Stone skipping

Stone skipping and stone skimming are considered related but distinct activities: both refer to the art of throwing a flat stone across the water in such a way (usually sidearm) that it bounces off the surface. The objective of "skipping" is to see how many times a stone can bounce before it sinks into the water; the objective of "skimming" is to see how far a bouncing stone can travel across the water before it sinks into the water. In Japan, the practice is referred to as Mizu Kiri, which loosely translates to "water cutting." In Mizu Kiri contests, both skimming and skipping principles, as well as a throw's overall aesthetic quality, are taken into account to determine the winners.

Stone skimming
Stone skipping in Haast, New Zealand

Championships and recordsEdit

The "Big Four" American stone skipping contests include (in order of establishment & participant rankings): (1) The Mackinac Island championship, held on July 4 in northern Michigan (entry by invite only; must win prior Mackinac Open or Pennsylvania Qualifyer to enter); (2) The Pennsylvania championship, held usually the 3rd Saturday of August in Franklin, PA - about one hour southeast of Erie (winners permitted automatic entry to the Michigan contest); (3) The Vermont championship (about one month after Pennsylvania) on the shore of Lake Paran, North of Bennington; (4) The Great Southern championship in Arkansas (Labor Day weekend).

Also notable, Coleman-McGhee founded the North American Stone Skipping Association (NASSA) in 1989 in Driftwood, Texas. NASSA-sanctioned world championships were held from 1989 through 1992[citation needed] in Wimberley, Texas. The next official NASSA World Championship is expected to be held at Platja d'en Ros beach in Cadaqués, Catalonia, Spain.[citation needed].

A stone skimming championship takes place every year in Easdale, Scotland, where relative distance counts as opposed to the number of skips, as tends to be the case outside of the US.[1] Since 1997, competitors from all over the world have taken part in the World Stone Skimming Championships (WSSC) in a disused water-filled quarry on Easdale Island using sea-worn Easdale slate of maximum 3" diameter.[2] Each participant gets three throws and the stone must bounce/skip at least twice to count (i.e. 3 water touches minimum).[3] The WSSC for 2020 and 2021 were cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. The 2022 competition is due to be held on 25th September.

Other domestic distance-based championships in the UK are currently the Welsh and British, but they were cancelled in 2020 & 2021 for reasons including the COVID-19 pandemic. The British is next due to be held in 2023. Japan holds competitions where both skimming and skipping principles, as well as a throw's overall aesthetic quality, are taken into account to determine the winners. At present, there is also a competition at Ermatingen in Switzerland and occasionally in the Netherlands (both skimming/distance-based).

The world record for the number of skips, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is 88, by Kurt "Mountain Man" Steiner (b. 1965). The cast was achieved on September 6, 2013, at Red Bridge in the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania.[4] The previous record was 65 skips, by Max Steiner (no relation to K. Steiner), set at Riverfront Park, Franklin, Pennsylvania. Before him, the record was 51 skips, set by Russell Byars on July 19, 2007, skipping at the same location.[5] Kurt Steiner also held the world record between 2002 and 2007 with a throw of 40 skips, achieved in competition in Franklin, PA.

The Guinness World Record for the furthest distance skimmed using natural stone stands at 121.8m for men, established by Dougie Isaacs (Scotland), and 52.5m for women, thrown by Nina Luginbuhl (Switzerland). These records were made on the 28th of May 2018 at Abernant Lake, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Wales.

Men's World Skimming Championship winners by yearEdit

2020 and 2021 Championships cancelled due to aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2019 Péter Szép Hungary
2018 Péter Szép Hungary
2017 Keisuke Hashimoto Japan
2016 Dougie Isaacs Scotland
2015 Dougie Isaacs Scotland
2014 Dougie Isaacs Scotland
2013 Dougie Isaacs Scotland
2012 Ron Long Wales
2011 Dougie Isaacs Scotland
2010 Dougie Isaacs Scotland
2009 David Gee England
2008 Eric Robertson Scotland
2007 Dougie Isaacs Scotland
2006 Tony Kynn Australia
2005 Dougie Isaacs Scotland
2004 Andrew McKinna Scotland
2003 Ian Brown Scotland
2002 Alastair Judkins New Zealand
2001 Iain MacGregor Australia
2000 Scott Finnie Scotland
1999 Ian Shellcock England
1998 Ian Shellcock England
1997 Ian Sherriff New Zealand
1993 David Rhys-Jones, Matthew Burnham, Jonathan Ford Joint winners

Women's World Skimming Championship winners by yearEdit

2020 Championship cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2019 Christina Bowen-Bravery UK
2018 Lucy Wood England
2017 Nina Luginbuhl Switzerland
2016 Lucy Wood England
2015 Lucy Wood England
2014 Helen Mannion Scotland
2013 Lucy Wood England
2012 Lucy Wood England
2011 Joanne Giannandrea Scotland
2010 Manuela Kniebusch Germany
2009 Tessa Pirie Scotland
2008 Jillian Hunter Northern Ireland
1997–Present (Honorable Mention) CC Crosby United States

Scientific explanationEdit

Stone skipping

An early explanation of the physics of stone-skipping was provided by Lazzaro Spallanzani in the 18th century.[6][7][8] The stone generates lift in the same manner as a flying disc, by pushing water down as it moves across the water at an angle. Surface tension has very little to do with the physics of stone-skipping. The stone's rotation acts to stabilize it against the torque of lift being applied to the back.[6][7][8]

Research undertaken by a team led by French physicist Lydéric Bocquet discovered that an angle of about 20° between the stone and the water's surface is optimal to produce the highest amount of skips.[7][9][8] Bocquet and his colleagues were surprised to discover that changes in speed and rotation did not change this fact, as it allowed the stone to be in balance and to continue with a straight and uniform movement due to the gyroscopic effect.[9] Work by Hewitt, Balmforth and McElwaine has shown that if the horizontal speed can be maintained, skipping can continue indefinitely.[10] Earlier research reported by Bocquet calculated that the world record of 38 rebounds set by Coleman-McGhee, unchallenged for many years, required a speed of 12 m/s (25 mph), with a rotation of 14 revolutions per second.[9]


  • English: "skipping stones" or "skipping rocks" (North America); "lobsta cutting" (Cape Cod, North America); "stone skimming" or "ducks and drakes" (Britain); "skiting"[11] (Scotland) and "stone skiffing" (Ireland)[12]
  • Bengali: "frog jumps" (Bengbaji); "kingfisher" (Machhranga)
  • Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian: "(to throw) little frogs" ([bacati] žabice)
  • Bulgarian: "frogs" (жабки)
  • Cantonese: "skipping (little) stones" (片石(仔) [pin sek (tzai)])
  • Catalan: "making step-stone bridges" (fer passeres); "making furrows" (fer rigalets); "skipping stones" (llençar passanelles)
  • Czech: "to make/throw froggies" (dělat (házet) žabky/žabičky – countrywide and generally intelligible); "to make ducks/drakes/ducklings" (dělat kačky/kačeny/kačery/kačenky/káčata/káčírky - in East Bohemia and parts of Moravia); "little fishes" (rybičky/rybky); "saucers" (mističky); "plates/dishes" (talíře); "wagtails" (podlisky/podlíšky/lyšky); "divers" (potápky); "pot-lids" (pokličky/pukličky); "flaps" (plisky/plesky); "plops" (žbluňky); "darts" (šipky); "bubbles" (bubliny); "Jews" (židy); "figures" (páni/panáky); "gammers"/"wagtails" (babky); "dolls"/"girls"/"dragonflies" (panenky); "to ferry Virgin Mary" (převážet panenku Mariu)[13]
  • Danish: "slipping" (smut or at smutte); "to make slips" (at slå smut)
  • Dutch: "ketsen" (bouncing)
  • Estonian: "throwing a burbot" (lutsu viskama)
  • Finnish: "throwing bread/a sandwich" (heittää leipiä/voileipiä)
  • French: "making ricochets" (faire des ricochets)
  • Greek: "little frogs" (βατραχάκια)[14]
  • Hungarian: "making it to waddle", lit. "making it walk like a duck" (kacsáztatás)
  • Italian: rimbalzello
  • Japanese: "cutting water" (「水切り」[mizu kiri])
  • Korean: mulsujebi (물수제비), meaning water (Korean; RRmul) and Korean soup sujebi.
  • Lithuanian: "making frogs" (daryti varlytes)
  • Macedonian: "frogs" (жабчиња)
  • Mandarin: da shui piao (打水漂)
  • Marathi: bhakrya kadhne
  • Mongolian: "making the rabbit leap" (tuulai kharailgakh); "making the dog lick" (nokhoi doloolgokh)
  • Nigerian: "the way a dragonfly skips across the water" (lami lami)
  • Norwegian: "fish bounce" (fiskesprett)
  • Polish: "letting the ducks out" (puszczanie kaczek)
  • Portuguese "water shearing" ("capar a água");[15] "making tiny hats" ("fazer chapeletas")[16]
  • Russian: "frogs" (лягушки [Lyagushki])
  • Spanish: "making white-caps" (hacer cabrillas); "making little frogs" (hacer ranitas); making ducklings (hacer patitos)
  • Swedish: "throwing a sandwich" (kasta smörgås or kasta macka)
  • Telugu: "frog jumps" (kappa gantulu)
  • Turkish: "skimming stone" (taş sektirme)
  • Ukrainian: "letting the frogs out" (zapuskaty zhabky)
  • Farsi/Persian: سوری زدن
  • Vietnamese: "ricochet" (ném thia lia); "tossing stone" (liếc đá)

In popular cultureEdit

The lead character of the 2001 film Amélie skips stones along the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris as a plot point,[17] and picks up good skipping stones when she spots them.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Scotland - Scots dominate in stone skimming".
  2. ^ "World Stone Skimming Championships 2007". Archived from the original on 2008-10-23.
  3. ^ "World Stone Skimming Championships, Easdale Island". Archived from the original on 2017-12-13.
  4. ^ "Most skips of a skimming stone".
  5. ^ Silver, Jonathan D. (2007-09-30). "A stone's throw and then some to a Guinness record". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  6. ^ a b, Editor at. "The science and art of stone skipping". Surfertoday. Retrieved 2020-09-25. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  7. ^ a b c Pascal, Molly. "Perspective | Kerplunks, pitty-pats and skronkers: The world of competitive rock-skipping". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  8. ^ a b c, VINCE DEVLIN. "Montana record a stone's throw away at Polson rock-skipping contest". Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  9. ^ a b c Clanet C, Hersen F, Bocquet L (January 2004). "Secrets of successful stone-skipping". Nature. 427 (6969): 29. doi:10.1038/427029a. PMID 14702075.
  10. ^ I. J. Hewitt; N. J. Balmforth & J. N. McElwaine (2011). "Continual Skipping on Water". J. Fluid Mech. 669: 328–353. doi:10.1017/S0022112010005057.
  11. ^ "Scots dominate in stone skimming" - BBC News, 25 September 2005
  12. ^ The Secrets of Stone Skipping, Coleman-McGhee, 1996, ISBN 1-883856-01-9
  13. ^ Český jazykový atlas 1 (Czech Language Atlas 1), Academia, Prague, 2004, pp. 110–113, (dělat) žabky
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-03. Retrieved 2013-07-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Leite de Vasconcellos, José (1882). Tradições populares de Portugal. Porto: Livraria portuense de Clavel & ca. p. 76.
  16. ^ Vieyra, Antonio (1860). A Dictionary of the English and Portuguese Languages: In Two Parts, English and Portuguese, and Portuguese and English, Volume 1. london: Luke Hansard. p. 142.
  17. ^ The Guardian review, 15 August 2001

Further readingEdit

  • Coleman, Jerry. The Secrets of Stone Skipping, Stone Age Sports Publications, January 1996 ISBN 9781883856014
  • Lorenz, Ralph. Spinning Flight: Dynamics of Frisbees, Boomerangs, Samaras and Skipping Stones, Copernicus, New York, September 2006 ISBN 0-387-30779-6

External linksEdit