SURF SKATE STYLE WITH JEFF HO. INTERVIEW BY JUICE MAGAZINE. PHOTO BY JON STEELE.
When did you first hear of SurfSkate style?
SurfSkate style was invented back in the late ‘50s. It was deemed sidewalk surfing. It’s a style of skating, like surfing. I first heard the words SurfSkate style in the era of the first Gidget movie. We were sidewalk surfing on concrete, being surfers on land, and then the Hobie team came later. They called it SurfSkate style in a Jamie Budge movie. Later, I heard it in movies like Ride The Wild Surf and The Endless Summer. The Hiltons were in the surf movies and Grant Rohloff put skateboarding in his surf movies too. What do you do in the morning, when you wake up and it’s victory at sea and all stormy? You whip out the skateboard and go sidewalk surfing. As a kid, we were skating the banks at Mar Vista school in the ‘60s, on clay wheels and then took the bus to Paul Revere, bombing hills on fresh blacktop. Later, the Z-Boys learned about Bertlemann and big bottom turns at Bay St. In ‘74 and ‘75, the first Skateboarder magazine documented SurfSkate style with Stecyk’s articles and Warren Bolster’s photos. At the beginning of the Zephyr skate team, slalom, cross country and freestyle were part of skate contests. For the freestyle, I told the kids, “You are surfing the flat. There is no way around this. Try to emulate surfing on the flat.” They did not want to skate the flat ground. Every week, I said, “You need to have five tricks before we go to the contest and you have to be able to connect these five tricks.” To keep them focused was gnarly, and then Jay learned the Bert around the cones and history was made.
What does SurfSkate style mean to you and who has the best surf skate style?
SurfSkate style is the flow and ease of movement and grace and connecting of maneuvers in one long line. Once you master it, it’s beyond belief. It is its own sensation. That’s why I do it, to get that feeling. You can do things on a skateboard that you can’t do on a surfboard, but surfing and skateboarding are symbiotic. You can get on a skateboard and push it down the street and do carving turns as if you were surfing the asphalt. When you skate down an incline, you find yourself starting that motion of carving, like you’re on a wave. That’s SurfSkate style. I have good SurfSkate style, but if I have to choose someone else, it would be a toss up between Tony Alva and Jay Adams. Bob Biniak had great flow and SurfSkate style too. Today, you see great SurfSkate style in Curren Caples, Shane Borland and Kalani David. The entire Fletcher family has great SurfSkate style. Greyson is now what I would call a super hybrid of surf and skate. Scott Oster brings incredible SurfSkate style to the coping as a skateboarder. Joel Tudor has great surfing style that he brought to skating. He surfs on his skateboard. Mickey Dora was “Da Cat” on a surfboard and a skateboard. He had the smoothest style. There were a lot of guys in the ‘60s that had style surfing and that influenced me when I was a young kid. David Nuuhiwa and Nat Young had a great style. When I was a kid, I would watch them in the surf movies. Wayne Miyata was also a great influence on my life.
How has surfing influenced skateboarding, and skateboarding influenced surfing?
Skateboarding started out as sidewalk surfing, but now it’s transitioned. Now surfing style is trying to emulate skateboarding style and tricks and maneuvers. That came with the evolution and design of surfboards and skateboards, and the technology that developed over the years. Through different periods of time, you will find that surfing was influencing skating and skating was influencing surfing. It’s gone back and forth, throughout the years, with the types of maneuvers that are possible on a surfboard and a skateboard. As we moved from the ‘50s to the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s, there have been strong influences on both surfing and skateboarding styles. Now surfing influences skating and skateboarding influences surfing.
Is SurfSkate style important today?
Yes. It’s something of beauty when you’re riding and all of the moves connect, and the sensation you get from the ride. Each person that rides a surfboard or a skateboard, when they connect those moves seamlessly and fluidly, there is an exhilarating high that goes on within the body and mind of the rider. In those split seconds before you actually do a move, and you’re anticipating it and going towards it, you see it and your body feels it. When you complete the maneuver, the rider gets this elation and a sensation of accomplishment. That’s the one thing that everybody that rides a board can understand. It’s so important to have style. Once you do a SurfSkate maneuver, there is a sense of accomplishment that each person can get from it. It’s not anybody else acknowledging them and saying, “You get a gold star!” Or about people judging their moves. Style is about the sense of self-accomplishment that each rider gets. That’s something that no one can ever take away from people that ride a board, and everyone that’s ever ridden a board knows that feeling. That’s what keeps everyone surfing and skateboarding. Once they get that feeling, you’re going to try for it again. It’s something that you can’t give somebody. Each person has to get it for themselves. Once you get that sensation, you’ll enjoy it and want to keep on doing it. That’s why SurfSkate style will always be important.
JUICE MAGAZINE SURF SKATE STYLE STORY:
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.