Month: August 2013

Skaters

Pictured above is Mart. He’s a 48 year old punk rocker skateboarder with grandkids who has been skating since he was 12. No-one told him to stop.

As a kid I always wanted a skateboard, but after I fell off my mate’s one my mum forbid me from having one. When I hit my 30s I realised I was old enough to take my life into my own hands and buy one but by then then I had a new problem – I thought I was too old for one. 30 year old bloke on a skateboard? I’d look silly. So I didn’t.

One afternoon the thought occurred to me that professional skateboarders like Tony Hawk must be in their 40s by now with kids of their own, but still skateboarding. So I Googled and my eyes were opened to a world of people over 30 on skateboards and longboards. I read about a 70 year old man who only recently got into longboarding. Longboarding was created by surfers who wanted something to do in the winter. It’s a large skateboard, or a small surfboard on wheels. It’s a lot easier to ride than a skateboard and is more about getting around then tricks.

So I bought a longboard on a whim, tried it out and got about 30 feet. I started to feel self conscious on it. It’s a kid’s game. I’m too old for this. All the kids on scooters really made me feel silly.

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As a way of getting over my fears I decided to find and photograph people over 30 years old on their longboards. It would be a way for me to connect with like minded longboarders and reassure myself that I wasn’t too old. I also wanted to use the photographs to show others that it’s a damn cool thing to do and no-one is too old for it.

I met my first longboarder almost by accident while on a run along New Brighton prom, a guy out with his family. It was a group activity, the dad on a longboard and the kids on skateboards and roller-skates. He mentioned that there was a group on Facebook called “New Brighton Land Paddlers”. I joined them and I’ve been out on my longboard with them whenever I can over the past few months.

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My confidence has grown and I’m now happy to shoot up and down New Brighton prom on my longboard using a kahuna stick. The stick gives me the balance I don’t have naturally and also helps with the workout you get. You use it to punt around like on a gondola. It’s called “Land paddling” and takes its name from standup paddleboarding in America, which is a combination of a surfboard and a paddle. It’s a very healthy activity to do. I run and I can feel it working muscles a different set of muscles. It’s great for core strength. So much nicer than the plank exercise routine. It also justifies the BBQ that often takes place.

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The group has been incredibly welcoming. I’ve seen it grow from a handful to a large number over the past few months because they’re all great guys to hang out with, and they want people to get involved. The sport naturally draws some attention on the prom. I’ve been photographed whizzing along on my board and a lot of people want to know what we’re up to. Everyone is happy to chat, let people try out their boards and get them trying new things. People love it. That’s what its all about. Community. Fun.

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The new promenade in New Brighton has really brought new life to the area. Not just inside the copy and paste chain restaurants that have moved in, but out on the waterfront. The prom is always busy on a sunny day and because it is so smooth it’s ideal for groups like the Land Paddlers. Every time I go out I see roller-skaters, longboarders, people on scooters, families all out enjoying the prom.

It’s a great thing to be flying down the prom watching the ships go past at sunset. I hope this project grows and brings others out to enjoy the sun, BBQ and community spirit.

I’d like to photograph more skaters over the age of 30 to grow the project. So if you fit the bill please get in touch.

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Norma

Norma. 46 years old. Photographed here on her first go and has since got really into longboarding.

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Nick. 49 years old. Nick was passing by New Brighton prom one day and saw the guys longboarding. He had recently lost 4 stone in weight so he could get back on his board. Not just any board, but his original board that he made in 1979. However he only went out with his kids as he didn’t feel confident on his own. The group welcomed him and he’s happily skating along New Brighton prom.

Rob

Rob. He only started longboarding last year but he’s also a surfer. He said land paddling is like having a skating stick for old men. All about the community. The BBQs, chatting with friends. Who needs California. He also created the Facebook group to get people involved.

Sean

Sean. Never skateboarded before and been longboarding since October. He was in a bad accident and the stick gives right leg back for skating. Really helped with hip after surgery. He’s also a surfer and also a yoga fan.

Colin

Colin. 44 years old. This is his first go on a longboard and he loved it. He’s a snowboarder so it came naturally to him.

The driftwood pirate ship of New Brighton

Black Pearl of New Brighton

At the start of this year a pirate ship sailed into New Brighton. The first in many a year. This is a very unique pirate ship. It came in on a high tide in bits and pieces. Driftwood for the most part, but also rope, flags and even the odd wet suit. Local artist Frank Lund and his friend Major Mace saw the potential in these bits and set about building an entire ship, having spent the past 6 months crafting dolphins and a nativity scene from whatever they found on the shore.

Black Pearl of New Brighton

It took about a month to fully develop the ship. They spend a few days a week maintaining the ship, but ultimately appreciate that the sea could take back her at any time. The main problem isn’t the kids playing on it, it’s the adults. There is a lot of wood in the ship and it looks beautiful. It’s all been aged and weathered by the wind and the sea. One log is absolutely massive and one man alone couldn’t move it. Frank asked his mates to help out and facing an early start to move a huge piece of driftwood he found himself alone. Thankfully a woman from Oregon with a broken wrist helped. She said they know how to move wood over there.

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The ship just took on its own life from there. Built in response to what two men found on the beach with a little help from passers by, the ship became a focal point for the community. Passers by couldn’t believe what they were seeing. At a distance it’s a real pirate ship. Up close and through the eyes of the children hanging off every rafter its a pirate ship. It’s beautiful and in no way funded. Frank didn’t want funding for it. He wanted it to be organic. He wanted it to bring the community together.

Pirate ship builder, Frank Lund
Pirate ship builder, Frank Lund

Unfortunately some members of the community felt the need to destroy instead of create. In late spring someone set fire to the affectionately named “Black Pearl”. Thankfully someone saw this and the local fire brigade were able to put it out before the ship was completely destroyed. A good portion of the back of the ship had been burnt. Requests for help appeared on Facebook and Twitter.

New Brighton rebuild the Black Pearl

A date was set and the community rallied around the ship to rebuild. Initially the idea was to simply clear away unusable wood but on the night there was such enthusiasm that the entire back end was pulled down and rebuilt in about 2 hours. Men, women, and of course children all got stuck in. Frank said that while it was sad to see the ship on fire it would have never brought everyone together. BBQ’s were roaring, free pies handed out and the community cheered as the pirate flag was once again hoisted up the main sale on our lovely Black Pearl.

New Brighton rebuild the Black Pearl

New Brighton rebuild the Black Pearl

New Brighton rebuild the Black Pearl

New Brighton rebuild the Black Pearl

New Brighton rebuild the Black Pearl

Months on and the ship is still there. Kids are in tears being taken home for tea. “Just one more minute!” Families setup for the day there with prams, picnics and ice-cream. It’s really transformed that area by where the old New Brighton Tower stood. It really shows the importance of public art and how simple things like this can transform a place. Would this have been commissioned in New Brighton? No, never. It’s exactly what we wanted though.

Yar!

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