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FOUR SEASONS: SEARCHING FOR THE KING OF THE SIDEWAYS SLIDERS

Published: The Scotsman (TSMag) 18 August 2012

IN THEORY, sliding sideways should be a transferable skill. A decent surfer shouldn’t find it too hard to adapt to skateboarding, an experienced skater should find snowboarding a breeze, a snowboarder should take to wakeboarding like a duck to water, and so on. But the world of the sideways slider is more compartmentalised than you might think. Or, at least, it is for my generation.

Among the boardriders who came of age in the 1990s there are plenty with feet in two camps, but usually they’ll have a “main” sport – the one they’re really passionate about – and then “the other one”: the one they do to pass the time when, for whatever reason, they aren’t able to indulge in their first love. The kids of today though… well… they’re more advanced lifeforms altogether. Rather than putting their heads down and focusing on one boardsport from an early age, they seem to be much more willing to mix things up. You only have to listen to Sam Christopherson, head of Coast to Coast Surf School in Dunbar, talking about the new tri-sport series he’s cooking up for next month with the owners of the new Foxlake wakeboarding park near Belhaven Bay and theSPACE, a lovingly crafted old-school skatepark in North Berwick, to see how quickly the boundaries between the different side-on tribes are being broken down.

The ideal set-up for this September sliding series, says Christopherson, would be to have people in all age categories competing in all three disciplines, battling it out for an overall title. For this prototype event, however, he reckons only the juniors will be sufficiently multitalented to make a King of the Boardriders contest meaningful. The older guys have a bit of evolving to do first.

“I think this year we’ll just have an overall category for the juniors,” he says. “I don’t think there are enough wakeboarders in the senior division of the surfers or the skaters to do that yet.

“A few of the younger kids are really starting to get into that tri-sport mentality, though, where they can do all the sports equally well.”

Appropriately, perhaps, as it’s the granddaddy of all the other boardsports, the surfing contest will happen first, on the weekend of 1 and 2 September (or the weekend after that if the conditions don’t come together first time around). The wakeboarding competition is scheduled for the weekend of 15-16 September and the skate competition will be two weeks after that.

The surf contest will be called the C2C Scottish Lowland Longboard and SUP Competition, and will replace what used to be known as the C2C Retro Comp. At the old event, competitors could ride whatever species of old-school surfboard they liked, from stubby little fish (twin-finned boards usually well under 6ft in length) all the way up to hulking noseriders (boards over 9ft, designed to allow the surfer to perform tricks on the nose). Now, though, as the new name suggests, it’s longboards only. Christopherson explains the reasoning: “You’re really looking for different conditions for different types of boards,” he says. “For a longboard the perfect conditions are waist-to-shoulder-high waves, whereas the shortboarding only really gets going when it gets to head-height and over. In the end, we decided we might as well run a competition that works for everybody.”

The new contest will also feature an SUP competition – the first time that this new form of surfing has been done competitively in Scotland. SUP stands for Stand Up Paddle, and for those unfamiliar with it, it involves standing upright on a large, super-buoyant board and propelling it with a single-bladed paddle. Practitioners look a bit like a gondoliers.

“Because this is the first time anyone’s run anything like this in Scotland, I’m not sure how big the turnout will be,” says Christopherson. “We might get half a dozen, we might get more.”

Like a true member of my stuck-in-its-ways generation, I’ve never tried SUP surfing. Perhaps this autumn, though, in a bid to keep up with all the multitasking young ’uns, I might give it a try.

For more information, see www.c2csurfschool.com; www.foxlake.co.uk; www.thespacenb.co.uk

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