Norton Wisdom Surf Skate Style



When did you first hear of SurfSkate style?

I don’t remember, but I intuitively knew that skateboarding was the key to unlocking great surfing. To be a great surfer, skateboarding had to be part of it. There just wasn’t enough time on the waves to strengthen your ability. I recognized that from the beginning. Skateboarding offered you a chance of doing what you wanted to do on a wave. My focus was on surfing, but I knew that skateboarding was something that was essential to being a great surfer. I think skateboarding was a major tool in performing on a wave. Most waves only last five or ten seconds, in comparison to a skateboard, where you’re on there until you get off, so you really get to develop and understand the centrifugal force and the energy coefficients and properties of physics, which make both surfing and skateboarding such beautiful sports. It’s the centrifugal force that’s transferred into speed and energy. Both of them are related primarily by the laws of physics. I got into the sport of paragliding and I  always thought that the point of that was accelerating into a turn. That’s how I understood what the thrill was in any performance. I imagine that’s what turns people on to things like motocross. When you accelerate into a turn, it changes everything. What a rush! When you decelerate through a turn, you lose the dynamics of the entire experience and it defeats the purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish. In paragliding, I would do that and people would freak out and say, “What the fuck are you doing?” I would say, “Well, it’s not a sport if you don’t use the straight laws of physics. You’d die. In paragliding, it doesn’t work because you lose the foil of your wing. The whole system falls apart and you fall and die.” The reason that most people are drawn to that acceleration in sports is because of those compression turns and accelerating into a turn and using the laws of physics to achieve something greater than just a good line. It’s not just a clean line, but an acceleration. When the twin fin came into surfing, in the late ‘70s, it changed the entire structure of what was possible in surfing. It happened in concert with what was going on in skateboarding, around the same time that people were innovating and using compression turns. It made the objectives and dynamics of skateboarding and surfing the same. Around the same time, the guys were really starting to shred on skateboards. The innovations seemed to go hand in hand, in both surfing and skateboarding, as people explored what was possible. With surfing, all of a sudden, with the introduction of the twin fin, goofy footers stepped to the forefront of the surfing world. All of a sudden, the goofy footers started winning all the contests. Goofy footers could come up the top of a wave and press a turn right back into the curl or into the vortex of the energy of the wave. The goofy footers were facing the curl instead of having their back to it. They could use the dynamic of the compression turn to re-engage themselves back into the eye of the beast. This was happening at the same time that skateboarding was becoming more than just a means of transportation. Innovations were being made with urethane wheels and the technology of the trucks. Being a lifeguard in Topanga, in the ‘70s, I saw that Topanga was one of many skateboarders connections to the ocean. Guys like Danny Bearer, Davey Hilton and George Trafton were all Topanga kids. That’s where they surfed. The twin fin totally changed the dynamic of surfing. With a single fin, if you’re a goofy foot, if you have to do an off the lip, you really can’t do it on a single fin because your back is to the wave. You don’t have equipment that allows that. The minute you have a twin fin, it changes the radius of your turn. It gives you the ability to cut back into the eye of the storm, into the tube. The dynamics of skateboarding and surfing were very parallel. In my relationship with skateboarding, I saw the same kind of progression happening with the compression turn and the ability to use the centrifugal force as a dynamic energy propellant. It also carried over into skiing and snowboarding. The camber in skis was being progressed because of snowboarding, because the camber in a snowboard allowed you to do compression terms. The centrifugal force became the dynamo behind what was happening in skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding.

In skateboarding and surfing, the devil is In The details! This culture inspires art and style with no limitations. Just let it roll baby roll! Artwork © Norton Wisdom


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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