Rob Nelson Surf Skate Style



When did you first hear of SurfSkate style?

It all started in the streets, sidewalk surfing, when the waves were flat or blown out. For me, it was 1977. I grew up in the coastal area of Maryland, and the two parks that shaped it all for any Eastern Shore ripper would have to be the original Ocean Bowl in Ocean City, MD, and the original Salisbury, MD park. Both were created with the intentions of stopping the skateboarders on the sidewalks. It’s still illegal to this day in OCMD to skate on the boardwalk or sidewalk. My first trip to Salisbury park was courtesy of my dad, I was seven years old and he bought me a plastic double kick “penny style board” from Nichols one night on his way home from work. Next thing I know, I’m staring down at this asphalt snake run monster getting yelled at to just go! After getting the speed wobbles and eating total shit, then getting ridiculously laughed at by the dudes up at the top on the “expert” banks, I sat back and watched the action. Up at the top, already honed at carving the bowl at Ocean City further out on the beach, was the likes of the Marlowe Brothers, Pat Truitt, Marc Emond and many locals. Those dudes held it down surf/skate style in Maryland. Still to this day. It was then downloaded into my hard drive: I’ll be back, and I will emulate those dudes, because they were having a blast!

What does SurfSkate style mean to you?

There’s another theory in skateboarding that the skateboard is derived from the handlebars being      broken, or removed intentionally, off of a scooter. I could see that at some level in certain areas, and, at that level, that style of evolution creates its own style. I’m in the ‘bored surfer takes the wheels off his sister’s roller skates, and nails them to a 2×4 camp’. Don’t get me wrong, all types of skateboarding appeal to me. I’m a fan of skateboarding, period, but there is something that stands out about the natural flow of feeling out the curves, the speed, and the understanding of what is being ridden. There doesn’t even have to be difficult tricks going down. If the rider dropped in, cruised it, found some speed, threw some arches, some grinds, and kicked out with style and a smile, that’s SurfSkate style.

Who has the best SurfSkate style?

It starts with Marc Emond! True original  East Coast Surf/Skate Style. He is now a retired city worker for Ocean City, from working an entire career skating and managing the OCMD Bowl. (That may be a first in skateboarding). Watching him skate as a kid completely sealed the deal for me. Surf and skate for life. Here’s the rest of my list: Jay Adams, Shogo Kubo, Tony Alva, Duane Peters, Christian Hosoi, Ron Wharton, John “Dirty” Saville, Mikey Weeks, Joe Ward, Aaron Levinthal, Jaime Stapula, Scott Greene, Chet Childress, Pat Truitt, Bob Umble, Trey Winslow (would never surf without jeans on) and Bobby Lake. New skaters, of course, Curren Caples and Greyson Fletcher and Rowan Zorilla. Rowan probably doesn’t even surf, but his style lends to that relaxed assault. That dude has good style.

How has surfing influenced skateboarding and how has skateboarding influenced surfing?

Surfing has surely influenced every single aspect of riding banks, pools and general jamming down the street. Skating has done a lot for surfing when boards got smaller and the game got above the lip. Things like grabs, rotations, and lip tricks. It must be said; “Surfers need to learn to count their rotations.” Haha!

Is SurfSkate style important today?

It’s important if you’re looking for aesthetics. It matters when I’m rolling. I’ll always skate like I surf. Add some power and a good style and you have some good skateboarding. Does it matter in competition? Does Nyjah surf his way to $100,000 in Street League? Not really. In no way am I saying that it’s not skateboarding. It’s incredible! I have a feeling that every technical skateboarder eventually loosens their trucks at some point. Loose trucks save lives!

Rob Nelson takes it above 9 o’clock at a nighttime pipe session. Photo © Willy Sions


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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