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