Great chat with the best tech slider on our continent. We discuss skating in his hometown, his travels and the unobtainable goal.
Hey Mark, where are you from?
Is that where you started skating?
Yes, in ’97, while at Uni.
Were there many people in your University skating then?
No just my buddy Benne, he had a few boards in the back of his car. I had go and was hooked. Soon met my first real downhiller - Dom Lilly. He had opened a skate shop here and got me into bombing and racing. Most of my early knowledge came from him, he also had a kick like an atom bomb!
Haha. You mean kick to propel himself or kick your ass?
Both at the start, he is a 6 foot 4 basketball player too
What was the skate shop called?
Random Rides. He got good downhillers together by selling the best kit and we soon had a team
Who was on this team?
I have a team photo somewhere, would help me remember names. Tom Clough, Alex Brinnen, Andy Lewis, me, Dom
When did you start longboarding?
In 1997, first race was the downhill classic in 2000.
Was the 2000 race the first of it’s kind in the UK?
Not the first but it was recognised as the British championships and every UK racer came for a wild weekend in Bude. In 2003 I joined Faltown Skateboards.
How did it go?
I came up with the tricks and got the sessions going but we had different visions of the way forward. After many falling outs I quit. Went to Danger Bay in 2007 and won the slide comp with Kyle Martin and joined Rayne a few weeks later.
HAHA. I meant the race in 2000! How did that go?
Oops, the race was awesome and ran for another 8 years. I went to all of them before it all ended when the road got too rough and the organisers couldn’t find another location. Plenty of movies on youtube.Damn I miss that event. I made the semis every year but 3rd was the best I did at the final race.
What is Faltown Skateboards?
A local skate company, really into sliding – see The Art of Going Sideways
What other UK races did you attend?
Plenty local ones but sliding is my true love.
What kind of sliding do you do?
Brazillian style technical tricks and gnarly Freeriding.
Congratulations on getting on the Rayne team! How did that come about?
I won Danger Bay with Kyle and Rayne liked my riding, I really wasn’t interested in being sponsored after the pain of Faltown but Rayne really fitted my way of doing things. I had some reassurance from them and signed up, they really are the only team for me.
Nice. How do you learn Brazillian style in Cornwall?
Gravity’s video flow had my friend and role model Sergio Yuppie in it, he blew my mind and I copied him by watching his section over and over again. I then travelled to Slide Fest in San Diego for a few years and learned from him in person. I have continued learning and developing my own way as well as visiting Brazil to hang with all the best riders
You lived in San Diego?
No just went for Gravity’s Slide Fest 3 years out of 4. Staying with Micheal Bream.
What is Danger Bay?
DB is the best party in downhill racing, a weekend north of Vancouver that is totally wild and should be given a large amount of credit for the resurgence of longboarding.
How was the competition?
It was always a fantastic day, all sorts of downhill style would go off but I always liked to watch Sergio and Brad Edwards. Two contrasting approaches but both truelly inspirational, their love and commitment to skateboarding shone through. Going to this event and riding with my heroes developed my style and knowledge.
Where else have you had the oppurtunity to skate with Sergio?
In San Fran with Cliff Coleman too (what a guy!), Vancouver, paid for him and Fernando to do a Uk tour and just before Christmas last year my skate partner, Will Edgecombe, and I visited him in Sao Paulo and Florianopolis.
Tell us more about this Yuppie UK tour.
I had the idea in 2010 to spend the money Will and I had for Danger Bay and get him and Fernando to the UK. It was a great way to get much more intense sessions with them, rather than the few stressful runs of a contest. We were helped by Rayne, Surf to Go, Landy, Shiner distribution, Lush, Team Superballs, No Future Skateboarding, Coast, Octane Sport, Curva de Hill, Concrete Wave, Santa Cruz but strangely not Gravity. They sent us boards, wheels etc. So we could have a shop at the different events.
The whole tour was a total blast with two weeks of intense riding across the country taking in some of the best hills and crews we have. We wrote a full story that was printed in Concrete Wave that also had some awesome photos by Will.
Will is your partner in crime?
Sure is, for the last four or five years he has been there for me. Stoking the sessions and travelling to hills and contests, he has risen to be one of the best riders in the world but gets little recognition outside in the wider skate scene. This is bound to change
Are you on the same team?
No, he got his flow through me and Will is now a Team Rider at Rayne!
You spent your prize money on the Yuppie UK tour?
No all our travel money and didn’t go to Danger Bay. I was still left with a thousand pounds of debt after the tour finished.
The sponsorship didn’t cover all the costs?
Hell no! Flights,travel, food, entertainment (smoke!!) came to over £4000.
How was the reception by the UK longboard community?
Excellent, people turned out but as always want something for nothing and baulked at the £8 entry fee! Why do riders expect they can pay a few pounds and then get to go home with free boards, wheels and other swag?
Even when they know you spent your own money to get 2 of the best skateboarders ever down from afar?
I don’t think they even consider it, apart from a few stand outs, Jamie Tharp and Gavin McEnzie who did their best to raise awareness.
Will there be another one in the future?
That was the plan, I have been talking to the best riders and they are interested but to be frank it is so much work and money. It is easier just to buy them flights and go ride in the best places with no hassle.
What is the European sliding scene like?
Not bad but suffers from a false sense of skill level. Nobody travels or puts themselves on the line at international contests but profess their own excellence. I know and study every slider out there and wish they could wake up and really stretch themselves, rather than false boasting and being so perochial.
Are there any Euro slide comps?
No, just local jams or should that be shams? I have organised a few contests that have gone well but again suffer from people wanting to take rather than give. Really feel like I’m moaning a lot but good to get things off my chest
Because of the nature of tech sliding, is it harder to organise?
Sure it takes a great deal of effort and time to be a good slider and is not for the everyman. In Brazil they have been at it for decades and are fanatically organised with a board of control, divisions with points needed to progress up the ranks before you can even compete at the higher levels.
That’s really structured. So who is the world number 1?
In the Pro Class Sergio is number one but the riders in the class below are now both faster and more technical, once they break into the top contests the new wave will blow the more established riders away.
Haha. They’re really that good?
Believe it, check mine and Will’s video on Raynechannel for the proof.
Who is the highest ranked European?
Me, is that the sound of my own trumpet? I think of myself as a world rider, the Euro scene is way to small with no organisation or recognised contests.
Haha I believe it is. Well done. How far off Sergio are you?
I compare myself to an ideal imaginary slider, who can perform all possible tricks both switch and regular. He can never be beaten and will always be there to guide me in my life long persuit.
Sergio is an Icon and has his position through decades of contest wins all over the world, comparing me to him is too rude for me to even contemplate.
What needs to be done to see having more people in Europe having fun going sideways on hard wheels?
Once people have gained a little experience and can think for themselves rather than following the current dogma, they will find that hard wheels are the only way to progress.
What’s the current dogma?
Big, soft wheels only,with endless speed checks and 180s
How was last year for you?
Great! I started it by winning Danger Bay again, trained and skated hard all year. Travelled to Brazil and competed at the legendary Hill of Death. My freeriding progressed to ever more complex tricks, happy with it but every year, day you have to continue to learn and relearn or it can all be over in a flash. Skill fade is a ferocious thing, weeks of hard gains can be gone gone in no time, either from an injury or from working at some other aspect of riding. Keeping all your tricks and attitude at the highest level is not easy for your ego sometimes, you have to put that aside and concentrate on form. This is where the idealised skater really helps me focus and not get hung up in the failures of the moment. Above everything else this is what keeps me in love with downhill, not contests, travel, sponsors or reputation but giving myself to the pursuit of an unobtainable goal.
Define ‘’complex tricks’’.
Ok, eg. switch toe side (backside) check into switch heel side (frontside) 360 into regular toeside check. All with seamless transition and fast speed. 720+, 270s every way, 420s every way, jeez the list is getting endless. Basically combos of all the tricks expressed without pauses.
720? That is a bit mental. Don’t you get dizzy?
No time for being dizzy, it has to be very fast to work. If I don’t commit totally it hurts.
You know what would be awesome?
Doing a few 720s in a row and taking off… like a helicopter
That happens but the board stays on the road and has a messy ending.
It would be highly entertaining! Script this into your next video?
Ok, I’ll keep that in mind
Did you do any riding anywhere in Europe?
I have been to Portugal before, to ride and judge and Mallorca with Graham and Les from Rayne. We met lots of great local riders and the Longboard Girls Crew from Madrid, Will was there too of course but the weather was not with us. The coldest there for 56 years with snow and rain.
Did you get to skate at all?
Of course but the hills were gentle and very slippery which limited the technical riding, still we had the best time and party!
You were in Mallorca! Did you meet our Luigi?
errr… terrible with names.
He has a great moustache and his mom calls him Francesc…
The girls all came down from Madrid to skate with you? Lucky Puto!
Hell yes, I like the approach they have to riding and the industry. They were great company and know how to party! Thanks girls!
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
To make more movies, keep progressing, travel in Europe more and hopefully pick up more sponsors. It is hard to plan the future as things tend to just turn up. I just want to keep on enjoying skating with my friends.
Wheel and truck sponsors?
I am involved with Aera trucks and waiting for the new prototypes, Kevin Riemer has a keen mind and I can’t wait to try them. Wheels would be good! I have specific needs and would like to work with a company who can adapt to them.
Where in Europe do you have your eye on?
I promised my long time friend Espen Felumb Kjendie from Norway I would visit him last year but things came up and I let him down, so I need to go there. Awesome hills and riders there too. Also Spain to visit the Girls crew, Germany as well and perhaps the slide contest in Paris if it’s on. Plenty of places here in Cornwall need investigating.
You’re going to Madrid, for La Noche En Blanco?
Probably, need to check timings but looks like a great time
What slide contest in Paris?
Part of the Slalom world cup, they have had a slide contest for years too but I have never made it, the hill is a bit too gentle for me.
You mentioned a hill earlier called Death hill. How gnarlly is it?
Ladiera de Morte is a contest in Sao Paulo, it was it’s 20th anniversary last year and is the gnarliest hill and contest I have been to. Steep with an unbelievable camber and super grippy surface. I entered the pro class with the kind consent of the Brazilian organisers. One run to qualify, then another hours later. I fell at the end of my second run and had to settle for that, just missing out on the final. I met the originator and many times champion Batman, he was very kind and complimentary to me and gave me one of his hand made and signed boards, they were for the contest winners so I was super stoked. Will and I were the first foreigners to ride in the event and put on a good show for the massive crowd of spectators and riders.
Who is Batman?
Sergio’s mentor and the reason he skates, Fernando Yuppie is named after him. Brazilian champion for year after year but not well known outside of Brazil.
What’s the biggest hill you’ve skated?
Lots of local hills that are steep, up to 33% but Maenporth hill is the gnarliest at 25% with a great surface, tight, ending on a T junction with giant wooden stakes up one side. It is possible to try a wide range of tricks but if you mess up or wait to long before sliding deep trouble is waiting for you.
Giant’s Head in Canada because you can ride it all day and has such a wide range of corners
What do you ride?
Mainly my Nemesis but I broke it so now I use a Killswitch Deelite or Babykiller for freeriding. For years I slid my Agent but designed the new Renegade board with Rayne and that is now my go to board for tech. I have thirteen boards set up for all types of riding and stacks more that don’t get a look in any more.
What are the origins of tech sliding?
Tech sliding is all stand up for me and comes from Fernando Batman of Brazil a real innovator and champion of the 80s and 90s.
Choose 3 numbers between 1-22
11, 4, 20
11 – What’s your favourite sandwich filling ?
Smoked salmon and eggs
4 – Whos is the best person you’ve seen skating ?
Too hard a question, there are so many styles and types of terrain with riders excelling at different things.
20- If every job paid the same amount, what would you do?
under water wood welder
Thanks for your time. It has been great speaking with you.
Thanks to you, perhaps we will meet some day.