James O’Mahoney Surf Skate Style



When did you first hear of SurfSkate style?

In the ‘50s, we emulated surfing on our steel-wheeled junkers with basic surfing body positions. In the late ‘50s, skateboards started to be shaped like surfboards, so we made skateboards in wood shop with better wheels and trucks. You could now walk the board and turn hard. Ten years later, the term surf skate style was officially documented on ABC TV in 1965 at the first National Skateboard Championships in Anaheim, with Steve and Dave Hilton, Torger Johnson, Danny Bearer, Skip Frye and Woody Woodworth, hanging 5’s, 10’s, bottom turns, wheelies and the first 360s. The term was again stated in 1975, at the second Skateboard Nationals in Del Mar when the Z-Boys came to do their routines. They were doing traditional surf body moves and current skate moves. This was the beginning of the end for the original pairing. What won the Del Mar Nationals was a professional routine of ice skating spins, wheelies, tic tacs, walk the dog, kickflips, handstands and Karate moves, with no mistakes. Skateboarding was evolving into its own sport with its own moves and tricks.

What does SurfSkate style mean to you and who has the best surf skate style?

To me, I was fortunate to grow up and compete in both sports while they grew. Surfing was the sport and skating was what you did when there was no surf and, when you skated, you did surf moves. When surfboards got easier to maneuver, and the rider started to move around the board, ride the nose and cut back, the term was “hot dogging”. When skateboarders emulated the same moves, the term was “sidewalk surfing”. This lasted for years. Herbie Fletcher, Christian Fletcher, Nathan Fletcher, Phil Edwards, Mickey Munoz, Mickey Dora, John John Florence, Buttons, Dewey Weber, Mike Hynson, JoJo Perrin, Josh Farberow, C.R. Stecyk III, Jamie Brisick, Jeff Ho, Jay Adams, all the Z’s, and most all of the ‘60s and ‘70s skaters had good surf skate style.

How has surfing influenced skateboarding, and skateboarding influenced surfing?

They go hand in hand, it started as SurfSkate and now it’s skatesurf. In the early ‘80s, Christian Fletcher called me from the Pipe House and said, “Jimmy, when the trades come in across the face of the wave, I boost and get sideways to the wave like a wing and I can actually fly.” I said, “Yeah, man, so what do you call that move?” CF said, “Stalefish”. The list grew. In 1989. Christian won the Trestles pro contest with more air time than wave time. He won, but was scorned by the supposed elites of the sport who said that it was skateboarding not surfing. DUH… Now air is a required move for any pro. When I was putting together the Skateboard Handbook in 1975, I made the SurfSkate board, a Kanoa Skateboard doweled into a surfboard. We took it to Royal Palms in San Pedro to get the photo, a literal marriage of the sports. Russ Howell tried 20 waves worth, but the SurfSkate was too tough. Surfer, Dwane Forester, who was a better surfer than skater, finally was able to get up on the skateboard /surfboard and we got the shot.

Is SurfSkate style important today?

SurfSkate style will always be there and skate/surf style and snowboard/surf/skate style. In any sport where the rider is on top of a board, the bodies will respond the same. It is up to the rider to make his own personal style statement, and, historically, SurfSkate was first.

O’Mahoney style at the Santa Barbara Skatepark. Photo: Scott Starr


The influence of surfing on skateboarding has been discussed since the beginning of both, yet we have now entered a new era, where skateboarding has returned the favor with its own unique influence on the surfing world. In order to get to the core of this cross over and to try to define the origins and current state and status of surf skate style, we’ve interviewed some of the most innovative skateboarders, surfers, artists, documentarians, photographers, filmmakers and musicians on the planet. In honor of the great, Shogo Kubo, who once said, “To me, style is everything…” welcome to our exploration of Surf Skate Style featuring interviews with Aaron Murray, Aaron Astorga, Abraham Paskowitz, Art Brewer, Bennett Harada, Brad Bowman, Brandon Cruz, Brian Brannon, Carter Slade, Chris Miller, Chris Strople, Christian Fletcher, Christian Hosoi, Craig Stecyk III, Darren Ho, Dave Tourje, David Hackett, Dennis Martinez, Dibi Fletcher, Don Redondo, Eric Britton, Garrett McNamara, Gerry Lopez, Glen E. Friedman, Greg Falk, Greg Galbraith, Greyson Fletcher, Herbie Fletcher, James O’Mahoney, Jef Hartsel, Jeff Ament, Jeff Divine, Jeff Ho, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Gray, John Van Hamersveld, Jonathan Paskowitz, Josh “Bagel” Klassman, Kalani David, Keith Morris, Kirra Kehoe, Larry Bertlemann, Laura Thornhill, Lizzie Armanto, Marc Emond, Michael Denicola, Michael Early, Nano Nobrega, Nathan Fletcher, Nathan Florence, Neil Stratton, Norton Wisdom, Pat Bareis, Randy Katen, Ray Flores, Rob Nelson, Robert Trujillo, Scott Oster, Shane Allen, Shaun Tomson, Shota Kubo, Solo Scott, Stacy Peralta, Steve Alba, Steve Olson, Takuji Masuda, Terry Nails, Tim Curran, Tim Hendricks, Tim Kerr, Tom Groholski, Tony Alva, Wes Humpston and Zach Miller.


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