By Carly Layne

Surf & SUP : Ride the Wave

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An Interview with Paulo Prietto

Paulo, obviously you’re a skim boarding pro. How long have you been at this sport?

I started skimboarding when I was about 7 years old (1989) down at Victoria Beach. I started on a wood skimboard and got hooked gliding across the sand and surface of the water. Since then it’s been a big part of my life.

I read that you said that Laguna is heavily linked to skim boarding. How so?

Laguna Beach is the birth place of skimboarding. In fact, two lifeguards from the 1930’s era were the first one to “skimboard.” Laguna Beach is not only the birthplace, but it is one of the best locations to skimboard in the world. The beaches in Laguna are unlike any others. The unique coastline offers numerous shorebreak beaches and waves that have a “sidewash” type of wave, which is ideal for skimboarding. Most locations would be lucky to have one world-class skimboarding beach whereas Laguna has several.  As a result, it attracts skimboarders from all over the world.

Where are your favorite places to skim in Laguna?

That’s a tough one. I love different beaches in Laguna for different reasons. Lately my favorite beach has been Thousand Steps Beach because I always get a sense while down there that I’m somewhere special. The high cliffs surrounding the beach, crystal clear water and ideal skimboarding conditions are like being in a fantasy. This last year we had one of the best swells in the past 20 years (Hurricane Marie). Marie pushed so much sand around down at Thousand Steps that it made it the skim the best I’ve seen it ever.

What are your favorite boards to ride? Are you still an Exile guy?

Exile makes the best skimboards in my opinion. I’ve worked closely with them to design the best skimboard for Laguna’s conditions. Exile is probably the most popular board among the pros and core skimboard riders because their boards have proven to excel in all conditions.

Who are some of your influences when it comes to skim riders?

When I was growing up, Bill & George Bryan were some of my biggest influences. I watched their VHS skim videos till they were too worn out to watch. Other than them, my biggest influence was my older brother who I skimmed with growing up. He and I loved skimboarding and would skim rain or shine, big or small- it didn’t matter the conditions because we felt free.

You’re a UST champ. Is there anyone new to the scene and the UST that you find super impressive?

There are several guys doing some amazing things in skimboarding these days. In my opinion, Blair Conklin has the best style out there. Something that most wouldn’t notice about him is that he has amazing wave knowledge. Watching him is a pleasure as he makes skimboarding look effortless. Other than Blair, Brad Domke is doing things no one has ever done on a skimboard. Brad recently rode the biggest wave on a skimboard in Mexico. He was towed in from a jet ski to a 30+ foot wave. The wave caught the attention of surfer around the world and he is nominated for XXL wave of the year. The are several others that I am impressed with including Sam Stinnett & Austin Keen, but I could go on and on.

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment in your career to date?

All the contests and championships I won don’t measure up to the positive influence & impact I’ve made to skimboarders around the world. I am floored by the number of people who continue to come up to me to say that I had a positive impact in their lives. It’s a tremendous honor. I never anticipated skimboarding to provide all that it has and continues to do for me. I hope I can leave a legacy to the younger generations of skimboarders who will carry the torch in pushing the limits of the sport.

Can you tell us a little about Laguna’s Solag Skim School?

SoLag Skim School aka South Laguna Skim School is my skimboarding instruction business that I created in 2004. I went to college with the plan of being an elementary school teacher. I never liked the classroom setting so I created business out of my passions for skimboarding and teaching.  I teach summer camps, private lessons, and after school classes. It’s something I really enjoy doing. Kids have such a thirst for life that I fell privileged to share in their journey. You can find more info about it at www.SoLagSkimSchool.com

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to skim groms coming onto the scene?

Skim because you enjoy it. The skimboarding community is very welcoming. Don’t be intimidated to introduce yourself to a fellow skimboarding. You’ll be surprised how welcoming they will be. On a technical side, pay attention to the tides and swell direction. The better you understand their impact to the skimboarding conditions, the better chances you will have at catching good waves.

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