Skate’r Thai! Learn to roll, pump, carve to survive the surfskate invasion

Photo: Sup Station and Slide Away Pump Track / Courtesy
Photo: Sup Station and Slide Away Pump Track / Courtesy

They’ve taken over our skate parks, swayed and swerved into our TikToks, and spawned meetups and clubs nationwide.

While you can argue that surfskating is a fad, its rapid spread this year hasn’t slowed, and given the growing number of events and venues, you might think again.

“Surfskating as a board sport and culture appeals to many people,” said Karin “Nick” Manunapichu, owner of Pumptrack SlideAway in northern metro Bangkok. “I see parents bring their kids to our track, they also are surfers, BMX riders, skimboarders, and longboarders.”

Skate'r Thai!

I was in awe of the big airs of Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi when I started skating at 9 in 1980s Ottawa. I’ve kept it up ever since. It was a year ago that I was introduced to surfskating when I met some of the local surfers in Hua Hin that regularly come ride and hang out at the skate park and shop I own and manage with my wife.

What is surfskating? Unlike normal skateboards, where riders kick and push the board forward, surfskates have a special truck (axle) system that allows the rider to pump the board side to side for momentum, what surfers call “carving.” The ride is plush and more forgiving than a traditional skateboard, but the downside is surfskates are bulky, so don’t expect to kick-flip down a set of stairs.

For those who want to check it out or give it a try, SlideAway is the place to go. Since it opened in December, it has become Bangkok’s premier location for this trending sport, with workshops and events on the offer for those curious to check it out or give it a try.

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Located in Pathum Thani city, about 45 minutes from downtown Bangkok, SlideAway was designed and built by Thai BMX champion Chakrit Tongon, who is known in the scene as Ajarn Daeng. Since opening, the park has earned praise among many surfskaters because for its smooth, flowy berms and speed bumps.

Each month they host workshops teaching newbs how to ride and carve.

Owner Nick said he became interested in opening his own pump track after he was introduced to the world of BMX racing. Unfortunately, the plan was hit by the pandemic and lockdown measures, which ordered all sporting venues, including skate parks, to shut for a few months. But that would prove a blessing in disguise for Nick.

“We closed our place because of COVID-19 and opened again in May, almost at the same time surfskating started to go viral,” Nick said. “Some celebrities started to play surfskates, and I think that made other people even more interested.”

The date of next month’s intro course is not yet set but more information can be found at Pumptrack SlideAway. Find it on Tessaban Road in Pathum Thani city.

Photo: Pumptrack SlideAway / Courtesy
Photo: Pumptrack SlideAway / Courtesy

Mongkorn Timkul, aka DJ Dragon, is a veteran of Bangkok’s electronic music scene who now lives in Hua Hin and runs the Hua Hin Skate Park and Head Rock Skate Shop.

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