Anyone who has entered a downhill skateboarding race knows that this is not too difficult to achieve given the right hill, equipment and a bit of experience. Those who are not aware of the growing sport of longboarding would think you’re crazy for going over 30km/h on a skateboard. “100km/h on a skatboard! Are you frikken crazy?” was the title of a pre race article posted by The Bomb Surf which set a high expectation for the weekend and although the highest speed on the day was only 87km/h set by human steam train, Murray Chandler, a lot of fun was had bombing and cruising the usually busy Marsh Road in Mossel Bay.
Skaters started to gather outside Waves Surf Shop from as early as 10am. Street skaters were busting some tricks on the pavement while the longboarders where getting their gear in order and tuning their set-ups for the long straight hill. The format of the event was somewhat different to what the South African Downhill Family is accustomed to. It was only a half day event rather than 2 full days of racing and although the Hill Bomb was the main category it was not the only one. There was also a Street Skating category and a massive half pipe was set up at the bottom of the hill for this. The longboarders also got a chance to show off their steaze in the Cruise The Hill category.
In the days leading up to the event there was a lot of apprehensiveness among the downhill skating community. No one was sure what to expect of the event and would it really be worthwhile to travel all the way from Cape Town or PE to the small town of Mossel Bay to bomb a hill with no corners? Well the prize money that was up for grabs was very enticing: R5000 for the winner! And the event was really just an excuse for the Downhill Family to be reunited again so even those who knew they wouldn’t be winning anything were still keen to make the mission because it’s always a big party at any downhill event.
Practice got underway at about 1pm and the crowds of people started to line the streets to witness the shear speed. The first round of racing started at 2pm and 8 heats of 3 or 4 riders each were sent down the hill one by one. By this time there must have been about 1000 spectators scattered all along the hill and considering that none of the event organizers had any experience in gravity races, the racing went really smoothly. The traffic cops did a superb job in keeping people and traffic off the roads for the racing. After round one the organizers decided to run the cruise the hill category so most of the riders took off their racing leathers to let off some steaze and leave some urethane on the steep road. A lot of beginner longboarders joined in for this category which was great for everyone, it’s always fun welcoming the newbs and giving them a tip or two. It was unfortunate that one or two new guys were skating without helmets but I think that all the experienced guys gave them such a hard time for this that they’re unlikely to be seen skating without a helmet again.
After cruising the hill for about an hour, they announced the names of the riders who had made it through to round two of racing. If you came third or fourth in the first round you weren’t necessarily out of the race. Likewise finishing your first round heat in first or second didn’t necessarily mean that you had made it through. All the heats up until the semifinals were based on time and not position. This was a bit weird but it was interesting to do things a bit different for a change. The riders who made it through to the top eight were Sam Jakins, Murray Chandler, Matt Arderne, Anton Pratt, Chris Bowes, Alex Duss, Glen Phillips and Gerhard Nel. Glen, Matt, Anton and Alex made it through to the finals and finished in that order.
The prize giving seemed to be never ending; there were just too many prizes to be handed out! Everyone was so stoked, seeing the kids scramble like seagulls for the stickers that were thrown into the crowd was pretty funny as well. The highlight of the prize giving and for some, the highlight of the whole weekend was when Alex Duss threw the board he won into the crowed! Check this vid of the mayhem that ensued:
That night, once everyone had sorted out their accommodation at the campsite or one of the many awesome backpackers in Mossel Bay all the skaters and organizers gathered at Cafe Havana for some good food and celebration. Well done to Mike and his team at Waves Surf Store for pulling off an awesome event! Mike already has plans to make the event even bigger next year, if you missed this one, you definitely do not want to miss next year!