How do you hydroplane on a skimboard? Tips & tricks

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  18.07.2022
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Hydroplaning on a skimboard in those shallow waters is sure a great way to leave your friends in awe.

But where the stunt is downright amazing, it is equally tricky and requires a great deal of expertise to perform correctly.

How do you hydroplane on a skimboard? Tips & tricks

You can’t just get any board, throw it in the water, and jump on it without effort. You will need guidance, will, and effort to master the skill.

Otherwise, making progress will be almost impossible, with a lot of failed attempts and a good amount of injuries along the way.

If you are one of the individuals who have realized that simply “running fast” and “jumping” won’t work, welcome to the club.

To hydroplane perfectly, first, you have to master all the basic techniques of handling a skimboard, like proper riding, perfect control, rotating, etc. Afterward, you can move on to learn the actual complexities of performing the stunt, like turning at the right moment and gaining the right speed to reach the waves.

In this article, we will be discussing everything you need to know about hydroplaning on a skimboard, and how you can perform it.

What is hydroplaning on a skimboard?

Hydroplaning is when you ride on top of the water instead of cutting through it.

This is done by building up speed, throwing your skim board forward, getting on it, and then rotating it in a way that your front side faces the direction you are moving in.

Once the skimboard stops, the user must pick it up and repeat the process, which involves re-orienting the skimboard and throwing it in the water again in the desired direction.

Hydroplaning is relatively advanced compared to other tricks you can do with a skim board.

To perform it correctly, you will need everything tip-top, from the type of board you use to your overall technique.

Also read: Do you need waves to skimboard? (hint: not always)

So, how do you hydroplane on a skimboard?

Assuming that you have mastered the basics of skimboarding already, let’s get straight into how to hydroplane on a skimboard like a pro:

Step 1: Position yourself properly

First, lean forward and hold your hydroplane board roughly 6 inches above the water, with one hand on the tail and the other on the side rail midway along with the hydroplane board.

When holding the board, ensure its direction is parallel to the water. One of the most common beginner’s mistakes is keeping the front of the board upward while throwing.

This significantly reduces the initial velocity of the board, and as soon as it touches the water surface, it is faced with high resistance.

As a result, the board doesn’t cover much distance, and you won’t be able to ride much farther once the board enters a slightly deep water zone.

Step 2: Throw it where the water level is optimum

The optimum water level for hydroplaning lies between 0.25 and 0.5 inches in the initial stages (when throwing the board).

You’re good to go if the water in front of you has a height between the specified measurements. Once the board catches speed, it can then safely hydroplane on water deeper than an inch.

We would also highly recommend throwing the board a few times from the starting position to warm up or simply to get the feel of the water.

Step 3: Properly mount the skimboard

Remember, you don’t “jump” on the board; you simply step on it in a gliding motion, with your front slightly past the center and the back foot a few inches from the tail.

However, there are some technicalities you must keep in mind to ace the technique.

Always run alongside the board with an even speed and aim to take at least 3 steps before getting your feet on the board.

Also, never push off too hard with your first foot. It will make the board shoot off in the forward direction, and you will ultimately end up hurting yourself.

For extra safety, we would highly recommend wearing a helmet in the first few tries. You’re surely going to fall at least once until you’re an ace skimmer.

Step 4: Rotate it

As soon as you get on the skimboard, the next thing you do is rotate the skimboard in such a way that your frontal side is facing the direction you are moving in.

This will keep your speed consistent, and give you the much-needed stability when you’re hydroplaning on deeper water, or meet a wave, let’s say.

This kid shows you how it should look:

Some precautions before you go hydroplaning

Hydroplaning, or skimboarding in general, is a very challenging and physically dangerous sport for novices not familiar with the technicalities of the activity.

Keeping that into account, the following are some of the most basic precautions you would like to take before you go on throwing your board into the waters:

Make sure you’re physically fit

Skimboarding is a physically demanding activity that requires sound physical health.

So before trying, make sure you are fit to run, jump, and maintain your balance on the skim board.

It would also be great if you could take a few falls. Because no joke, falling a few times is inevitable during the learning process.

Inspect the area fully

Before hydroplaning, you would like to ensure that the water in front of you covers an area of at least 20 to 30 feet, with a consistent level.

That’s especially necessary if you plan to take lengthy hydroplane rides.

You would also like to ensure that there are no hurdles in your path like rocks, shells, bottles, or anything that could potentially stop or harm you, or the board.

Always try to lean forward

If you were skimboarding, we would be staunchly recommending to lean forward.

But since hydroplaning is a little bit different, you’ll be leaning backward for most of the part, e.g when facing the water at your front-facing side after you rotate the skimboard.

This will help you a lot in keeping your balance and speed.


Hydroplaning on a skimboard can be a thrilling experience. Still, it’s essential to take some basic precautions before attempting this daredevil move.

Make sure you know the risks involved and have the proper equipment before trying to hydroplane on a skimboard!

In this article, we covered the basics of hydroplaning and the necessary precautions you need to keep in mind as a starter.

Now get out there and give it a try!

Want to practice skimboarding but don’t have water nearby? Use your skimboard everywhere with inflatable skimboard pool tracks

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Kauai Surf Report is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new sports with everything surfing at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2019 to help loyal readers with surfing and water sporting tips.