How to Sandboard? Ultimate Beginners Guide to Sandboarding

What is Sandboarding?

The sport that was never considered an “official sport” is generally performed in large, sharp coastal dunes, and even in hot deserts where oceans and water are only an optical illusion.

Sandboarding is actually a combination of surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. As a replacement for of descending water, asphalt, or snow, a sandboard rides down or across the dune’s face. The sandboarding is considered as an old practice, although. Whether or not you believe, the Ancient Egyptians used to use wood planks to slide down the dunes and transport their heavy shipments from one place to another.

Nevertheless, and according to “The Encyclopedia of Surfing,” the first modern fanatics of sandboarding only started hitting the granular slopes between the times of 1940s and 1960s. Sandboarding was developed in the times of 1970s, mainly due to the energies of Gary Fluitt and Jack Smith. Appropriating patterns and knowhow used in the game of snowboarding, the sandboard became longer and wider than all other sports, with foot straps and slick Formica bottoms, wrote Matt Warshaw, author of the “Encyclopedia of Surfing.

As with all the surfboards, it was revealed that long board was better for drawn-out lines on big hills, while shorter boards had the benefit in terms of flexibility and were used mostly on smaller hills.

The Best Dunes and The Complete Equipment, a guide for the beginners

Sand dunes in Huacachina desert, Ica Region, Peru
Sand dunes in Huacachina desert, Ica Region, Peru Best for SnowBoarding

Do you know what are the best dune to start your sandboarding from? If not, here is a list for you to begin from.

  • Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (USA) 
  • Monte Kaolino (Germany)
  • Great Sand Sea (Egypt)
  • Namib Desert (Namibia)
  • Fish Hoek (South Africa)
  • Cerro Blanco (Peru)
  • Taklamakan Desert (China)

So, after selecting the perfect dune for yourself to start sandboarding what you should consider next? The second important thing that you must pay consideration to is equipment. Getting the perfect equipment for sandboarding is vital. Do not expand or adjust the apparatus from other sports.

Some of the main tips that you should keep in mind are;

  • Wax up your sandboard
  • Adjust the bands
  • Apply sunscreen
  • Put your sunglasses
  • Wear your helmet
  • Wear elbow pads
  • Wear knee pads
  • You should always ride a sand dune with someone around. In case of a mishap, you will need a friend or relative to help you out and call the emergency services.
  • Always keep a 10-foot distance from other riders, so that in case of a wipeout only one falls, and no one else gets injured in the process.
  • You must stay hydrated all the time

Are you ready to ride?

This is how you should begin with the process

  1. Hike up to the top of the desired dune.
  2. Always double-check the gear and make sure you are fully safeguarded.
  3. Perform small jumps forward toward the edge of the dune for practice.
  4. With the board’s tip pointing downhill, drop in with your leading front.
  5. Lean back and bend the back knee.
  6. Look properly where you want to go.
  7. As you start your slope down the dune, always keep your body weight on the back.
  8. To turn back, you need to apply pressure on your toes and heels, depending on the direction you want to go.
  9. Stretch your arms to the side to maintain your body balance always.
  10. Get back to the starting point for another run on a bigger dune.
  11. 11.Booking a couple of sandboarding lessons can also help you improve and evolve faster.

 

You should always stay away from sandboarding in deserts or beaches with small or medium-sized hurdles like sticks, plants, shells, and other natural and man-made barriers. If you feel insecure or about to fall, bend your knees and fall on your back to avoid hurting hour face and head. If you are still in control, try to whittle the sandboard as much as possible, until it loses speed and stops.

After learning the basics of sandboarding, you will considerably lower the chances of eating sand and breaking neck and bones.

Basic sandboarding tricks

Side Slipping

This easy exercise is good for multiple things when you are learning how to sandboard. First of all, to learn how to stop and secondly how to keep the edges up. Without having the knowledge of these two techniques you will end up eating lots of sand.

  • You must start on the slope of the dune standing with your toes pointing downhill.
  • Dig your heels in and keep your toes up.
  • You should not be going anywhere.
  • After that drop, your toes down so that the board is almost flat.
  • Start to slide downhill.
  • Slow yourself down by lifting up your toes and digging your heels in.
  • Then try that facing up the hill with your toes dug in the sand.
  • Lower your heels to slide backwards and lift them up to slow down.
  • Catching that edge can make you fall real hard so get it right.

Read More: Outdoor Activities Guide

Stopping

So, when you are riding straight. You cannot continue to learn how to sandboard until you can learn to stop. Here is what you should do to learn stopping while sandboarding

  • Get some speed on a straight run which smooths out.
  • As you hit the flat sand you than have to slide the back leg out so that you are facing down the slope.
  • Move your weight onto your front foot by pushing forward with your hips.
  • Rotate your shoulders and hips frontside.
  • Now you will lift those toes and slide that backfoot out.
  • When you are sliding center your weight onto both feet and slide evenly.
  • You will need a lot of practice to get this right.
  • Remember that you should not get into the habit of using this technique for slowing down at the same time as riding it tends to take the wax off the base really quickly.
  • When you want to slow yourself down make small quick turns to slow down a little and bigger sharper turns to slow down a lot.

Turning

This can be the most difficult step when learning how to sandboard. On some of the dunes where it is compressed, it is difficult and other dunes that are soft and sparkling it is easy to learn how to turn.

While learning how to sandboard, you will figure out how sharp you can turn dependent on the sand and its condition at that particular dune. Normally on dry sand you can dig your edges in deep and turn equally sharp and on wet sand you just can’t. If you turn too sharp you will wear your wax off on one edge of the base and it will start to grab making it difficult to go straight. The trick is to turn small amounts on either side of the board in difficult conditions.

In order to learn turning here is the step-by-step guide.

  • Start off by trying to turn a single direction at a time.
  • You must start riding straight down the hill.
  • To turn on your toe side your weight must be concentrated on the centre now start the turn by pushing your knees forward and lifting your heel slightly.
  • Try and hold it in this position and you will start to cut across the dune.
  • Your body position in sandboarding is extremely important.
  • Stay in the upright centred position with your hip’s shoulders and eyes all in line with the board.
  • With a sharp turn, you will rotate your hips so that they are pointed in the direction of where you are turning, and your body will lean into the turn.
  • Your body still stays upright, you must not bend your back at this point.
  • This is a very good movement, and you do not need to twist your body strongly or slide your back foot to turn.

In order to turn on your heel side you should follow these steps 

  • Ride straight in a line.
  • Lift your toes to bring your board onto the heel edge.
  • Keep your weight frontward.
  • Your hips and shoulders will turn slightly to the direction of the turn.
  • Hold your position there and you will turn.
  • When turning there is a postponement as you lift your board on edge, wait for it to engage before you turn sharper.

Note: your body is turning with the board so that your board shoulders and hips should all be in one line.

Linking turns

When linking turns you are going to turn first to the left then to the right.

  • Start of by turning onto your toe edge.
  • After that you should turn and tilting slightly into the turn.
  • Drop your heal edge and lift your toes.
  • As you heal edge starts to turn you will lean into the turn.
  • As you turn your hips shoulders and eyes follow the direction of the board.
  • Now turn the other way that is the right way.

It is very important to keep in mind that when understanding how to sandboard that you need to go on to your edge first before you lean into the turn but at the same time remaining upright through the whole movement. You should not ride too far on your back leg this gives you less control when turning and cause you to pick up speed quickly.

How to make up your mind to begin with sandboarding

Go with a pro

If you are someone who is not bold enough to just rent equipment and figure something out for themself, so having Third Coast instructor as an option to guide, answer questions and feed your egos regarding how great you did will help you a lot.

Choose wisely

You need to keep that in mind that hiking a sand dune is not an easy act. You must choose a small hill to start from and then go on the bigger and professional dunes, but if you are a beginner to the sport you also might want to see how you do before you deal with the biggest dune you can find according to your preferences. Even the most experienced and professional boarders had to stop and rest as he tackled the large hill near them and then stumbled a bit on his way down. 

Wax is vital.

Waxing your board is as important as carrying any other gear with you to protect you, waxing the board before you start sand boarding helps you to get rid to stuck in the sand If you go on your own and want to effortlessly glide down the hill, do not forget the wax.

Blink and you will miss it.

You should try to keep your weight on your back foot and to not lean too far forward so that you do not fall on your face and eat all that bunch of sand, but other than eating sand all that sand would go into your eyes leaving your vision blurry. You will be left with no time to focus on anything, you must try to slow down or correct your position.

If you stay upright at the end it would be by a pure luck. There is no doubt that finessing the board comes with practice. 

You will have a blast while sand boarding

If you fall after almost every run it would become shocking. You will feel your butt and your back almost immediately afterward and there will be even soreness in your upper body the next couple of days. But believe me all that pain is worth the fun.

You will have many enjoyable experiences over the years, but few will be so thrilling that they will stay with you for a long time. you must add sandboarding to the very short list as one of those rare things.

Guide for the beginners to make their own sandboard

Materials that are required to make a sandboard

Deck material

For building your sandboard, recommended is a lightweight hardwood preferably that are made up of maple or oak decks. You will require a board that is around 100-150cm long.

The easiest way to do this is to repurpose an old skateboard, snowboard or surfboard, or to get your hands on a plain skateboard deck with any of the wood material of your choice.

Base material

On top of the deck material, you will also require adding an extra layer of the seal to the base of your board in order to allow for waxing and reduce friction with sand. As a base material, the most common choice is a Formica sheet laminate.

Additional materials

  • Foot bindings (for sandboard)
  • Seat pad (for sand sledge)
  • Strong wood glue
  • Screws and screwdriver
  • Paint and stickers for decoration (optional)

DIY sandboard for beginners

  • Accessories you need for your DIY sandboard

Foot straps and foot bindings

You are going to have a hard time keeping your feet on top of the board unless you apply some sort of foot bindings for your sandboard. Dakin foot straps are enough in most cases, but you may want to opt for sturdier (snow)board bindings if tackling more difficult terrains or very mountain-like dunes.

  • Accessories for your DIY sand dune sled

Foot straps and foot bindings 

Again, you are going to have a hard time keeping your feet on top of the board unless you implement some sort of foot bindings for your sandboard. Dakin foot straps here as well are sufficient in most cases, but you may want to opt for sturdier (snow)board bindings if tackling more difficult terrains or very mountain-like dunes.

  • Accessories for your DIY sand dune sled

Seat pads

If you are making a board for sledging, then you should get your hands on some adhesive cushion padding to place on the back of your sled.

Starting with the shape: if you are repurposing a skateboard deck and are happy with the tail design, you can skip this step. If Not, you will need to ensure that both edges of the board are slightly bent upwards (the shape of the board should resemble a closed-mouth smile, not a flat line). To achieve this, immerse your flat board in water and place some heavy weights in the middle of it, then leave it alone for a couple of days. After that, take it out of the water, leave it to dry, and check the results. Repeat the process until the board is not flat anymore but looks like a skateboard.

After that glue, the base material to the bottom of the board, making sure to cover every inch. This is the portion of the board that will need to be waxed whenever you bring it on a sand dune.

Screw the foot bindings to the top of your board. You can position both bindings parallel to each other (and to the board) or have the one closer to the tail bent 45°. This will determine the position of your legs while sandboarding.

How to make your sandboard slippery

When you are done with making your own sand board, you will still need to regularly wax the base before and in-between every session before going to a dune. Always remember, a good sandboard is a properly waxed sandboard as mentioned earlier. Sandboard wax can be easily purchased online, but since you are here, you could also make your own wax for a full DIY sandboarding experience.

Choosing a style for your sandboard

Before you start compiling your board, you should ask yourself what purpose will this sandboard provide. Your sandboarding style will ultimately affect the ideal size and shape of your board, so think carefully!

Options are as follows

  • Standard terrain board (i.e., To slide down small dunes), 
  • A pro board (i.e., For taller dunes and mountains), 
  • A carve board (i.e., For freestyling, carving, and jumping tricks) 
  • A dune sled (i.e., For sliding while sitting or lying down) 

Sandboard design and shaping guidelines

Sandboards come in various sizes and shapes, with the most differentiating feature being their “tail”.

A board can come in one of three different tail designs: 

  • Round tail also called “twin tips”, because one end is the same as the other.
  • Square tail that is ideal for racing and slaloming
  • Swallow tail.

Twin tips are directional boards designed to be used in either direction, so there is no real difference between the “tail” and the “tip”. The V-shaped swallow tails allow for greater flexibility and quick turns.

 

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