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by Martin Reynoso
It’s late in the afternoon in the City, and amidst the bustle you see a steady stream of youths arriving at a small pathway leading to the beach. Between their armpits they carry mini surfboard shaped pieces of decorated plywood – called Skimboards. Coming from work or school, they start arriving on bicycles, tricycles, jeepneys, cars and even on foot and rush to the beach to hit the waves. Sounds like Hawaii? Nope. This is Legazpi City, and these locals are doing what they love – skimboarding.
The sport of skimboarding entails running as fast as you are willing to fall, throwing your skimboard onto a thin film of water (around an inch deep of water is best), and then hopping onto your board and sliding down the slope of the beach. If your athletic and talented enough you can do one of three things while sliding down the sand, one is to start doing some wild tricks like handstands or 360s, or you could use the incoming wave as a makeshift ramp and launch yourself into the air (up to 3 feet if your going fast enough on a good sized wave) or do what the masters do and meet the incoming wave, turn around, and surf it back to the shore (after successfully doing this you are expected to throw a thumbs up and the biggest smile you can muster as the crowds start cheering! -There are often lots of kids on the shore who cheer on the pros or give useful tips to beginners).
It actually seems like a very easy and straightforward thing to do, but like many other sports, it is a bit harder than it looks. With a little bit of practice though, a few wipeouts, and lots of guts (the faster you run the longer your ride!-but again remember run only as fast as your willing to fall) you can be a skimboard pro in no time.
Well before you start you will need a skimboard. These are relatively easy to make. One person can make 4 skimboards from a whole piece of ½ inch marine plywood. If you are just visiting though you should head over to Mayon skimboards and outdoor shop at 5th street Our Lady’s Village Bitano Legazpi City and rent or purchase your own board. Board prices vary- ranging anywhere from P600 to P1,500 depending on how cool your board looks and how much work has gone into it.
Renting is another option but beware, boards tend to break after substantial amounts of use and if they break while you are using them you are expected to pay for them. The locals are very helpful and can help you with directions to the best beach spots and skimboarding lessons if needed.
After you have your skimboard it is time to head to the beach! Legazpi’s loose volcanic sand beaches (loose sand makes for a softer landing if you fall) are perfect for skimboarders because they offer varying wave breaks for both amateurs and experts. Amateurs will prefer flatter portions of the beach usually found at the mouth of small creeks and experts will usually choose the areas where wave breaks are the largest. The beach most frequented by the locals lie between two coconut oil refineries Cosay and Legazpi Oil. From 3pm onwards many locals start arriving to enjoy the afternoon Pacific swells. The best time of the year is from February until early June where the waves are at their largest.
The very best part of the Legazpi skimboarding experience is being able to share the experience with friendly people from absolutely all walks of life. Because of the affordability of the equipment and the free use of the beach, you get musicians, street vendors, bankers, waiters, business owners, tricycle drivers, students, beach bums, and kids skimboarding side by side. When you are on the beach skimboarding, social status become irrelevant and all that matters is how much fun your having….. And how cool you look on the waves…