If you have no idea what surfskating is, I don't blame you. I didn't really know much about it until I did this story, but there's a good chance you've seen someone riding it or carrying it around the city. These boards, which are shaped slightly different from skateboards, may perhaps be brushed off by a noob like me as a different form of skateboard but there's a little more to it than that. Whatever the case, the surfskate craze has for some reason descended upon the Land of Smiles and has tickled almost everyone's fancy. If you're someone who's looking to get into it or just someone who wants to figure out what the heck is going on, read on. Perhaps by the end of this, you'll find yourself wanting to surfskate yourself.
What is surfskating?
The annoying definition is that it's skating on a surfskate but there's a reason why this specific board is important and makes all the difference. Unlike other boards out there, the surfskate replicates on the pavement what it's like to surf on waves. Though others might argue that there are other boards like this, skater/YouTuber Shred Shack says that it gives that "feeling of surfing better than a longboard". Unlike regular skateboards, it's possible to keep momentum going by "pumping" (the motion of pivoting the front end of the board left to right) the surfskate in a similar manner to a surfboard rather than pushing off the ground like you would on a regular skateboard. That means with practice, you can actually ride a surfskate with your feet never touching the ground -- y'know, kinda like when you're surfing because well... you can't really push off water, can you?
I caught up with Mona Narukatpichai, a surfskater in Phuket who runs the IG account @islandsurfskate. She started learning near the end of last year but quickly fell in love with it and opened a surfkate-only account so as not to clog her personal feed up with surfskate content. "I just added people who I've met in skate parks and following people who surfskate in Phuket," she said. "I started gaining more followers and now there's a small tight community. We do a Q&A on weekends on IG stories." I asked her how she started and she said that she met a friend at Kata beach where she tried it for the first time. "When I realised it wasn't that hard, I went there more often to train," she explained. "There weren't any instructors like there are today so there was this surfer guy there that I met and he taught me how to ride a surfskate. That's pretty much how I started, and then I began going to different skate parks in Phuket."
"It's quite a small niche community in Phuket," Mona continues. "There's a place called Saphan Hin here in Phuket where a lot of skaters go at night so a lot of us know each other already." If you're one of the people who want to get in on the community and try surfskating yourself, Mona has a tip for you: "Just go for it. Some people overthink too much and are afraid of falling or looking foolish, but I think if you just try and put yourself out there a little bit, it's really freeing to be on the board and learning new tricks.
There is a catch though. "The board is quite hard to get hold of. It's out of stock everywhere," Mona says. She says there are some online though. I asked her how much they were. "Maybe like B20,000-B30,000?" Yikes.
WHERE TO GET YOUR SKATE ON
If you do somehow manage to buy yourself a board, the next step is actually practising and developing your skills. Plus, it wouldn't hurt meeting people who share the same interest in surfskating as you do. Here are some places that you can visit to get started.
centralwOrld held an event called "centralwOrld Skaters" in Feb, which invited skaters to show off their skills. Now, they've opened up the large space in front of the mall for skaters to use every day until the end of March from 4-9pm. On Saturdays, you can also sign up for a free workshop with pro skaters at 4pm. But it's not only centralwOrld that's open for you to try out your skating skills. There are 18 more Central malls all over the country that have opened up spaces for skaters like CentralFestival Chiang Mai, Central Phuket and Central Plaza Ladprao among many others. Wherever you live, whether it's in the city or outside, there's bound to be one that's near you. Visit fb.com/CPNLife for the full list of malls that have opened their spaces for skaters.
Sky Park BKK
Sky Park BKK on the rooftop of the Fortune Town Mall in Ratchada is regularly visited by skaters in the city. You'll find everyone from the casual or beginner skater trying to improve their skills to the seasoned skaters just ripping through the park. If you're looking to find a community, this is one of the best places to start. There's no doubt you'll also find a number of people who can train you if you're just getting started or people who can give you pointers to brush up on your technique if you're a novice looking to improve. Sky Park is also selling skating accessories so if you need anything, they've got it for you.
Fortune Town, Ratchadapisek SkyParkBKK.com.
If you're looking to be trained properly in surfskating, Surf Caffeine is the place to go. They're offering a class for beginners priced at B3,600, as well as a basic class for kids for the same price. If you've been surfskating for some time and you want to level up your skills then perhaps their advanced surfskate lessons, which start at B1,200, might be more your speed. If you just want a place to surfskate, you can use their private surfskate zone for B800 an hour or B1,500 for two hours. And as you might have already guessed, they've also got a coffee shop so you can get yourself a cuppa before or after your session. Just don't go drinking coffee while you're on your board.
Surf Caffeine, Soi Hathai Rat 3, Min Buri Visit surfcaffeine.com.
MegaBangna has joined in on the surfskate trend and has opened up the rooftop section of the new Ikea parking lot for skaters from 4pm until they close. They're enticing families to come over and skate around with a free peach soda from Ikea in exchange for posting a photo on your social media. You also get the chance to win Vans cash vouchers. There will also be different sections each dedicated to people of different skill levels for safety reasons. You can rest easy knowing that the people with you are also noobs if you yourself are one. However, if you're expecting rails and ramps, you'll be disappointed as they don't have those yet.
Debaratana Road (Bangna-Trat Road) Visit Mega-Bangna.com.
Decathlon Rama II
Decathlon Rama II isn't open yet but they've already let skaters know that their skate park is ready and waiting. Based off the graphic renders they've posted on their FB, the skate park looks pretty good and they're inviting not just people who surfskate or skateboard but rollerbladers and BMX riders, as well. The skate park will be ready for use when the branch opens on April 3. However, you do need to become a member to be able to use the skate park for free. Visit their FB page to find out how you can do that.
Rama II Road Visit fb.com/DecathlonRama2.
If in Phuket...
The island of Phuket is capitalising on the surfskate trend and has announced the "Phuket Surfskate Series 2021". Throughout the year, a surfskate event will be held in different parts of the island. The first one was held in Phuket Old Town in Feb 20 while the upcoming event will be in Karon Beach on May 23. Two other events are set to happen this year: Patong Beach on Aug 14 and the final one at Surin Beach on Nov 13.
Aside from the surfskate series, island surfskater Mona named a few places on the island where the surfskate community congregates. Saphan Hin is one of the must-go places as its skatepark is a regular haunt for surfskaters and skateboarders alike. You will definitely meet people who can help you get started on your surfskating journey. Alternatively, you can also head to Surin Beach, which is another place surfskaters regularly visit. Finally, Mona also suggests heading to Nong Han Lake in Karon Beach to meet up with more fellow surfskaters and brush up on your skills.