With the ongoing effects of the pandemic, we have all seen how important it is to buy local. This coupled with the ever growing popularity of skateboarding has led to this rant *ahem* opinion piece.
Over the past few months I have been engaging with stakeholders within the industry, discussing how we are going to see more non-skater companies capitalize on the popularity of skating to make a quick buck while the gettin's good. At the moment we have a bunch of overseas distributors starting to sell into New Zealand, but not putting anything back into our local skate scene. Rebel Sports has been selling skateboards for a while and today an advertisement popped up on my social media for Number One Shoes - they also sell skateboards now. I don’t blame them, both are massive companies and can see there is money to be made, but as skaters we need to ensure stores like this get the smallest amount of market share possible.
You might think I should stop my ranting, companies like the Warehouse for example, have always sold skateboards, how is this different? The average skateboard on the Warehouse website costs $25 and in the description tells you the weight limit (60kg). One should know they are buying a toy. And if you are just buying a toy, then cheap Warehouse board all the way. At Rebel Sport the skateboards cost $150 and are described as "...the perfect set-up for the skatepark..." At Number One Shoes the boards are $119 and the description begins “From beginners to pros, adults to kids…” If you don’t know skateboards you might think that’s all good. Maybe it is good, I’m not here to review skateboards, I’m here to tell you why you need to support local skate specific stores more.
Again, you might think that it’s not a big deal because it’s only a few options of completes, but perhaps Rebel Sport or Number One Shoes’ foray into skateboards goes really well and they decide to start stocking decks, trucks and wheels. Are they going to train their staff so they can advise on the best equipment for the different styles? Or on how to grip a board? Picture this, a 10-year-old child and their parent buying a skateboard and the child is super excited and talking about how they live on a hill and can’t wait to get home and bomb it. A Number One Shoes salesperson probably smiles and thinks ‘that’s cute’ and offers no advice. The Salesperson at a local skater owned-and-operated shop may offer to tighten up the trucks, give the kid some tips and also suggest the appropriate safety gear to the parent. You can’t “train" this knowledge into generic shop staff. With core skate shops come staff that skate; staff that have known the feeling of bombing your first hill, making your first drop in, landing your first kickflip, and they actually want to pass on that stoke to this child.
Knowledge aside, who’s giving back to skateboarding? When you hand over your hard-earned money, think about what else you're getting beside skate gear. Does this business have sponsored riders? Does this business support local competitions and other skateboarding events? Does this business employ skateboarders, giving members of our community jobs? The more you spend at skater owned-and-operated stores, the more money these stores have to give back to skateboarding. If you think this doesn’t apply to you because you already shop at your local, this isn’t enough anymore. If you care about skateboarding then it’s in all our interests to protect the reputation and progression of it in Aotearoa. We need to reach those skaters who haven’t even started yet, who are looking at their first board, who are looking at getting the first board for their kid. We need to make sure they get the right set-ups and advice from someone who knows what they are talking about from the get go. Spread the word now to your friends and family that if anyone is thinking about getting a skateboard for the first time, they are welcome to message you for advice so you can point them in the right direction.
At the end of last year my nephew was turning 5, it was time (IMO) he ditched the scooter and got a skateboard. I could have just bought one and sent it to him, but I waited until he flew down to Ōtautahi so I could take him in to choose his own. Because getting your first skateboard should be a goddamn magical experience and I wanted him to feel it; looking at all the decks on the wall, marvelling at the shapes, artwork and brand styles, examining all the trucks and wheels under the counter, flipping through the sticker books... you just don’t get these memories from a generic chain store with a token skateboard rack.
To use the now infamous quote from Tony Hawk when asked about skateboarding in the Olympics “They need us more than we need them”. We don’t need stores that aren’t giving back to skateboarding. We don’t need them at all. But local skater owned-and-operated stores need us. Where you spend your hard earned cash matters. Support skate shops, support skateboarding.
(Pictured below is my nephew Hugo, getting his first skateboard at Embassy in Ōtautahi)
The fourth Welly Ramp Riot happened over the weekend, and to be honest, with the Wellington weather being notoriously fickle, we were surprised it took four years before the organisers had to contend with rain. And rain it did, giving a two-hour delay and throwing doubt on whether the competition would happen. Although the sun never made it out, the rain did stop long enough for the competition to go ahead, so massive thanks to the Wellington Skateboarding Association for having faith and continuing when it would have been so easy to just pack up and go home.
What really stood out about this Welly Ramp Riot, was the groms. We met two ten-year-olds we had never seen skate before, who absolutely killed it - Scarlett from Te Puke and Aaliyah from Napier. Scarlett wowed the judges and went home with second place in the women’s mini. Aaliyah entered the vert opens and dropped in first try, despite never skating a vert before. Zeyden from Wanaka (14) won the under 16 mini and then took out first place in the open vert. And although Myles from Wellington (16) isn’t technically a grom anymore, he deserves a special mention. He was the under 16 winner in 2020, but had to step it up to compete with the men this year. Myles came away with a hard-earned second place on the mini.
Women's Mini Ramp Under 16 Mini Ramp
Men's Mini Ramp Vert Opens
|MEN'S OPEN||WOMEN'S OPEN|
|1. Zedyn Fellows (Wānaka)||1. Krysta Ashwell (Canterbury)|
|2. Niwa Shewry (Taranaki)||2. Holly Reynolds (Canterbury)|
|3. Kyle Monaghan (Canterbury)||3. Evelyn Armstrong (Wānaka)|
|4. Beau Hanson (Canterbury)||4. Lucie Malpot (Nelson)|
|5. Isaiah Thornton (Canterbury)||5. Tegen Bishop (Canterbury)|
|6. Kerehama Milroy (Canterbury)||6. Poppy Epicc (Canterbury)|
|16 AND UNDER||MASTERS|
|1. Lochie Barrie (Canterbury)||1. Von Griffin (Manawatū)|
|2. Flea Griffin (Manawatū)||2. Brendan Mulder (North Canterbury)|
|3. Dylan Dempsey (Canterbury)||3. Raph Doidge (Canterbury)|
|4. Winton Ansley (Canterbury)|
|5. Max GD (Canterbury)|
|6. Connor O'Leary (Canterbury)|
When we first started hosting the Thomson Park Bowl Jam in 2018, we didn’t just want to throw a competition, we wanted to cultivate a sense of community and camaraderie for the skaters. This was the driving force behind the creation of the Hangover Classic. It was a way for skaters from out of town to meet the local Christchurch crew, get an idea on what the different scenes were like around Aotearoa, form new friendships, and of course to dust off the Hangovers from the night before.
The Hangover Classic is a low-key miniramp competition at Yeah Gnar HQ, followed by a BBQ. Originally this was an adults only event, however with all the uncertainties of skate events this season with Covid restrictions, we decided to open it up to some Groms this year if accompanied by a parent.
There is cash for the top 5, however what everyone is really doing it for is to have their name on the coveted Hangover Classic trophy next to previous winners, Stefan Robin and Tom Mitchell. This makes the intensity grow throughout the jam until the snaking gets real and somebody inevitably tries the roof drop in. We had a lot of firsts this year - it was the first time we had a parent/child team enter with Griff and Flea from Palmerston North. Made especially awesome when 12 year old Flea kicked his Dad out of contention in the semis. We had our first best trick with Duckewe donating a deck, which went to Zedyn Fellows for a boneless off the roof - an NBD at Yeah Gnar HQ! And our first Under 16 winner, with the trophy going home with Niwa Shewry to Taranaki.
It was a great way to finish off an amazing weekend. Thank you to everyone who came along and supported us, we hope we can do it again next year! If you want to see some of the action, there is some footage on our YouTube channel
1st - Niwa Shewry (Oakura)
2nd - Luke Child (Christchurch)
3rd - Willy Bartlett (Dorset)
4th - Flea Griffin (Palmerston North)
5th - Troy Newton (Christchurch)
Duckewe Best Trick - Zedyn Fellows (Wānaka)
The New Zealand skateboarding competition season has well and truly kicked off, following the success of last weekends Kerikeri Vert Jam.
This was the second year the competition has been hosted by the legendary Dave Crabb and one of the most exciting things about it was being able to see the progression the skaters have made from last years jam, particularly in the Groms and Women's divisions.
Skaters came from as far Kaeo in the North and Wanaka in the South, and the age difference between the youngest and oldest was 40 odd years, so this really was an event for everyone.
We were particularly proud of team member Krysta, who broke her leg on the Kerikeri ramp in warm up for last years competition. Krysta faced her fears head on and skated into first place in the women's division.
You can watch some of the epic skating that went down on the link below. https://www.facebook.com/getaheadmedia/videos/773949069714130/
It was our absolute honour and privilege to have been invited to attend the New Zealand National Vert competition in Wanaka this year.
Not only is the Wanaka vert a thing of beauty to behold, the scenic view of the mountains from the deck of this gnarly beast is arguably one of the most beautiful views from a skate spot in the world.
The event was put together by the Wanaka Community in a display of what it truly means to be part of small town New Zealand, with a very special thank you going to the Fellows whanau who opened up their home to the New Zealand skateboarding community.
When we heard that there would be camping next to the vert, Yeah Gnar NZ hired a motor-home and headed south with team member Raph, who was to spend the day with the difficult job of judging the competition. Krysta, who had the difficult job of skating in the competition. And a gaggle of supporters who had the easy job of cheering from the sidelines.
We could not have been more proud of our skater Krysta, who was skating vert for the first time since she broke her leg in the warm ups at the Kerikeri Vert competition at the end of last year. She overcame her fears and skated like a boss, coming away with second place, with the winner of the national title going to Rhya Henare of Taupo.
There is a lot of history behind the Wanaka ramp, which you can watch about in the short film "Fourteen Foot Journey" on Amazon. Check out the trailer below!
Yeah Gnar NZ was proud to be a major sponsor again this year for Bowlzilla, the national park skating competition in Wellington, and we were all really excited about the competition this year.
We took up two of our skaters - Krysta who was only a month back skating from a major injury, and Tylre who was competing in his first ever nationals. Plus after the nail-biting finals of Mangawhai, we knew the national title for all divisions was going to be hard won. I
f you have ever spent time in Wellington, you will know that the weather forecast is never completely reliable. Unfortunately it rained, but with the determination of the Bowlzilla crew, constantly drying out the bowl with leaf blowers and bags of towels, they managed to get the Men's open division done in the bowl.
Despite the rain delays, everybody was amping and didn't want to see the skating end which is when Wellington based skateboarding-themed art gallery, Manky Chops, stepped up and kept the skating going. They offered up their gallery, which conveniently has a mini ramp inside, to finish the competition for the Masters, Womens and under 16. And just like that, the New Zealand skate community showed how versatile we are and Bowlzilla became Minizilla! The crowd loved the fact they were out of the rain and the skaters had pent up energy from the rain delays and were ready to throw down.
Between the sweat from the skaters and the rain from outside, the humidity inside Manky Chops HQ was off the charts, but everyone was just thankful the weather hadn't put an end to the epic skating. Full results of the day can be found on the Bowlzilla website https://www.bowlzilla.net/
Despite the Mangawhai Bowl Jam being known as one of the best competitions in New Zealand, not one of our Canterbury based team had ever made the journey - which meant we were frothing with excitement about getting up there for this epic event.
Due to injury, we only had one Yeah Gnar skater, Tylre, entering this competition, but as always we took a crew to support and learn from one of the New Zealand's longest running skateboarding competitions. I know we say this every competition we go to - but seriously, this event was simply the best and lived up to the hype! They had the best bowl skaters in New Zealand throwing down, and the Mangawhai bowl....arguably the best pool styled bowl in the entire country.
It was a hot day, which was OK because the township of Mangawhai has a beautiful estuary you can swim in and cool down. We don't know what took us so long to finally check out this competition, but we can assure you, we are hooked and will be there loyally every year from here on out! And if you are reading this and have never been, just check out the highlights below.
If that level of skating doesn't make you want to be there, we don't know what will!
Having never been to the surfing haven that is Oakura, Taranaki, we thought we may as well take the journey and check it out. At first we found it really challenging to find accommodation for the Yeah Gnar team and couldn't figure out why.
Apparently the band Toto were playing in New Plymouth the same weekend, which somehow turned into "Africa" being the theme song of that road trip. We showed up in Oakura not knowing what to expect having never been there or seen many Taranaki skaters in action. First of all, their seaside skate-park is a dream. A mini-ramp that has a tranny to die for and the bowl...the bowl is so smooth and has lines for days. We finally got to see local Niwa Shewry for the first time ever, and seriously, if you don't know this young man you need to follow him on instragram @niwaskates now. The skater and spectator turn out was massive, and the Yeah Gnar team joined forces with the Henare whanau to run the groms competition, before the Taranaki Skateboarding Association took over for the opens. We were left in awe at the depth of talent in the Taranaki skateboarding scene and can't wait to go back! A special shout out to the Oakura Boardriders Club for putting on an epic event. They have been supporting surfing and skating in Oakura since way back, and you can find more information about them on their Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/OakuraBoardriders/
When we heard there was going to be a Vert competition, our team unanimously decided we had to get on board with that. You hear the saying "Vert is Dead" a lot in skateboarding circles, but our belief is that no form of skateboarding is dead if there are people still passionate about it.
And that is how we became sponsors of Kerikeri's First Annual Vert Jam. Only three of our team ventured up for this one, mainly because being South Island based, we had heard horror stories about the humidity that happens that far North.
Not knowing what to expect from the ramp, or Kerikeri itself, we cautiously ventured out the day before the competition for a skate, where we found the best Vert skaters in New Zealand warming up and ready to throw down.
Unfortunately on the day, Yeah Gnar skater Krysta, broke her leg in two places which took her out of contention for the win. However, she did make it back for the finals and despite being on crutches was cheering for the boys louder then anyone. It was a beautiful day, with beautiful people, and we feel like nobody will be saying vert is dead after this competition.
In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if this has sparked a resurgence of more vert competition to come. A special thanks to Dave Crabb, a total legend of New Zealand skateboarding, who put this competition on for both the skateboarding, and Kerikeri community. If you would like to check out a small snippet of the calibre of skating at the competition you can on the link below; https://www.facebook.com/DaRollwilder/videos/vb.1004341034/10214265325999439/?type=3