Skimboarders Hit the Waves for the VBLA

Ethan GumpelVero Beach is becoming quite the skimboarding scene. This past Saturday, Central Beach was a scene as pro and amateur skimboarders and hoards of spectators crowded the beach by Mulligan’s for the ShoreLB Throw Down! Sunshine and sparkling seas greeted competitors, sponsors, spectators and families gathered to perform and witness amazing tricks, cheer or simply to soak up the fun and sun.

Skimboard competition came to Vero Beach in 2007 when Russell King, Jr. decided to combine skimboarding with fundraising for St. Jude’s; seven years later, the event has grown. Aaron Hager, father of Roman Vike Hagar, considers the ShoreLB event to be “one of the best; better organized than most Pro events”. Chris Ellison, the emcee “does a great job keeping the vibe happy and the contest moving along”. This year, skimboarders hit the waves to benefit the Vero Beach Lifeguard Association.

ET Baker, of Vero Beach, began skimming around 14 in 2004 on the beach by Mulligan’s. He has gained notoriety and sponsorships from ShoreLB, Skim City and Grape Skimboards over the last ten years. ET has seen an epic rise in skimboarding’s popularity. He attributes the rise to the increase in sponsorship and the “instant access to photos and videos of waves and skimboarders”.

Family fun was evident on Saturday. I observed nothing but smiles and was awed by the numbers of skimboarders politely waiting their next skim. Two of my neighbors, Ethan (10) and Cali Gumpel (17) were competing. Ethan finished first in his first set and third in his second. His sister, Cali, came in first in the All Gals and third overall.

Roman Vike Hagar (9) came from Ft. Lauderdale with his family. Roman has three years experience and loves the sport. Hoping to turn pro someday, Roman says “The ShoreLB guys make it fun and it doesn’t matter if the waves or weather are good or bad”. Speaking of conditions, ET Baker says Vero is one of “the most consistent beaches on the East Coast for skimboarding. Pretty much anywhere on the Treasure Coast is skimable at any time”.

By the way, ET’s favorite skimming spot happens to be South of the boardwalk on Jaycee Beach. View Photo Album on Facebook.

Sherry Nist