Skating gives you a better understanding of how to keep your surfboard under your feet. Photo: Allan Franca/Pexels.
The salient relationship between skating and surfing is often forgotten. Curious to explore the similarities, overlap and how the one may help with performance in the other, we caught up with two of the best in the business: WSL rider, Beyrick de Vries and professional skater, Khule Ngubane.
There are three kinds of skateboards for different types of skating. A cruiser or longboard is for cruising along the promenade while a short board or trick board is what athletes like Khule Ngubane use to bust out tricks in the skate park, on a ramp or in the streets. The surf skate is the closest thing to surfing on asphalt and used by surfers like to perfect their wave riding skills.
Three times Monster Expression Session winner, Beyrick de Vries attributes his dominance in this competition to his skating ability and he is often seen warming up on a surf skate before getting in the water.
“Skating, especially ollies, gives you a better understanding of how to keep the board under your feet. The body movement of an ollie in skating and a 180 air reverse in surfing is exactly the same. A 180 ollie and 180 air reverse is the exact same movement. That is why I incorporate a lot of dry ollies in my training” he said.
De Vries said surf skating on asphalt was the best way to get good at actual surfing on the wave when he can’t be in the ocean. One of the key advantages of mixing surfing with skating is that surf skating improves your ability to turn on small waves.
WSL surfer, Beyrick De Vries mixes surfing with skating to improve his turning skills in small waves. Photo: Jacqueline Herbst/Howzitjax
“Because the waves are often only one to two foot at QS events, surf skating teaches you to turn your body in a very small six inch radius on the skateboard which hugely improves your ability to turn and get your whole body wrapped around in small waves.
Skaters are daredevils who function on raw passion and a “just go for it” mentality. Their maneuvers are not planned or calculated like surfers’ tend to be but are more like 70% confidence, 30% calculation and then in the moment they just react to what’s happening. The mentality that comes with skating can be a huge asset to surfers as they often seem to not go for something unless if they see it’s the perfect section.
“That is the link between skating and surfing, except the consequences,” he said, making reference to the difference between falling on asphalt versus in water.
Twenty-five-year-old Khule Ngubane’s ten years as a professional street skater has taken him across the globe to Russia, US cities like Tampa, Florida, Los Angeles, California and next year he will be competing in the Olympic Games in Japan as skating (and surfing) makes its debut as an Olympic sport.
“Skating is more a free spirited lifestyle than a sport. We see art and our maneuvers depend on obstacles”, said Ngubane.
On a rail he might do a 360 flip lip side, on stairs a switch big spin and on the ramp he might go for something like the gnarly heal flip combo.
Ngubane will be running a free skating clinic at The Ballito Pro, pres. by O’Neill where he will be giving lessons to kids, giving back to the community who has given him so much. The clinic also incorporates a contest with lots of epic prizes for the kids.
“I have been at The Ballito Pro, pres. by O’Neill for the last five years and it feels special to still be included. ‘The Pro’ is a vibe and I’m stoked to be part of it.”