Brad Domke started it. Tom Curren made it functional. But Jerome Sayhoun just took skim-surfing to another level.
Jerome Sahyoun is a Moroccan man with a passion for surfing. Born and bred on world-class right points, Jerome wished for something new, something different to challenge his abilities. He traveled the world in pursuit of diverse and interesting waves and this satiated him, but only temporarily. Still looking for that special something, Jerome met two prominent men that would introduce him to his newfound passion of skim-surfing. But let’s have Jerome tell the whole whole story.
The man and his schtick.
Interview by Michael Ciaramella
Surfing: Where did this whole skimboard/surfboard thing stem from?
Jerome Sahyoun: I was introduced to surfing on skimboards when I surfed with Brad Domke last year in Mexico — he was riding a finless Exile Skimboard at Puerto and the points. Then I guess Brad met Tom Curren, and Tom was really interested in riding one in the surf, as he had previously been standing up on bodyboards for fun. Later on I met Tom in Bali, and he let me try a prototype of the skimboard with fins, and it was really tricky but fun to ride. Later Tom came to Morocco and we stayed 2-3 weeks together in the Sahara Desert, testing the boards every day in pumping waves. Through all of that testing, we found a good combination of size and shape and fins. Then Tom had the idea to add foam to the top for more float and a softer feel.
Skimboard, meet blue wall.
What are the specs of the model that you two landed on?
It's a 4'4", I'm not sure how wide or thick. The thickness changes whenever we change the foam out [laughs]. We have to switch it occasionally because it gets waterlogged and pieces start to fall off. We use FCS fins because the skimboard itself is very thin, and Futures boxes need more room.
How often do you surf this board?
Anytime the waves are smaller and good, I don't even want to look at my surfboard. If I am able to catch waves and they are clean on the face, I will only ride the skimboard.
The deck is made of unglassed surfboard foam. Naturally, it has a couple pressure dents.
What is so alluring to you about this alternative craft?
First of all, it is a challenge. I have been surfing for many years, and it's fun to ride something that forces me to think differently on a wave. When I first started riding the skimboard, it was very difficult. I fell on pretty much every wave because it was so sensitive compared to my surfboard. But I loved the challenge of having to figure out how to ride it, and now that I have an understanding of how to make the board work, it's giving me the best sessions that I've had in a long time. You can do more turns and take different lines. It's not the best for the barrel, but it does work in there as well.
With guys like you and Brad and Tom ripping these little things, people are bound to get interested in buying one for themselves. Does Exile have any intention of selling these?
I don't know. I have heard that they're giving a couple boards to some professional surfers who wanted to try them, but this would be a hard thing to sell to an average surfer because they are so difficult to ride. It takes such technical skill to balance on the skimboard – just a little too much weight on the front or the back or the side and you're going to dig a rail and fall. But that’s what makes it so fun for the expert surfer!
Even Jerome struggles from time to time.