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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 3:17 am | Fair 48º


Captain’s Log: Skateboarders Defy the Laws of Physics

A pack of pre-teen youngsters came riding by the coffee house where I was taking a break. They rode skateboards, and carried daypacks and ball gloves.

Up came the noses of the boards and they came to an abrupt halt, to check out a promising combo of a long cement step, a metal rail and a nearby wooden bench. I watched them study the resources with a calculating eye that would do an engineer proud.

They all dropped their gear and began choreographed maneuvers, defying gravity and human limitations alike. These kids were fantastic athletes and acrobats.

After a while I was exhausted from watching them perform seemingly impossible feats that defied the laws of physics. About that time, one of them checked his watch, grumbled something, the group grabbed their gear and rode on.

I’m guessing they went to ball practice, where parent/coaches ran them through some simple exercises, ball practice, strategy training, then gave them a pep talk about athletics, and sent them on toward home. 

A few hours later, I was driving past the same spot where they had skated earlier, and found the same pack of youngsters performing feats that their coaches probably had no idea they were capable of. I just had to pull over and watch them again ... occasionally shaking my head and grinning as they came crashing down from a failed stunt.

Most of the time they were able to turn in midair and land on their feet or roll out of it. I remember when I could do that, but that was then and this is now.

I must confide that I am extremely proud of these kids, and for very good reasons. They have taken something — which began when I was their age — to a whole new level of skill and courage.

When I was a lad, just beginning to attain some degree of skill on a surfboard, we didn’t have wetsuits. We just got really cold out in the water and turned fascinating shades of blue.

During the cold-water time of year, it wasn’t safe to spend long periods of time in the surf. We wanted to practice our moves, and keep in surfing shape, so we snagged thin boards, tore apart skates (with apologies to my little sister who missed her skates, but got new ones out of the deal), and mounted the trucks and wheels on the bottoms of pieces of wood.

We skated around and practiced the same moves we used on our surfboards, allowing us to be better surfers.

It wasn’t long before wetsuits became available, which were appropriate for surfing sports. Meanwhile, we had grown attached to our skateboards.

About that time, smaller and lighter surfboards became popular, and we were out there carving the faces of big tubular waves. Suddenly our skateboarding needs changed dramatically. We found ourselves looking for empty swimming pools, half-pipe ramps and other rideable surfaces, resembling wave faces.

Riding skateboards became a sport unto itself during those days of learning what was possible. New designs came out that helped us push the envelope and ride more creatively.

The story of skateboarding has progressed incredibly in the intervening decades. While we do have skateboard parks now, I think this sport — which takes astounding skills and dedicated practice — deserves more appreciation and accommodation from us. These kids rock!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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