14 Images

Flying under the radar

Morgan Just, 19, skimboards at Laguna Beach. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Bill Bryan, one of the world’s top skimmers, goes for a midair board grab. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
On the beach in South Laguna, Tyler Lopez, 21, charges the surf with skimboard at the ready. Behind him, other skimboarders watch approaching breakers looking for their next ride. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Bryan, left, skims while Chad Stickney rides a boogie board. Bryan says of his sport, “It takes skateboarding into the water.” (Don Kelsen / LAT)
In the surf at Aliso Beach in South Laguna, French championship skimboarder Mathieu Thibaud rides a Victoria Skimboard. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Scott “Scooter” Hayes studies the approaching surf. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Tex Haines charges surf with skim board in hand. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Scott “Scooter” Hayes skimboards in Laguna Beach. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Skimboarding shows signs of shaking off the sand-squirt image and catching a breakout from obscurity. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Laguna has remained the epicenter of the skim universe, thanks to the configuration of its shoreline, where a drop-off brings waves nearly to the sand before they break. The formation makes Laguna lousy for surfing but great for skimming. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Victoria is the standard-bearer for the skim scene, using lightweight materials to build highly maneuverable boards that allow skimmers to not just glide, but ride waves. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Bill Bryan finishes a ride with a wipeout. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Bryan has four screws and a metal plate in one ankle and gets dinged up most days, because there’s not much of a net in the high-wire act of wave skimming, which is done in the shallow water of shore breaks. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Skim pioneer Tex Haines, at Victoria’s headquarters, has waged a three-decade-long battle to bring his sport out of obscurity. (Don Kelsen / LAT)