and who's to argue? This stick has plenty of pop to it, and its price won't break your bank, either.

  Vic S-glass - S-glass is stronger and stiffer than E-glass, but not quite as strong and stiff as carbon. But it's waaaay cheaper. So if you're looking for strength and stiff, but simply can't spring for carbon...

Vinylester – description coming

Vic Carbon - Take a poly vac, and replace one of the layers of  e-glass with carbon cloth. Carbon cloth, as you should know, is more resistant to shells and rocks, but it is also much stiffer than e-glass, with double carbons (a layer of carbon on each side) being even stiffer. So if you love tons of pop in your board, double carbon might not be for you. Of course if you love a stiff stick...

Vic Carbon Epoxy - description coming

 

SLOTSTIK

Established back in 1987, Slotstiks aren't just skimboards, they're serious works of art. No kidding. Buy one of these beauties and you'll see what I mean. It's almost a shame to ruin their picture-perfect surface with wax and pads. But you will. And that's where the real fun begins. Does any board hold the waveface better?  Eschewing (like that word?) epoxy in favor of polyester, Slotties come in basically 3 different styles and  3 different cloths.

Pro vac - description coming

S-glass - description coming

Carbon - description coming

330 series - Is the 330 Series from Slotstik the Best Buy in Skimboarding? From all reports it very well could be. Made using a double layer of cloth over a closed cell foam and incorporating the perfection that's made Slotstik famous, the satin finished 330 is great for wrapping and line rides. It's lightweight and has a surprising amount of POP for such an inexpensive ride.  

EXILE SKIMBORDS

One of the newer kids on the block, Exile set the skim world on its ear when they started producing epoxy boards for prices everyone could afford. Today, you'll see these sick sticks beneath the feet of some of the hottest rippers around. Offering uniquely designed, epoxy boards in 2 different rocker styles and 3 different clothes, Exile is the choice for intermediate-to- expert riders everywhere.

 Board descriptions coming

GRAPE

A couple of years ago, former Vic shaper, Paul Wade, took his act on the road and started making his own sticks. They're called Grape and they are the schnizzle (yes, mom and dad, that's a good thing). Made from ¾" blanks, these sleds are incredibly lightweight (like just a panda hair over 4 lbs), feature epoxy construction, and are available in e-glass, s-glass, and carbon (and before you go asking, that's e-glass, s-glass, or carbon on the top and the bottom). All the Grapes also feature full, reinforced rails which are hand-carved and tapered to make turning a dream. All in all, these boards are so insane I can't figure out why you haven't clicked the BUY button yet

 

 

Questions? Contact Skim City @ 1-888-480-1881 or email greg@skimcity.com