For years, pro surfer Colin Herlihy and pro skimboarder Bill Baxter have been showing up at the beach on Garfield Parkway in Bethany Beach every Monday night from 6 to 7 p.m. for the Bethany Beach Surf Shop Skim Jam. And, for years, it has been the premiere weekly summer event for skimmers across Sussex County.
“I think the kids, they count down the days until Monday,” said Herlihy. “They love it.”
“There was a kid last year who used to take the bus from Seaford and used to ride the bus for two hours to get here,” added Baxter, also recalling another skimmer from Frankford who would ride his bike all the way to Bethany every Monday.
This year’s turnout has been just as impressive as that in recent years, and both Herlihy and Baxter noted that none of it would be possibly without Bethany Surf Shop owners Jimmy and Sheila McGrath.
“It varies from week to week depending on holiday weekend and stuff like that, but we always have a good turnout,” said Baxter. “Once we moved up here to this, Colin and I teamed up, and it [has] just kind of blown up to this.”
“Sheila kind of came up with the idea and just asked us to be a part of it,” Herlihy added.
Groms of all ages, and even a few other local pros — including Dave and Tom Bracht — join the lineup on Monday nights, to root each other on and show off their skim skills.
Not only that, but anyone is free to try out boards provided by the surf shop — including Herlihy’s signature pro model from Toobs and performance skim models from companies including Zap and Exile.
“The kids are cutting grass, they’re scrounging cash together, they’re working hard to get their boards, so it’s a way for them to try and take it for a test drive,” Baxter further explained the concept. “A lot of kids have two boards — they have a Herlihy board for when the lifeguards are on duty and then they have a high-end skimboard for when the lifeguards are off-duty. It kind of gives them a mix of both, so they can stand up or bodyboard on Colin’s board and then they can have another skimboard.”
Even skimmers new to the sport, such as Herlihy’s neighbor, Jim Jim Robinson, are encouraged to grab a board and hit the surf.
“A lot of the kids — they’re not shy. They’ll come up and ask, ‘What do I need to do?’ ‘How do I do this?’” said Herlihy of some of the Skim Jam rookies.
Even with their own surfing and skimming careers going on, both Herlihy and Baxter always make time for Skim Jam every Monday night in the summer.
“It’s an awesome opportunity,” Herlihy said. “I do it because we didn’t have anything like this when we were young, so it’s the least we can do.”
“It helps spread the hype,” Baxter added. “Their riding just grows throughout the season from how it started in June to the last Skim Jam in August. I get stoked watching them. We didn’t have something like this to help spread the passion for the sport and just the love of the ocean.”
Bethany Skim Jam is held on Monday nights during the summer on the beach off Garfield Parkway, from 6 to 7 p.m. You can also check out Skim Jam photos on the Bethany Beach Surf Shop Instagram, @bethanybeachsurfshop.