Jeff Divine Surf Skate Style



When did you first hear of SurfSkate style?

It was in the mid ‘70s, when Skateboarder came forth with the comparison and showed examples. I had taken a lot of photos of Larry Bertlemann that were published in Surfer and with Hal Jepson and others showing film of that low slung, arm pendulum, hand sweeping style Larry had. I later found out about the big influence that body language style had on the Dogtown boys. That was interesting because the media, film and print was put out to the public so infrequently compared to today, yet Bertlemann’s style had so much influence in surfing and skating. Word of mouth had a lot to do with our culture in those days. In 1976, Oahu, the long ditch starting at the base of the mountains just west of Honolulu was called Wallos. Tony Alva arrived with Bruce Logan and proceeded to surf/skate the long narrow walls of the ditch, nose riding up the wall, cross stepping down the wall, speed crouching at the height and standing up with Lopez hands in the transitions. That was the best display of surf/skate in its purest form that I had seen. Fast forward to a 1989, competition at Lower Trestles. I was sitting with a soccer mom whose kids and all their friends, about 8 in all, demanded she drive them down to see Christian Fletcher surf his heat. They were all skater kids. A crowd of them from all over had gathered to see him. As the heat started, Christian’s first wave was a left out the back that he pulled a long air on and landed it. The crowd of 5,000 roared and a large crowd of skater kids got up and ran up to the lefts for a front row view of Christian’s skate/surf moves. Christian was the first modern day surfer to meld in a creative way the two sports. It wasn’t as if you had to be told the term. If you were involved with either sport, you witnessed it on a daily basis. We lived it.

What does SurfSkate style mean to you?

In my era, when we started to take skates apart and reconfigure them onto boards, we were all surfers. As we rode up and down the neighbor’s driveway and sidewalks, we would mimic the same body language we aspired to use on a surfboard. We were still learning how to surf, develop style and become competent to avoid being a “kook” and therefore harassed by the older guys. Being chased up a palm, duck taped to a palm, having a car window rolled up onto your neck holding your head into position for a while and being an on-demand errand-boy were typical. Skating helped refine your style and at speed body language, which then helped make you more respected in the surf.

Who has the best SurfSkate style?

In the ‘70s, there was a mafia/Teamsters fund built resort called La Costa in north San Diego. There was a large area of newly asphalted streets, with curbs, curb cuts, light poles and drainage, but no houses. One of the runs that paralleled the golf course was a long, straight, 400-foot run of pristine asphalt called Heroin Hill. My first time there I couldn’t believe the set up. No one was wearing helmets, knee protection, etc. A short, curly-haired guy with obvious skills went flying by me hanging ten with the tail up in the air, gaining a lot of speed and holding the pose with micro adjustments all the way down the run. It was Bruce Logan. I’ll start and end with that nomination.

How has surfing influenced skateboarding and vice versa?

I would say that the surfing influence might have been stronger in certain eras. The architecture of public schools throughout southern California included steep, smooth manicured concrete hills that looked like way overhead waves that lined the public spaces, playgrounds, etc. This architectural element most likely had an influence of looking like you were surfing the concrete wave. When skating became more of a physical acrobatic challenge of riding ramps, it became something else. When everything evolved back to the streets, curb jumps and handrail riding, it was another skill set. It seems today that it is back to the surf feel of long runs and concrete waves at the skate parks. From riding the ocean to the concrete/asphalt to the mountain has all become one, with a co-influence from all three skills.

Jeff Divine flows through Wallos in 1975. Photo © Divine Collection


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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