Wasteland - Skatepark Builder Interview

Interview with João Sales, Wasteland Skateparks. |  by Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira

A skater since the late 80s, João Sales grew up deeply rooted in the Portuguese skate scene. Check out what he has to tell us about DIY spots, how to get a skatepark built in your town, some of the cool parks he has built along the way, and a bunch of other stuff.

Let’s start from the beginning: When did you start skating?

I started in ’89, when I was thirteen. My next door neighbour had a board that had belonged to his cousin who didn’t use it anymore, so we both shared that same board. I loved the experience of riding it, so I convinced my mother to get me a board for christmas. From that point on it was just meeting new people, finding out what we had in common and following the skateboarding adventure. I still haven’t stopped.

And where was this?

In Leiria, I’m from Leiria.

I’m assuming that back then there would be nothing close to a skatepark around your area.

There were already some ramps around here. Some guys had already built a couple of ramps around the town. There was one in a neighbourhood kind of far away from my house that I didn’t even know of [until later] and there were these guys who lived next to a school who also had some small ramps. That’s where we started to get together and to get to know each other.

How about your first skatepark experience, where did you first find one?

Skatepark... I would say probably Pedrouços. Yeah, I’d say a proper skatepark, for the first time, Pedrouços. Though here in Leiria they eventually brought the mini ramp from the other neighbourhood over to a more central part of town, close to the city swimming pools, and the city council got a half-pipe built, so from that point on we had like a ramp compound. Let’s call it our skatepark, which was made up exclusively of quarterpipes and mini ramps. This was around 1990-91.

Maybe I should add that one of the things that influenced me the most was watching these older skaters who were so active. They got inspiration from what little skate scene there was in Portugal at the time - there was hardly any national coverage of skateboarding - but whatever they saw they brought back to Leiria and they would just get to work. That really inspired me and that was how I grew up.

That reminds me of something I had planned to ask you later on, but I might as well just ask you now: what tips would you give to someone who really wanted to get a skatepark built in his or her area? Should they go directly to city council, should they first talk to a skatepark builder and get a cost estimate, where do you start?

I’d say the first thing to do is to join efforts, to get a working team together. So if someone doesn’t have a skatepark in their city, the first thing is to find other people that share that same need. And then you try to look for people who may not be skaters or bmxers or whatever but who hold the same views, people who feel that the skatepark would be positive for their community and who are able to explain the benefits such a venue would bring to the community. Then, once you’ve put all this together, you try to reach the decision makers. It’s usually the city council, but it might be another entity, a private one for example. Then you ask for their help in assembling the conditions for building a skatepark and later, yeah, you can provide them with some skatepark specialists’ names for the building part. I mean, before that comes the designing part, because it’s important to understand exactly who you’re making a skatepark for before building it. We can’t build a skatepark like the one in Belmonte where there is no one in the community to ride that sort of thing.

Of course. Now, getting back on track and following what you were telling me about the ramps when you were a kid, how did you get into building skateparks and when was Wasteland Skateparks born?

That was a long process. We never stopped building things in Leiria. City council was barely helping at all. We knew there was this Powell-Peralta tour coming through Portugal, there would be a demo in Lisboa and one in Porto and a couple of days in between with nothing scheduled, so we convinced the council to build a half-pipe inside this pavillion to hold a demo. There we had quite a bit of support and help and we got the demo to happen. When the half-pipe was dismantled we planned to put it back together by the city pools, where we had all the mini ramps. Unfortunately someone stole our sheets of plywood and we never got past the structure. Then with no kind of warning the council just had everything destroyed overnight, even the mini ramps which were fine, so we were left with nothing to skate.

We didn’t really resign ourselves to that and we kept skating and building small ramps here and there, and eventually we got a chance to take the ramps into this pavillion and share it with other sports, like with a schedule and everything. From there we went to this other pavillion that had no walls, we had some help from Radical Skate Clube, who donated some ramps they didn’t use. From there we went to another one, owned by this local association, who took us in, and we founded Vidigal, which was the only indoor skatepark in Portugal at the time, in the early 2000s. We would build and mend ramps but eventually there was no one left to look over the venue and it was closed down.

We kept building ramps and by this time we were making them in concrete, I had learned how to mix concrete and we built like a jersey barrier. We built it in this dead end road where there was an abandoned construction site we knew would be there for some years. It was under a bridge, we used the barrier between the lanes and made a little cement run-up. We built some bumps and created an access to the inclined planes under the bridge so we kind of had our own little skatepark, far from everyone’s sight.

Then this Emerica Europe tour came by, with Ricardo Fonseca, Ed (Helder Lima), Pontus Alv and some others and they really liked skating our spot. Pontus Alv told me I had to watch their video because they were doing the same kind of thing in Sweden but already on a different scale, and I watched it, and that’s when I realized I could build skateparks with my own hands. All you had to do was get the community together and it could happen, and that’s when Cerâmica came about. It was an abandoned brick factory, and all that’s left standing is the kiln, which is lined with bricks and sand so all we needed was to buy the cement to mix everything and make concrete ramps. We built it on the weekends, among friends, and while we were doing it I lost my job - I had worked for sixteen years on car parts. Around that time came a call from Lisboa inviting us to build a bowl in Alvalade, which we did, still without any real expertise and kind of winging it. I did it with my friend Nuno Cainço who still works with me and who started skating with me in the early 90s.

I’d rather feel that someone is just skating, with no plan, and we’re being shown an excerpt of that, like the feeling you got from watching Tommy Guerrero skating street in the late 80s.

That spot, Cerâmica, can it still be skated?

Yes, to this day. It started around 2009. I still go there every now and then to fix some holes and roll around a bit. I might add that Cerâmica has been featured on the cover of a magazine and in various ads, even in American magazines.

Now, on to different things. There’s this idea that I find interesting when people talk about skateparks and that’s that there are some that “flow” better than others. If you had to try and explain this idea of a skatepark having a particular flow, what would you say?

It’s a tough question. It depends. I think skateparks are like street spots. It has to do with how you interpret that space. I’d say here in Portugal we may still have to get used to riding different types of skateparks in order to get to the level that we see elsewhere. Because one of the main things about skateboarding that was left behind for many years is knowing how to roll on a skateboard, not just doing tricks and lines, but adapting yourself to the terrain you’re on, whether it be a downhill street or a flat sidewalk, the way your body rolls on that type of terrain. In Portugal for many years most skaters were trying to compete and land tricks and get scores and kind of left the basics behind. That confidence of being able to go fast on a skateboard down a street was lost along the way. And that’s the kind of skill you have to take into a skatepark in order to interpret it differently, maybe leave aside the difficult flip tricks and just roll around the park, trying not to push and using the ramps in order to flow through the park.

I really agree with that. It has to do with different types of skaters. I’m most interested in watching skaters that are not just doing single tricks and not even lines. A line is like a sequence with beginning and end. I’d rather feel that someone is just skating, with no plan, and we’re being shown an excerpt of that, like the feeling you got from watching Tommy Guerrero skating street in the late 80s. You kind of feel that the magic of skateboarding has to do with how you explore your surroundings and inscribe yourself into all of their shapes and patterns.

Yeah and obviously some skateparks call for that sort of skating more than others but it really has to do with the type of skater that’s going to use the park. We usually build skateparks with quite a bit of transition and there are skaters that don’t even use the ramps, they just skate flat. The park has its potentialities but it’s up to each one to decide if they’re going to make the most of them. I’d say usually older skaters will develop a tendency to leave the technical tricks aside and go for a more fluid approach. It’s more fun than trying a really hard trick for hours and leaving frustrated. But it has to do with what you want and how you want to spend that moment you have for skating.

I’d say the essence of skateboarding is carving and many people don’t realize that. They don’t even loosen their trucks enough to be able to carve.

Of course, because it’s way easier to kickflip when your board isn’t tipping all over the place. Moving on to your working process: how does it go, do you have everything figured out in your plans or do you leave stuff to be decided on the spot and as you’re building?

It varies according to each project. Some we start and everything is already settled, the budget is final, and we know there’s practically no room for changing anything. Others we walk into with a blank sheet and we can do whatever we feel like. It has to do with the client, the location, the budget too, usually. We did Boobie Trap in Barreiro and the first time we worked there we had a fixed budget but no plan whatsoever as to what we were going to do, so it was just skater talk at the spot that defined what was going to be built, and that’s really satisfying.

And how about that thing we all kind of have, as skaters, of reading the city in terms of skate spots, like looking at stuff and thinking that some skater we know could probably do a trick there, do you get that? Like looking at stuff and thinking “this would make for a cool feature in this park I’m designing”?

Oh yeah. And not just in the city. I go for walks in these woods close to where I live and I see all sorts of organic shapes, like enbankments and inclines, that I think would be great for a skatepark. And when we’re given the freedom to build those things out of concrete it’s just magical.

Yeah, I had sort of figured from your website that you liked building stuff that flowed organically along continuous lines. But I’ve only skated one park built by you guys, the one in Santo André, and that one is a bit different.

I was there yesterday. They asked us to do a little work there, a couple of improvements. We’re soon giving the city council a cost estimate. The central feature of that skatepark is a perfect example of what we were talking about. It was the only thing we designed in that skatepark because the overall design was done by Luís Fortes. There was some free space in the centre and so we took inspiration from a sand dune and built this unique object that has a kind of transition on one side and a pyramid spine on the other. They skate it a lot and they really like it, which makes us very proud, because we really enjoyed building it.

I can tell you I took some pretty good slams trying to figure out how to skate it some years ago. And what about imagining a certain skater using the stuff you’re creating? Does that happen to you when you’re building a skatepark?

Yeah, of course. Sometimes we’re looking at a certain transfer and we’re thinking “this guy is going to come here and is sure to hit this” and sometimes we’re surprised. People we wouldn’t even dream about come to our parks and just come up with stuff that is completely out of the box.

That must be a cool feeling.

It’s a really good feeling. When we were working on Boobie Trap there was this transfer that we used to talk about and be like “nah, I don’t think anyone is going to try this” and then Danny León came by to film a little video for Red Bull and on the first day he was there he did the transfer, which means going from this spine onto this other ramp that kind of looks like a sausage lying down.

That brings me to another question, which is linked to that idea we touched on earlier of a skater knowing how to adapt to his surroundings: I think this feeling that adapting plays a central role in skateboarding is behind that sort of unwritten philosophy among skateboarders that a skatepark is a place to learn and warm-up but the streets are where it really counts. What do you think?

I don’t know. I think people should skate wherever they feel like. Skateboarding came from the streets and I don’t feel like we should take it out of the streets. Plus it’s more visible on the streets and if you’re filming or shooting photos it’s more challenging to do it in that sort of natural environment we call street. As skaters we tend to give more props to something that’s done on the streets. That being said, if you can land some really hard trick in the park you can probably do it on the streets and vice versa. Only, there are features that you don’t really find too often outside of skateparks. At least here in Portugal. I’m thinking of pools for example. We don’t build bowl-shaped swimming pools so if you want to get good at skating pools you have to know someone who has a skate bowl in their backyard or go to a public skatepark. But I feel what’s most important is just skating, anything goes.

Sure. At the same time, I get the feeling that we’re currently going through this sort of technical boom, with people doing harder and gnarlier things on a skateboard than ever, because we’re watching a generation that had more access to skateparks than previous ones. Would you agree?

I would. Skateparks are safe places and meeting points where you can just have a session and be sure there will be someone there to hype you up or help you out with a hard trick. You can take a couple of friends on a street session but there that’s all you have. At a skatepark you progress quickly and safely, on the streets it’s harder. You have timings, you may get kicked out or there may be a car parked in the way, there are many things that can stop you from progressing out on the streets. But yeah, I feel that kids today have it easier when it comes to progressing. Also because there’s a lot more information than there used to be.

Yeah. And nowadays with all the videos you can find online... I remember looking at the trick tips section in some magazine as a kid and it was just a photo sequence with captions that I felt told me next to nothing.

There’s nothing like learning a trick in person, from someone who’s doing it. The level of skating went up in Portugal, particularly since around 2000, because you could finally find someone who was already pro skating there in front of you. When you went into a pavillion for a contest and those people were in front of you you picked up all sorts of things. I remember this contest where Ed, who was like six at the time, asked me how to do a front board. He learned it right then, I just told him to align his shoulders with the rail and look to where he was going to come off the rail and he got it and used it in his run. He knew how to keep in touch with people who could skate and give him the right hints, like Ricardo Fonseca and others, and he grew as a skateboarder.

"we got to develop strong ties with the people involved and that doesn’t have anything to do with what ramps we built there, those are links we’ll keep for life."

Now, coming back to the relation between skatepark and city streets, I was looking at the work of this skatepark designer called Daniel Yábar and most of his stuff is way more integrated into the city planning than what we have here. Most of our skateparks are usually in some corner where they’re not in the way of the average citizen and there are well-defined boundaries between them and the rest of the city. Do you think the approach of blending the skatepark with the cityscape is a newer tendency? And is it a good thing?

I think it’s good. I think that happens in his case because Daniel Yábar is a skater. He wanted to bring street elements into the skatepark, even in terms of the type of materials you can use, so that he comes to the point of camouflaging the skatepark. So if no one is skating it, the place just looks like a normal city square, but everything is built with the proper dimensions and all the characteristics that make skateparks perfect for progressing. I think that’s really interesting.

Me too. But unfortunately I feel like that’s the kind of thing that would be very hard to do here. I feel like most city councils would rather have the skatepark and skateboarders out of the way than in a really central and live part of the town.

The toughest part is getting people to join your cause. If you need that place to exist you have to convince the decision makers that it is a worthy enterprise. Nowadays we need that kind of space closer to where people live. I’m not talking about small cities like Leiria, but in places like Lisboa and Porto there are people who spend hours in traffic just trying to get out of town to go skate a public skatepark in the suburbs. If that park was more central, even kids would be able to frequent it more while at the same time being closer to other people, to the area’s residents. They would eventually learn to respect each other, because it would be easier for skaters to interact with non-skaters. In public squares there are usually dead spots, areas nobody uses. If those areas are given life by skaters they’ll not only drive away people with less noble intentions but also attract other people that just enjoy watching the skaters and hanging out. I think that’s good for the cities and you need to let the local authorities know that, and also that there are people who can do that type of work: not just building skate ramps, but building obstacles or sculptures that are good for skating but may be enjoyed by any passerby.

Yeah, I definitely feel like the tendency in Portugal has been towards the more ghettoized skatepark. But then there are places where the opposite happens and a really cool atmosphere develops, I’m thinking about Parque das Gerações, which is not only in a cool place with a nice view but also has the conditions for non-skaters and skaters’ families to hang out and feel comfortable.

Yeah, but Parque das Gerações is different. There you have private enterprise alongside the public investment. The council payed for the ramps and the access roads but then you have a private shop and a cafe that manage the place. When that happens you have the perfect conditions for people to hang out and skate and progress. On the other hand, when all you have is an empty skatepark, like the one in Expo, where there have been some attempts at getting a concession going but it just never happened... there was no private enterprise there and when that happens the place will eventually die out and be forgotten.

We should be wrapping this up but I’d still like to ask you if you have a favourite Wasteland project and why?

Well, each project has its particular charms. On many we got to develop strong ties with the people involved and that doesn’t have anything to do with what ramps we built there, those are links we’ll keep for life. One of the projects that was really meaningful for us was this bowl we built at [Portuguese skater] Guelas’ place. We teamed up with these Belgian builders to make it and they taught us how to polish concrete. Everything that happened there opened many doors and new opportunities for us. From there we moved on to the Boobie Trap, where this skater set aside some money he got from one of his sponsors in order to be able to build ramps with his friends. That was really special, we were taken in by this local skate and surf association with whom we’ve remained good friends. Another cool one was at Clive [Chadwick]’s house. He’d been wanting to get a bowl in his backyard for some time and he got many people who build skateparks around Europe to meet up at his place and build it. It was great for us because we made all these new acquaintances and learned a lot. There are many examples, but the friendships you develop are definitely what matters the most.

What about the future, do you have many plans, anything that you’re particularly hyped on?

We have some projects on paper that are already going through what you might call the official motions. Also some proposals to make and two small bowls that we’ll begin building pretty soon. I can’t really say too much about the projects we have on paper because we still haven’t gotten the final thumbs-up, so we’re not sure the parks are going to be built, but I’m thinking they’ll go from paper to reality sooner rather than later.

Those are good news. I hope you start building as soon as possible, so that we’ll have some more pins to add to Trucks and Fins, which means somewhere somebody has a new spot to skate. Thanks a lot, João. Anything you’d like to add?

I’d like to thank all my team, all of them skaters. I don’t have enough words to thank them for their continuous efforts, designing, building, but also when we have to stay home because there’s no work and they manage to stay positive and push through. I can’t find the words to thank them enough for that. I’d also like to thank my familly, who’s always supported me, all our clients and friends, who have made so many projects possible, and you and the Trucks and Fins team, for the work you’re doing.

Thank you, João.

By Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira

The story of F51, the three storey 17 million pound skatepark that is changing lives

How a multi-storey skatepark in Folkestone is transforming the skateboarding scene in the Southeast of England and why so many people around the world want to visit it. The design of Folkestone51 could be a metaphor about life: the higher you go, the wider and greater your range of action. But it’s just a mind trick to take the visual weight off the building. The man who reveals this is Guy Hollaway, the architect responsible for this disruptive, comprehensive, and catchy building in Kent, in the Southeast of England. A 17 million pounds project that opened in 2022. We had a talk with Guy Hollaway, the proud architect of F51, the result of a long and sometimes painful process. 'I was F51's first blood injury', he says with a smile. What drove you to make this multi-storey skatepark in Folkestone, the F51? It's all due to a man called Sir Roger de Haan, who ran the Saga group, which employeed around 2.500 people, literally almost the whole population of Folkestone. 15 years ago he sold the company for 1,6 billion pounds and decided that his legacy would be philanthropic. He invested 15 million in the town, in arts, sports, education, in regeneration. He's also currently building around 1000 units on the sea front. It´s a one-man regeneration. I've been very fortunate to be on this journey with him and have been his main architect for this regeneration of Folkestone. About seven years ago he phoned me up and said ‘Guy, I’m thinking about buying a peace of Folkestone’ and I said ‘don't you own it all anyway?’ and he answered ‘yeah for sure but there's this piece of land’, located on the edge of one of the most deprived parts of Folkestone, if not in the Southeast of England. Kids there have no money and are very deprived. It's a desperate area. He said 'look, if we are going to put a thousand units there we need places for people to be’. It’s when the multi-storey building comes to your mind, but… I said ‘what about a multi-storey car park?’ He said ‘yeah, OK, good idea, go away and design that’. I designed it and showed it to him. He said ‘Guy, this is a bit boring’ and I said, ‘It’s a car park, what do you want?’. Then he told me that there was an old skatepark at the sea front and asked me to think about a way to integrate skate in this car park, put it on the roof, something like that.’ When I showed the design to him he said ‘this car park is boring, but the skatepark is amazing’. And then he asked me to think about this idea. That’s when I designed this multi-storey skatepark with multiple levels. I got pretty excited; we worked on this about six months and we came up with this idea of creating a building which was about adrenaline sports. It has climbing and a boxing club too. There are all sports which are about yourself and your own journey. What happened next? This got buzzy around the world and we suddenly thought ‘s*** maybe we got an idea here’. Even Tony Hawk called me, saying ‘I’ve seen this skatepark, are you going to build this thing?’ And I said ‘yeah!’ We did, we built it, it took a long time, but that happens when you try to reinvent something… What we wanted to do was to create a skatepark great for the beginners and for the local kids with an international standard. And now people come from America, Australia, Asia to skate here. We have put the town on the map. We are going to create a whole new generation of kids who skate. We have this programme where if your local and under sixteen you can skate there for one pound a month, which is pretty nuts, so suddenly skate becomes incredibly accessible. Accessible because they can get there very easily, too… Yeah. When I wake up in the morning my thought is ‘where are my car keys’ but this generation wakes up in the morning and thinks ‘where’s my bike, where’s my skateboard’, their mobility gives them a sense of independence. This skatepark becomes a training ground. What we wanted to do was to create something they could really belong to and how can we rethink the perception of skateboarding in the world. I had some people calling me from America, fascinated with the fact that we were putting the skatepark in the town centre, when they say ‘we build this skatepark out of the town’. Sometimes it gets territorial and doesn’t become so accessible. What we found is that we have these different levels, and we can have an all-girl evening or a rad dad’s night, we have school parties, birthday parties… it’s a very interesting concept. This building is literally a gift, isn’t it? Yes, a gift from Sir Roger. A 17 million gift. The business plan in a nutshell is this: the building makes money with the climbing wall, boxing club, through people out of town who come and pay to skate or roll, the Cafe, events… and the idea is that the money it generates is to pay the costs. I spent a lot of time making this business plan and it’s working so far. The only way that it works is that you have a building that is efficient to run. It’s a cold building so there's no heating in there, it has minimal electricity demands. Is it a private management? Yes. What Sir Roger does with all his projects is he creates a trust for the building with people who seat on the board and make all the decisions about the management of the building. As part of the trust there’s a network regarding other sports buildings, schools programs, we have all these connections with the town to get these kids into the building. “I also wanted to make something very urban and cool. If the skate community don’t like what you’ve done they will reject it” Tell us about the design of the building. Why did you choose that shape? I wanted to do a smaller building on the ground floor, where there is a café. Very visible and welcoming on the ground floor and a building that gets bigger as it goes up because we needed more space. But then I created some real architectural trickery: if you look at the buildings next to it it’s a three-storey building that looks bloody tiny but this is the equivalent of an eight-storey building, but it doesn't feel like that. It’s because the windows are two storeys high and there are big panels, so it plays tricks on your mind. The building looks and feels a lot smaller because you take the weight out off it. You don’t have angles into the ground, it curves away from you, so you never see the end of the building. I also wanted to make something very urban and cool. If the skate community doesn't like what you’ve done they will reject it. So it's a very big challenge to create something that is cool and is going to be accepted. Normally if you give that to the council or local authority of the government, they will kill it in seconds! Did you work with the skate community? We did things like we invited the skate community to submit designs for the murals in the skateparks. We had 120 young people put in designs and we put all those designs on the skateboards in the cafe, but we selected ten that went into the park, on these huge murals. It gave them a sense of ownership even before we opened. We did a lot of work with them in terms of consultation. Look: I'm not cool or I’m not what they think is cool, so they dictate what is cooler and everything else. The building was really well received by the skate community. “I don’t think it’s ever been attempted before to put a concrete bowl up in the air” What about the engineering: how challenging was building a suspended bowl? A nightmare! It’s one of those moments when you think ‘why the f*** I did that’ [he laughs]. I don’t think it’s ever been attempted before to put a concrete bowl up in the air. It was built by Maverick, they are extraordinary. We put decks and colour styling moulds like a jigsaw puzzle and late we reinforced it with concrete into the mould and took the moulds away and that formed the bowl. But that bowl is a beam as well, so it’s hard to tie the whole thing together, it’s pretty crazy. It’s quite a thing when you walk in, and you feel the bowl above your head. It’s heavy, it’s nuts! It’s a roof with architecture, engineering and skate coming together. I really don’t think anybody tried to do that. We invested in skate in such a way to celebrate the architecture, the engineering, and the culture of skate. It elevated the skate, you say ‘you have changed lives, you give young people an identity and you’re worthy to become an Olympic sport’. Maybe we will have the next Olympic skater from Folkestone, who knows? What kind of concrete did you use? We used a replacement of cement. It’s a bio product from steel manufacturing. It’s something more sustainable, i’s a low carbon concrete. Beyond the bowl, which is 2,8 meters deep, you got a street flow and a flow park, those are timber floors so that in 10 years’ time we can take timber floors out and replace it. The structure of the building goes into steel frame above the concrete so that just made the building a lot lighter as we went up through a little bit more cost effective as well. How many people can you host in the building at the same time? Up to 170 people on each floor, over 600 in the building. What tends to happen is we have a competition on just one floor, so it's like if you’re in a street exhibition you are not in the bowl. It’s pretty rare to have many people across all the floors. The climbing wall is more commercial. We have the tallest climbing wall on the Southeast of England Midlands and we have bouldering. I think if I had more time, I probably would have made the climbing centre bigger because it’s so popular. “When as I was growing up here all you could think about was leaving the town as quickly as you could. We wanted to upgrade their lives by education sports, to access to an adrenaline building like this. Maybe we can reverse brain drain” You have mentioned the commercial spots like the climbing wall. Is that what makes the difference? Because indoors around the world struggle by just doing business with skateboarding…   Skaters are free spirited. I’m generalising, but they don't think ‘I’m going to skate in two weeks’ time so let’s book it’. It doesn’t work like that. They just look at the weather and make a decision. The building needs to understand the culture, but you can make money through climbing centres, bouldering and the boxing club. This is a club where people come to train, and we saw the membership triple. In the beginning we had two girls and now there are 43 girls. It’s pretty insane. All those sports coming in interactive, it’s about their own journey but what we wanted to do was a larger regeneration story, we wanted to upgrade their lives by education sports, access to an adrenaline building like this. This means that the memory of their upbringing might be positive and we can reverse brain drain. You had your own experience in the past… Basically when as I was growing up here all you could think about was leaving the town as quickly as you could, but now if you can create a memory which is supposed to be warm to your community and your family and everything… OK we are going to lose a lot but if we could capture maybe 30 per cent of those kids that will pay by 10/20 times over there because you're keeping the best brains, you’re keeping people in the town.   How long do you skate? I'm not a great skater at all. I started skating when I was a kid and had a big injury, my tooth went through my bottom lip, it put me off a little… Lately if prefer to surf to be honest. I was the firs blood injury at F51. I injured myself quite seriously and had to go to the medic room on the opening day, actually [he laughs]. I love skating and I love what it gives. To be a good skater you need coordination, but you have to have discipline, the process of training and mental training and having dimensional awareness… Besides that... It’s often you find the Skateworld opens itself up to the creative industry... if you just look at fashion, trainers, if you think about the music industry, if you think about design and arts… it’s so accessible to the creative industry and creative industry is the largest growing industry now… if we could inspire some of these young kids through skate to see opportunities, to entering into work or into business and start monetize in some sort of way… If you look Netflix documentary ‘Dogtown’ all those guys came from some sort of former creative industry. So, we think these things create an opportunity and access to people. A building like this would be the same success in the centre of London, where you have more options around? Yes. Because of the weather, the convenience, the set up for challenges, because of the size and the scale of it. There’s a huge section of skaters, those who are the independent thinkers, they are people who skate anywhere, they are just obsessed. Historically there is this perception that skating is anti-behaviour or something else. And what this building does is to fuse these things together and opens up to another generation which has more girls getting involved and the rad dads who started skating again with their kids, or scooters or bikers… so if it becomes far more accessible it opens it up and then you can start to make financial models to work. That business model is a bit different at F51… This project is unfortunately unmeasurable. If you’re under the age of 16 and you’re a local you pay a pound a month. But that’s just Roger’s gift. We’ve looked to the model of F51 and started applying that on The Wave Project and other projects. We are starting to work out how we can make it accessible and revivable. You need these philanthropic projects. It took us a few years to build this, because we didn’t want to create a white elephant. “Through mobility that you become fitter and healthier, then I think skate will transform how we live” How do you think skateboarding will be in the next 10 years? I think one of the most interesting things by watching the Olympics was… if you watch the athletics or other sports if you come second it’s like their world ends, like they've failed, but in skate there are no winners or losers. You fall over and you get up, you learn from your mistakes and from falling, and life is a bit like that. I loved watching skateboarding during the Olympics because if you became 6th or 8th they were celebrating. Because when you skate everything's going to connect it once. Any multiple things could go wrong in any second, it’s like when you’re catching a wave, and you try to put a combination of something together. Skating is about yourself and about limits and that’s why it has so much potential in the future. Just as a sport or like something more? We will become more mobile in a different way, and we think about our cities, how we move around our cities, the 15 minute cities, and if we can create a generation of cyclists and skaters and scooters, these very contractions in the same way… If we can start to think about mobility in a different way we could start to think about fitness, wellness, well-being… Through mobility that you become fitter and healthier, then I think skate will transform how we live. It’s a really strong message. And that’s why we need these kinds of projects to nurture the next generation but also to educate the generations that exists. Guy Holloway Folkestone skatepark

Read More

How many skateparks are there in the world?

The million dollar question? How many skateparks are there in the world?  Three years ago, this whole crazy journey started, because I wanted to make the first map of all the skateparks in Portugal. After completing my first country I decided to map out the rest of the world and basically never stopped uploading parks since then. The following data is not 100% accurate, because I am still uploading hundreds of new parks a week. But one thing if for sure. There are 18545 skateparks in the world on our map and I estimate there are around 23000 public skateparks around the globe. What country has the most skateparks? The United States of America has way more skateparks than any other country in the world and there are 7 countries with over 1000 skateparks. The United States of America, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Spain and Brazil are all members of the +1000 club. Below you can find a list of the current top 20 countries with the most parks. What country has the most capita per skateparks? Having the most skateparks is one thing. But who has the most parks per capita? Well, yesterday I put all the numbers in excel to find out. The results are surprising. Liechentstein comes on first place. This small country has 7 parks and a population of 38383, meaning you have a park for every 5483 people. The USA currently is far from reaching the top 20 list with one park for every 95573 people. Brazil is another country that disappears off the list with one park for every 214781 people. These lists and rankings will change over time whilst I continue to upload and find parks, but it does give us an idea of the current situation around the world. Know a skatepark that is missing on the map? You can add the skatepark here and help keep our map up to date! See all the skateparks in the world Add a skatepark to the map 

Read More

Get ready for the Super Crown World Championship in Rio de Janeiro

In a couple of days the best skaters will compete in the Olympic Park. With the highlights on the duel between the Portuguese Gustavo Ribeiro and the Japanese Yuto Horigome, as well as the phenomenon Rayssa Leal, from Brazil The Arena Carioca 1, at Parque Olimpico da Barra, will host, between the 5th and 6th of November, the Super Crown World Championship, the final stage of the Skate Street World League (SLS) 2022. This is considered the main skate street competition to be held in the country in 2022. For this year's edition, the SLS Super Crown World Championship expects to receive around five thousand fans a day. The important names of the modality are awaited in the search for the title. In the men's, the Portuguese Gustavo Ribeiro, who won the recent stage in Las Vegas, will have as his main opponent the Olympic champion, the Japanese Yuto Horigome, who leads the ranking.  Photos credit: Julio Detefon / CBSk In the women's, Brazilian Rayssa Leal, who won all stages of the 2022 Street League Skateboarding (SLS), held in Jacksonville, Seattle and Las Vegas, arrives as the favorite. She also won the STU Open Rio, held at Praça Duó, in Barra da Tijuca. Second place in the STU Open Rio and in the world ranking, Pâmela Rosa also has a chance to win the third consecutive world championship.  In addition to the top four in the SLS men's and women's rankings, the top four will compete in the final after the qualifying stage, which will take place on Saturday, the 5th, at Arena 1 at the Olympic Park.  In the 2021 edition, TV coverage of the event was followed by more than six million people worldwide, while another five million were impacted by social media. In Brazil, the economy around the modality moves almost 200 million dollars, which places the country as the second largest skate business center in the world, after the United States of America. Visit StreetLeague website Watch Live

Read More

Skateboarding in the United Kingdom - Have we found all the skateparks in the UK?

The Skatepark map of the UK is complete. Finding skateparks in the United Kingdom has never been easier. Piece by piece like a massive puzzle, here it is: the skatepark map of the United Kingdom is finally complete. From the ‘old school’ iconic parks, to brand new spots and crappy skateparks, we found them all. But please don't shoot the messenger if you do find one more, because I am sure there must be more hidden away somewhere. There's always one more. We have found a total of 1786 public skateparks, including asphalt and concrete pumptracks. Most parks are street focused, just like most countries around the globe, but it's never been a better time for transition skaters too. Did you know there are 267 skateparks with bowls in the UK? From North to South, skateboarders can find detailed information about each spot and together with GPS location and local businesses nearby. A map of stoke to compare parks with other spots and to decide where to go to next. With 1786 parks the UK scores third place in the countries with the most parks in the world, but numbers change a bit if you put things into a different perspective. If you look at skateparks per capita the United Kingdom only comes on 14th place, with one park for every 38504 people. Liechtenstein comes on first place of that list with one park for every 5383 people. Food for thought. 5 bucket list skateparks in the UK Southbank Undercroft had to be on the list, of course. Southbank has been around since the 70s and has many stories to tell. Like someone said “It wasn’t made for skating. If it was, it would be something completely different". That is why it's such a unique spot. Folkestone 51 is a 17 million pound indoor skatepark in Kent featuring the world’s first suspended concrete bowls and three stacked floors dedicated to all types of skateboarding and BMXing. Prefer street or transition, concrete or wood? Don't worry F51 has you covered and has something for all levels of riding ability. Dean Lane skatepark, aka the "deaner", has been around since 1978 and was one of the first parks in the UK. Dean Lane skatepark is a concrete self funded DIY park located next to the Bristol South swimming pool and features a transition and street section. The Deaner is famous for its severe transitions, making it hard to skate.  If you like transition then Haverfordwest skatepark is what your looking for. The skatepark was built by Maverick skateparks in 2014 and features several bowls and a transiton area with nicely blended in street elements. Distinctive is that one in the Shetland Islands, too. This park proves that distance or geography aren't a problem when the community raises their voice and gets together. The Lerwick Skatepark is the northernmost skatepark in the United Kingdom and its smooth concrete and design definitely make the park a bucket list spot. Skateparks and Special features in the United Kingdom Racio total population/skateparks: 38504/park Total skateparks: 1786 Total asphalt/concrete pumptracks: 111  Total skate bowls: 267 Miniramps: 901 Halfpipes: 12 Fullpipes: 2 Skatepark Builders in the United Kingdom Click on profile builder - select "See all parks" to see the map of each builder. Maverick skateparks Four One Four Skateparks Canvas Skateparks Wheelscape Skateparks Influential Skateboarders in the UK Ben Raemers Geoff Rowley Tom Penny Matt Pritchard Sky Brown See all the skateparks in the United Kingdom

Read More

Skatepark hunter in the highlight - Patrick Peeters - 100 skateparks added to the map

October 28, 2022, interview with skatepark hunter Patrick Peeters Meet Patrick Peeters, one of our top skatepark hunters, who visited 107 skateparks in less than a year. Patrick Peeters is a Belgian TV camera operator who discovered skateboarding during a "bad moment" in his life. Skateboarding helped him "clear" his mind and chasing skateparks in Europe has been his passion since then. 107 skateparks, in less than 1 year, is one hell of an effort, so we decided to have a chat and find out more. First, tell us something about you. Where are you from, what do you do and how/when did skateboarding turn part of your life. Hello, I'm Patrick, I'm 46, I live in Belgium where I work as a television cameraman. As a teenager I skated, but can't remember doing anything special. I just liked cruising around and jumping over some self-build quarters. Then I stopped skating for 30 years, but have been back on a board for the last year and half. So yep, I'm back skating again and love it. In the beginning actually my sister wanted to start with inline skating, so I went along at the local pumptrack with her and that's how it all started. What drives you to find, discover and help update new skateparks? I love to skate at different parks, just so I can find spots I like. Skating different parks helps me get comfortable on different surfaces, shapes, heights of quarters, and carve in different bowls. I was planning to make a Facebook Page or something similar, to collect my pictures of different parks, to get my own sort of database. And then I discovered Trucks and Fins. I knew this was what I was looking for. I believe there are more people that would love to have information and see quality photos of skateparks, before making the decision to go there or not. And that's why I love to help update the website. Can you tell us how far you go to explore a skatepark? When I drive to a skatepark the first reason is to find a spot to skate. The second reason is to get photos of the park because I am there. I'm lucky to be allowed by my chief to make some detours on my way to work abroad, so I can drive some extra km's to check out parks in France and other places. Along the way I have found some great skateparks. Recently I was on vacation in Tenerife and of course couldn't resist to check out all the local parks and put them on the Trucks and Fins website. You have visisted 107 skateparks, what are your favourite? And what about the worst? I didn't end up skating all the parks. Due to weather or not having a board I didn't skate every single one of the parks. But from the ones I did skate the worst was Grand Marais Skatepark near Amiens in France. It's a concrete bowl with a nice shape, but because it's old, there are pieces of concrete coming off everywhere. I just left after a couple of minutes. It really wasn't possible to skate there. The best? I can't really pick "a" favourite, so here are my top 3: Du Grand Large in Mons, Strombeek Bever near Brussels, and Sint Niklaas skatepark. They all have a nicely shaped bowl and a street section with different obstacles in an interesting setup and quality quarters. Based on your experience, does the average skatepark have the right features for average riders? What could improve? For me there is no ‘standard rider' because of the different disciplines. It's difficult to build a park that's right for all of them. For street you want lots of flat space and obstacles, for transition skating you want a lot of quarters and half pipes in different heights, and for a bowl you want a good closed bowl to carve around. But I guess Blaarmeersen in Gent, Sint Niklaas and Strombeek Bever are all-round good parks. What could improve is getting more in contact with the local skate community when building a park. I have visited a lot of big expensive parks with a bad surface, bad quarters, or the trend now to paint bowls... Skateboarding is a social gathering, too. Do you have a happy story at a skatepark you would like to share? Recently I met a woman who was skating but wanted to skate more and with other people. She was happy to learn about the 'skating for adults’ lesson I was following each week, and she joined our group. When I was on a little holiday in Vienna, Austria, I met some local skaters who invited me to their park, lended me a board, Vans and full protection gear so I could have a go. It was a fantastic moment skating together and being welcomed like that. What is your favourite trick? Not sure if it qualifies as a trick, but I love to carve and I hear nice comments about my carve skills. I know it's definitely not a standard skill. At the De Kuil bowl in Den Haag one skater said that at the time he first tried skating a bowl, he already skated 10 years but couldn't carve, and was impressed with my carving after 1 year skateboarding. Another skater said he held competitions between his friends to see who was able to carve a curve after a curve, but they couldn't do it. And to see me do it like I do after just 1 year was really great. So, I guess it is a trick! Who’s your favourite rider (actual or all time, it’s your call)? To be honest I don't follow any specific rider. I prefer to follow adults on their journey to learn to skate than more experienced skaters. But of course, as a kid and still now I know Tony Hawk and really like his style. Would you like add something I didn’t ask? I want to go more into what skateboarding has done for me. I started to skate when I was in a bad place in life. Skateboarding gave me a thing to focus on. Something to clear my mind, a reason to go outside and do something, to meet other people, and do some good exercise. It has helped me a lot on a mental and physical level, which I could never have imagined when I started. As I have become fairly active on Instagram with my skate account, I had some people who told me they are inspired by my journey, by my progress, and so I think it's given me an extra boost to share it all, the positive and the negative. And I always like to leave a positive remark or an encouraging note. We all have our own journey, our own progress, don't compare yourself to others. Just have fun and enjoy your own skills. Could you give us your opinion about our project, Trucks and Fins? I love it! It is exactly what I was looking for. A map with all the skateparks, with some pictures, so I can plan a skate trip to the parks of my interest. I hope every skater will get to know this map, and to use it for their trips. Patrick Peeters Instagram See Patrick Peeters his skatepark portfolio

Read More

Style is fundamental in Olympic Skateboarding

October 31, 2022, interview with Marcos Hiroshi Subjectiveness, originality and fearless tricks are the secrets to success in Olympic skateboarding. In this third part of the interview with Marcos Hiroshi we get a comprehensive view about how judges value a good trick. Stay foolish is still a good mantra. How have the Olympics changed skateboarding in Brazil? We got the power to advocate. Skateboarding now has the same importance and relevance as many other sports. Now we can talk to politicians and demand a skatepark like other sports demand new facilities. Skateboarding is becoming more popular in Brazil… Yes, even folks who didn't know anything about skateboarding are now more curious. People want to know more about skateboarding and hear stories about their heroes. The bad image of skateboarding belongs to the past. A rider is not an outcast anymore. Skateboarding is now a kid’s sport. It's something that brings all people together. It's more than just winning or taking over the other one to rule. The image of that girl being raised was a landmark in the Olympics. The Japanese skater, Misugu Okamoto, missed the podium after bailing a flip attempt and falling into the concrete bowl. While she was crying, other competitors showed up to hug her and lifted her on their shoulders, becoming one of the most powerful images of that competition. This was the perfect calling card of skateboarding. Now you have that uncle who during a family dinner is talking about the young girls who are rocking in skateboarding, like Rayssa Leal. That's a good thing, because people are interested in skateboarding and it unites people.  It is about empowerment. Thanks to this, riders are receiving scholarships. They do not ride just to get a sponsor; they get money from the state or local government. That money will sustain the skater and that is a huge change! Furthermore, many specialists started to work on the backstage: therapists, physiotherapists, coaches, referees…  people who became professionals. I was in Tokyo during the Olympics and people from other sports were saying ‘hey, I like the way things work in skateboarding.’ They got impressed. You have conquered a place… Yes, but we are having some disputes with Worldskate, which is more related to roller skate. Skateboarding wants to take their own decisions and follow its own path. Worldskate has nothing to do with skateboarding. Fortunately, skateboarding is rising in other countries due to the Olympics. I went to China recently and I noticed how powerful skateboarding is. I saw some exceptionally good things in Turkey too. You are a judge member at skateboarding competitions, including the Olympics. How subjective is your analysis? There is a fixed value for a trick. The extra comes from other factors like did he do that it at the limit, the speed, style... For that we give hundredths of a point and that is what makes the difference. Let us say a deep slide is worth 5,10 but the guy who does that perfectly and with style gets 5,86. We value the one who makes the difference. It's not like snowboarding, where there are mandatory maneuvers with a closed and fixed value. Subjectiveness is one of the more important parts of skateboarding. Style and individuality mean a lot, which is the essence of skateboarding. We stand to prevent riders to become robots. How do the judges establish judgment rules? The CBSK created referee courses to explain, in each state, how the evaluation system works. Judges learn how to take notes, what to pay attention to, etc. Do you watch training sessions to? Yes. In the Olympics we must watch all training sessions since day one. Is there a specific training sessions’ number? Yes. If a competition starts on Thursday, then Tuesday and Wednesday are dedicated to practice and official training sessions. That is when we see what the athletes are preparing and what they are going to do in competition. We start to study them on previous days. Based on that we, the judges, start to set an average to a special trick. Give me an example. Let us say we see a guy doing a flipnose blunt. We start to discuss: how much should we grade it? And then we start to make charts to divide it in those items that we talked about before. We go to the park, too, to try it. It is impossible to understand the difficulty level of the obstacles from a higher point of view. By going there, we see the distance between obstacles, how high they are, witch side is more difficult, if there is a crack. Those details will help us to have a full guide and to give a fair rate. You must decide very quickly. Because competitions have TV broadcasting, judges cannot debate rates, we must decide almost immediately. We have 15/20 seconds to do it. That is why we prepare everything in advance. Is there a chance of a rider surprising you during a competition? That is almost impossible. If a rider wants to show a new trick, he must try it before, at training sessions, where we are studying them. I remember one time a guy doing a Caballerial nose flip. He was just trying, but we started to debate ‘how are we going to score this if he does it during the competition’? How many judges were you at the Olympics, in Tokyo? Five judges and a head judge. I was a park judge. Are the Olympics changing the skateboarding categories? Mixing styles in one competition is the future? Yes, the future is to combine all features at one single track. The rider of the future will be the one who has not just a category, he must do everything well. It is by watching championships that you see who has that profile. Andy Anderson is a good example; he is someone from freestyle who rocks in park. Park is still too attached to bowl and vert; the future will be a fusion of all these categories. Instagram Marcos Hiroshi Read interview part 2

Read More


Join the Trucks and Fins community and receive exclusive news, giveaways, access to subscribers-only
-contests, discounts from our partners and much more directly from us!



Sponsored By

Cookie Policy

This website uses cookies or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalized recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy.