“We Can Use That Snapped Surfboard”

A short summary covering the history of skimboarding in Durban.

Skimboarding in Durban was jointly birthed in the contentious minds of the brothers Craig (the elder) and Luke (the buffer) Jordaan. Having seen it in the social periphery, they scoured their litany of broken surfboards (the brothers are known for their aggressive brutality in the water, on and off the board) and found one that seemed best suited to undergoing the conventional processes of shaving, shaping and re-glassing. The board didn’t last too long, although it is rumored to be in the debris of the Jordaan garage. With a particular interest, Luke (self-dubbed ‘Skimdaddy’, though the title is apt) bought a skinny, vicious board initially intended for strapless kiteboarding (or something) and appropriated it to skimboarding. The board (‘Green Flames’) is still in circulation.

Having seen it in the social periphery, they scoured their litany of broken surfboards and found one that seemed best suited to undergoing the conventional processes of shaving, shaping and re-glassing.

Luke’s first recruits were the Garret brothers, Rob and Lee. Sticking to the DIY mantra, they each built a board (Rob’s was particularly enviable, being surprisingly floaty), and these three boards tided over a small group of skimmers for nearly two years. Lee’s board was eventually passed on to Chris da Canha (for the ridiculous amount of R200) and Green Flames entered Zane Colquhoun’s quiver.

Sensing potential for an untapped market, Handsdown Industries was born (though its history is best saved for another article) and the 1st annual Handsdown Skim Championships was held at an overcast, but working Hitler’s Beach in Umhlanga, Durban. A heated final between Rob and Lee (after it initially ended in a tie) saw Rob crowned the first victor. His prize was a ‘professionally’ shaped board from a local surfboard shaper, but having a new board he was happy with at the time, he gave his winnings to Chris, who had been riding ‘Tiger Stripes’, a board prone to bouncing off the sand when dropped.

In the next few years, little changed. The core group stayed the same, riding standard boards and often sub-standard waves. Slowly other skimboarders appeared; most notable were those from the Bluff.

Considering the ever-evolving nature of the Durban skim scene, this article is difficult to end. Everything mentioned may seem a fairly distant memory (especially for Durban riders), but a history piece rarely ends with the present. Ultimately, the history of Durban skim is steeped in group dynamics; it was rarely enjoyed solo or in pairs. Everyone had someone they had to let know about the day’s spot, forming a pseudo-prayer chain for the ocean. This cluster consciousness may very well be the reason skimboarding in Durban has grown relatively slowly, but if so, it’s also the reason the skimboarding community are especially tight, and protective of their connections.

Note: This history is particularly slanted toward the Durban North skimmers.