Adrien Raza is a professional skimboarder and four-time European Champion in the sport. Skimboarding is similar to skateboarding. Only participants glide over water instead of land. Adrien says the tricks in skimboarding also resemble those of skateboarding.
The skimboard is a thin wooden board that sort of looks like a miniature surfboard. As the name suggests, it skims lightly over the surface of the water as the athlete performs tricks.
Adrien says this about the sport:
“It was pretty much love at first sight, so as soon as I stepped on that skimboard for the first time, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to keep practicing this, I wanted to get good at it, and I did.”
Adrien first discovered the sport through his cousin one summer during his youth. Adrien was heavily involved in football at his school and spent many hours training. However, once his cousin let him try out his skimboard, he soon found a new obsession. Adrien felt skimboarding was more liberating than football, so he learned everything he could about the sport.
How Adrien Started Skimboarding
He spent hours watching YouTube videos of people skimboarding, trying to learn the basics. Once he’d practiced enough, he joined a skimboard group to pick up new tricks. The rest is history.
“So, the first time I stepped on a skimboard, I was maybe 12 or 13 years old, and I’m 25 now. So I’ve been doing this for most of my life,” Adrien says. “I think the freedom aspect of skimboarding is the most satisfying for me, and I’m not talking about the deep sense of freedom. It’s more, a skimboard is not very restrictive.”
Adrien skimboards pretty much anywhere, from city streets to backyard pools to beautiful beaches. He enjoys using his creativity in the sport and always keeps an eye out for new places to practice.
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Adrien takes the global skimboarding scene by storm.
In an interview with Red Bull, Adrien says there are three different types of skimboarding: flatland, wave, and urban. Flatland skimboarding takes place in shallow water, such as on flat beaches and in rivers. Wave skimboarding, as the name suggests, resembles surfing since it involves waves. Adrien lives in the Netherlands, so he doesn’t get to practice this form very often. His main focus is on urban skimboarding since he’s usually in big cities.
He stumbled upon urban skimboarding by accident, actually. During a visit to Taiwan, he didn’t have a car to get to the beach, so he improvised. He explored the city, looking for rails and ramps to perform tricks. There’s no shortage of places to practice in the bustling centers of Taiwan, as he quickly found out. While he does many of the same tricks, Adrien enjoys scoping out new places, as it feels like he’s rediscovering the sport each time.
Since the age of 16, Adrien has competed in small competitions in the Netherlands. He started getting the attention of people around the world. Eventually, He landed a sponsorship in the U.S. Adrien went there for a bigger competition and went on European tours each summer. Now, he’s a four-time European champion in skimboarding, something he’s very proud of.
He even got asked to perform tricks at a local skatepark in the Netherlands! You probably wouldn’t think of skimboarding at a place like that, but in Adrien’s mind, there are no limits. Of course, he’d never tried it before and didn’t know if it would work. He didn’t want to destroy the skatepark with the board, so he decided to do a few practice runs first.
Initially, it seemed difficult to skimboard at the location, but Adrien improvised and came up with a few ideas. Everything turned out well, according to his Instagram post. Here’s what he had to say about the experience:
“Huge shoutouts to @waalhalla for intentionally flooding their park. Absolute legends! We managed to clear out the flood and are already plotting for an improved way of doing it! Full video dropping soon!”
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If a place has water, it looks like Adrien’s game for skimboarding it.
The fascinating history of skimboarding
Where did the idea of skimming the surface of the water on a wooden board come from, anyway? According to Surfer Today, it originated in Laguna Beach, California, around 1920. Lifeguards wanted to surf the shore breaks, but the water was too shallow for their surfboards.
So, they ended up building a small, round board using two planks of redwood and three strips of oak. The board was held together with machine screws and square nuts and was about five feet long. Fast forward a few decades and the design morphed into a much smaller, wider shaped board. This allowed for surfing waves and catching shore breaks more easily.
Now, people worldwide have gotten into the sport, practicing in rivers, lakes, ponds, and big cities. As Adrien explained, the sport has made it into the big leagues as well. In 1976, the first annual World Skimboard Championships were held at Aliso Beach, California. From that moment forward, it became a respected sport in the water sports community.
“Many of you have probably never heard of skimboarding, and that is really what I’m trying to push. I’m trying to bring awareness to skimboarding; I want more people to try it out and more people to feel that feeling I described before,” Adrien says.
Final thoughts on the guy who continues to make history with skimboarding
Skimboarding is much like surfing. Only it doesn’t require any particular wave or wind conditions. You can try this sport anywhere as long as you have shallow water and a board. That’s what Adrien loves about the sport – it’s versatile, flexible, and the opportunities are endless. Ultimately, the feeling he gets while skimboarding keeps him interested in the sport.
What started as a hobby led to a full-blown career, and he’s even won several major competitions in Europe. Adrien’s only 26, so he’s got many years ahead to break world records in skimboarding. Who knows where he’ll end up next, but we’re excited to keep following his journey.
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