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The story behind Drop-In Surf and Skate Camp

You can feel the good vibes from the start. Mac Messenschmidt, 43 years, caught some morning waves at Praia do Areal, in Portugal’s west region, before meeting up with us.

Life is to be lived and this german entrepreneur brought his mantra into business, providing a unique surf and skate experience to his guests. From Berlin to Lourinhã: The story behind Drop-In Surf and Skate Camp

Could you describe the concept behind Drop in surf and skate camp?

Altogether we have three houses, but we don’t allow more than 20 people to stay at the same time. They all take part of the experience as a single group and we treat our guests like family.

You take people to surf and skate and people can roll at Drop-In as well?

Yes. Most people want to surf, but skate has turned into a good part of our experience. We have a bowl and a mini ramp and that's not usual around here. Thanks to my son, skate is rising at my place. He’s nine years old (we also have a daughter who’s 11) and he is almost better than me [he laughs]. When it’s flat, we take our guests to skateparks in Lisbon, specially the one in Campolide [aka Bairro da Liberdade skatepark]. Recently we did a skate camp and it was a success, people loved it. Although someone broke a foot, but that comes with the job…

How and when did you start this adventure?

It was after my previous business went down. A bit before my thirties we created a clothing brand, called Fourasses (for Surf, Snow, Skate and Sex). Things exploded and, before we knew it, we also had a skate shop in Berlin. At some point we needed an investor to keep up our growth. That's when things started going wrong, and in 2006 the business was a disaster. I had to sell everything and pay back debts.

That was quite a shock, I believe. And then you went to Portugal.

Yeah, before our kids were born, fortunately. My wife and I always wanted to buy a house in Portugal, even when we were living in Berlin. We went there in 2007 and 2008. We looked at many surf spots, from North to South, but this region was always one of our favourites. So we decided to settle down in Lourinha and it didn't take long before we had our first house and that was the beginning of Drop-In.

Where do your guests mainly come from?

Old school man... When I closed FourAsses I had a lot of friends in the skate world in Berlin. Before I knew it the place was full of Germans who came to visit me.They create the buzz and that’s why I usually work only with german speaking guests. I don’t need to put Drop-In on Booking or other platforms. Since day one guests have been spreading the word. And they return. 15 years have passed and people who go back to Germany say ‘Vacations? Go to Mac’. People who come here are also educated, cool, and local economy likes them.

Did any former guest turn into a good rider or surfer after receiving the Drop in ‘baptism’?

Many of my employees are actually former guests who want to come and work here for a while, the same with several surf and skate teachers who work here. I’m not really a boss. We are one big family here.

Describe living in Lourinhã?

This village is definitely different than Berlin. I was used to living in a crazy city with a lot of parties and in the beginning we did have to adapt a bit to the rhythm of Lourinhã. This village offers you a different way of living. When I go to a local market, I must save half an hour extra because I know I will bump into people that want to talk a bit. It was weird at first, but now I like it. We have this slogan in our house: ‘There are good times and then there are good times’. We always must take the best of everything. Even if it’s shit.

Visit Drop-In Visit Lourinhã Skatepark

By Manu Silva

How Troubl3 Keeps Making Trouble with Skateboards

June 29 2022 - Interview with Troubl3  “I always have been a troublemaker”. If Andrew, 41, had to pitch his idea, this could be a good punchline. It’s one of those cases where a business’s name is not just marketing, but a character’s extension. "So, Troubl3 is giving the middle finger to a lot of skate shops that do not support local people." Andrew (Owner Troubl3)   VISIT WEBSITE TROUBL3 is a Canadian skateboard shop based in Otawa. It was born in 2018 from the desire to go against the flow. “Skateboarding industry has become a mass production machine. Everything comes from China or Mexico, where people are not paid right. I buy something for one hundred dollars that really costs ten dollars”, he claims. “Then I thought: if I’m going to be a troublemaker, I might do something different. If I’m making a board it’s got to be unique like any skater is. I’m going to make one by one; it’s going to be tougher, it’s going to last more, every single board is going to be different. When you buy, it’s not just a board, it’s a piece of art and an experience”, he adds. This is something “one hundred percent customized”, from size, shape, wheels base, and a “seven veneer deck”. He proudly details: “Each veneer that goes into each deck is hand picked.” He buys local (wood from Quebec, for instance) in small batches, presses, shapes and hand paints the decks himself also, when he can, he promotes local artists to draw on the skateboards. “So, Troubl3 is giving the middle finger to a lot of skate shops that do not support local people who make stuff. They say they are local, but do not buy local”, Andrew reenforces, protesting against the rules of the game. “I always compare skateboards with pizza. I love pizza: a large one costs 50 bucks, the same you pay for a skateboard sometimes. Those skateboards are made overseas, they cost nothing to make, the price of pizza is gone to double, but the price of skateboards stayed the same for 30 years." “I evoke Paul Schmitt’s case all the time: a big name in this industry who shifted his business from California to Tijuana because people want to keep the price of a skateboard at 50 of 60 dollars for eternity. So, to keep his business going and pay his people, he had to move”, Andrew says.   He likes to be different. “Being marginalized is something good in skateboarding”. Although he admits the way he runs business is not sustainable: “The breakeven would be making 250 skateboards a month. Right now, I have had a month when I made four or five, others one or two.” It doesn’t matter. He believes this is the way. And he gives a discount if people really ride them and not just hang his skateboards on the wall. Authenticity is his brand, like the style he prefers for riders: “I like to see the most unorthodox skater. Do you do treflips? Fantastic, so can any other kid. I don’t care, throw your board against the wall, flip it on your head, do a back flip, do something I want to see. It’s different, do skateboarding and not do what others do.” “There’s a kid in Indonesia I started to follow who's skateboarding reminds me of a young Christian Hosoi. When I see the kid skate I can recognize Christian Hosoi’s influence. Can you recognize the inventors of other tricks you see people do at the park?”, he asks. Andrew sponsors five “troublemakers”: Eric Martin (Ontario), Dustin Lawrence (Ontario), Connor Callan aka Meat Feet (Arizona), Luis Uribe (Texas), Shinichi Nichiyama (Japan). He enjoys watching them and supports them the way he can. About his local skateparks, Andrew recommends: Bob MacQuarrie skatepark in Otawa Joel Gauthier skatepark in Rockland Local bus stop where where it's super smooth and is perfect for slappies, now that people stopped using busses, due to Covid, it's always empty and available.

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São Pedro do Sul skatepark tour in Portugal

Park nr 36 on our mission to skate every skatepark in Portugal is São Pedro do Sul Skatepark near Viseu.First of all I would like to say thanks to Wasteland skateparks and Gochill for supporting our latest roadtrip on our mission to film/skate every skatepark in Portugal. This time we decided to head up north and visit six skateparks build by the Portuguese builders Wasteland skateparks. Our first stop? São Pedro do Sul, a charming municipality nestled in the Central Portuguese district of Viseu, boasting a population of 5,728 inhabitants. Stretching across 14 picturesque parishes within an expansive 350 km² area, São Pedro do Sul is a part of the enchanting territory known as Montanhas Mágicas. While the region is renowned for its therapeutic thermal baths, it holds another treasure—a skatepark waiting to be explored. The skatepark in São Pedro do Sul is also definitely worth a visit. It's a fun park to cruise around and learn some new tricks. The mellow snake run provides different heights, so basically it's the perfect training ground to unlock new transition tricks that you've got on your bucket list of tricks. Looking for a place to stay check out the Pousadas de Juventude de Portugal in São Pedro do Sul. We really enjoyed our stay here and definitely recommend this pousada. The hotel is located in the middle of the historic center and everything is walking distance. Too bad we only stayed one night, because we could definitely chill here for a couple of days.

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