Young surfers take to skateboards to practice aerial skills used on the waves
A new skateboard facility will help Australia’s top upcoming surfers hone their aerial skills before hitting the waves.
The Surf Australia High Performance Centre at Casuarina on the New South Wales North Coast has developed the indoor skate park that allows surfers to take to the air to practise their moves before landing on a giant inflatable mat.
The main skate ramp has been specially engineered to simulate what it is like to take on some of the toughest waves in the world.
Seven-time world surfing champion Layne Beachley has just become the first ever female to chair Surfing Australia.
She is excited by the skateboard-training facility, which is the first of its kind.
“This was not going on in my day, we didn’t even have facilities like this in my day,” she said. “In the late eighties when I was put through high-performance coaching it was down at Lennox Heads in a couple of demountables.”
The surfers are monitored on the skate ramp by performance centre scientists and given feedback on improving their performance.
Aerial surfing manoeuvres are fast becoming a way to score big points on the professional surfing tours.
Ms Beachley said the innovative approach will maintain Australia’s dominance on the world surfing stage.
“The objective is to keep Australians at the forefront of professional surfing,” she said. “Other nations around the world are going to be looking at what we’re doing and finding a way to do it better, but we’re ahead of the game, we’re ahead of the curve.”
Surfing Australia chief executive Andrew Stark said the training centre will help locals keep up with the latest surfing manoeuvres.
“No one would have thought five years ago that surfers would be doing the aerials they are now,” he said.
“The Brazilians and the Americans, they’re doing some pretty impressive things so we’ve got to compete with them.”
Current Australasian junior series champion Kai Hing said the skate ramp will help hone his control in the air, but will not completely replace the real thing.
“Just the fact that we’ve got it definitely can’t hurt,” he said. “I can’t wait to progress and hopefully get better over the next few months and hopefully see that performance in my surfing.”
While Kai is not usually a skater, he has quickly taken to the ramp.
“I’ve kind of always been a little bit shy of it because I don’t want to hurt myself for surfing,” he said. “But they’ve got helmets here; they got a big blow up mattress that you can land on, the safety’s here so it’s nothing really to be afraid of.”