The Dazzling Blue No. 47: The Surf/Skate Connection

The Dazzling Blue No. 47: The Surf/Skate Connection


A couple years ago, the editors at proposed that I write/edit a series about the history of surfing and skateboarding and how these sports overlap and inform each other. I loved this idea. In the early '00s I wrote Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow. Working on this book was like revisiting my personal history: I skated in the mid-‘70s, found surfing not long after, and though I never got deep into snowboarding, I followed it closely, and had a couple of unforgettable experiences sliding down fresh powder in high Colorado. In my research I learned how surfing informed skateboarding and inspired its lines and tricks, and then later, in the early ‘90s, skateboarding returned the favor.

Below is an excerpt from the series—

You’ve probably heard this story before. In the fifties, California surfers poached their sisters’ rollerskates, liberated the wheels and trucks, and crudely nailed them onto blocks of wood. Sidewalk surfing was born. Nimble teens in khakis and Hobie jackets did walkovers, hang fives, soul arches, tic-tacs. Under tunnels of foliage they tucked low, imaging swishing tubes.

            The birth of the urethane wheel, invented by East Coast surfer Frank Nasworthy in 1973, took the simulated surf experience to new heights. Paralleling the Shortboard Revolution, skateboarding evolved into slalom courses, speed runs, 360s. Inspired by Larry Bertlemann’s tight arc cutbacks, the “Bert” was adapted to banks and bowls, most famously by the Dogtowners.

            “Skateboarding in the early days didn’t exist as its own entity,” remembers original Z-Boy Stacy Peralta. “You were skateboarding to surf on the pavement, to complement your surfing. You were skateboarding because you couldn’t surf at that time because the wind had blown out the waves or the tides were wrong.”

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