Brad Domke, on his way to a finless shack. Photo: Hinkle

Brad Domke, stalling en route to a finless shack. Photo: Hinkle

Brad Domke, 25 years old, from Wabasso, Florida, is a pro skimboarder who spent most of his summer on your computer screen, doing insane things on huge waves in Mexico. He’s a YouTube jewel. Domke used to compete on the pro skimboard tour, then took a break to chase huge surf. A couple weeks back, he nabbed a Billabong XXL “Ride of the Year” award nomination for skipping into and out of a gaping Puerto tube. We asked him 5 questions.

Why? Why do that? Why ride a skimboard in massive waves?

I love my skim and I love big waves. When you put them together it’s a beautiful thing.

Do you put the skimboard away after you get the shot, then paddle out on a surfboard?

All depends on what the waves are doing. But I try to ride my skim as much as I can. I kind of go through phases. Sometimes if I’ve been surfing a lot, I’ll just feel the need to change it up. And vice versa.

Can you describe the thoughts going through your head when you got whipped into your massive, XXL-nominated Puerto bomb? (below)

When people ask me how it feels, I tell them it’s like cutting butter with a hot knife. That was a crazy moment. The way the wave was building, I could feel the heaviness growing behind me and I was starting to get butterflies in my stomach. When I let go of the rope I was skimming so fast down the face. By the time I got to the bottom, I looked up at the lip, saw how tall it was standing, and I couldn’t believe my eyes—it was unreal. I went for the stall and watched the biggest lip of my life go over me. It was so mean looking. When the wave started to spit I was completely blinded and just going with the feel. I was on my back foot leaning so hard, it felt like my toes were digging into the rail. I came flying out barely on my rail’s edge. And then I was hydroplaning through all the foam. It was one to remember.

OK, what about this closeout? (below)

It was chaotic. I saw what I thought was going to be a mutant left and just went for it. Didn’t know it would be a mutant closeout. I was dragging my back hand down the face just trying to keep my line. It felt like my pectoral muscle was tearing off, I was going so fast. When I got to the bottom I tried to hydroplane away from the lip; I was just hoping for the best, didn’t know if the lip was gonna get me or not, then it landed right behind me. It was the craziest sound, and something I have never felt from the ocean before. I got held down and rag dolled and the ski couldn’t get to me. The gnarliest beating of my life. Couldn’t push off the bottom, taking waves on my head one after the other. Could barely swim to the top to catch a breath before taking the next wave on my head. I was on the brink of panic mode. I eventually got pushed in by a big whitewash and got to the beach coughing and taking deep breaths and just glad to be on land. I realized I had to focus and get back out there and try again. And shortly after I got the biggest wave of my life on a skimboard.

I’ve seen the clips, you handle yourself just fine on a surfboard—so what percentage of the time do you surf vs. ride a skimboard?

I try and change it up and make sure I get on both as much as possible. I learn so many things from both and I love the challenge of trying to keep up with progressing on my boards with fins and without them. So I’d say it’s pretty even.