Adam Yates: Skate and Explore

Adam Yates tells us about his new role at landyachtz, #skateandexplore and longboarding around the world – from South Africa to Taiwan. Good vibes galore!

aRAD_9122Good morning Adam, how are you?
Gbemi, good man, just back from the beach with the hound, early morning surf check. 

Fun weekend ahead?
If you know me, I can’t sit still dude. I dunno what’s on the cards but it’ll be something outdoors on a board or a bike! 

What board did you find first?
I’ve always been a water baby. Since I was a hell grom, the oldies had me down the surf, teaching me how to read the ocean, and stay safe in the water. As I grew, it was natural that I wanted to get out in the surf and ride craft so I guess it was surfboard for the win. Later, skateboards became the device to get me to the waves.

Where are you from?
Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, ‘Straya mate. 

What sort of skateboarding were you doing in the beginning?
It was all on a longy man. I think I made most of my first boards on the cheap with some flat ply. I’d run indy’s like over 200’s with Kryptonic Classics. Chill.

Was it hard to get boards in Oz back then?
For sure. I guess back in those days there was only a portion of what’s available in todays market. Early Skateboards where manufacturing longboards locally here in Burleigh Heads. They did it all. Surfed, skated downhill and bowl. They had a shop out the back of a surf shop where all the skateboards got made. They even had a mini ramp! 

Sounds like the Zephyr shop!
Yeah in some ways I guess that you could compare the two. In a different time and place. Local surfers, expanding into a skate lifestyle, experimenting with different things leading to what would be seen as the origins here in Australia.

Are concrete waves/hills your favourite now?
I froth on getting down and trimming lines in a big concrete bowl/pool, or finding that long winding road with tight bends and mondo features, but its hard to compare to the pure feeling of being in the water. I need waves man. 

When did you find the skate community?
I found the Early Skateboards family in late 2000, after seeing them on the local news before the surf report. They were doing hands down slides, imitating the OG Larry Bertlemann and Cliff Coleman. It was surfing on pavement. I couldn’t pass up meeting these guys!

What is an Early Skateboard?
Early Skateboards was a local company started by Jeremy Rodgers. He supported the local community big time. Without Early Skateboards and the platform they provided as a family, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

We would session everything from drains to ditches, driveways to skateparks, and all the hills in-between. It didn’t matter what time of day or night.

aRAD_9460How did meeting the crew impact the skater you were?
It was a game changer. I didn’t know anything till I met these guys. We would session everything from drains to ditches, driveways to skateparks, and all the hills in-between. It didn’t matter what time of day or night either. I was the grommet. I just looked up to the lads and wanted to be like them. It was just progression. Life’s a challenge. A never ending lesson. Simple sayings like “Monkey see, monkey do” and “Small steps lead to big things” definitely helped guide me.

Simple sayings like ‘monkey see, monkey do’ and ‘small steps lead to big things’ definitely helped guide me.

Who else was shredding in those days?
Like I said, I was the grom, green as. The guys doing the shredding were Jeremy Rodgers, Stephen Daddow, Ray “Mondo” Bleakly, Trent and Michael Vernon, Andrew ‘Tanga’ Tangatatoa, Angus ‘Gusto Hamilton, Sunny Coast Josh, Jason Acott, Paul Fisher, Aaron Poindexter.

Do you still skate with any of them?
The boys all have families and businesses and I travel a heap these days as well, so, trying to get a session proves to be a challenge but we do get out as much as we can. Sessions are mostly based out at Jeremys house at his mini ramp. Skating is in their blood, so it’s never too hard to entice them.

What adventures did you have in those early days?
Its hard to pin in on any one adventure. As a young pack of frothers we did it all! I remember on one occasion we jumped in the car and drove all night, 12 hours to Sydney, to shred down there for a skate video. It was all old school stuff. They didn’t exactly know how to take our “slide” style!

I remember on one occasion we jumped in the car and drove all night, 12 hours to Sydney, to shred down there for a skate video. It was all old school stuff. They didn’t exactly know how to take our “slide” style!

What was Sydney skating like then?
I guess it was pretty chill. There were a lot of bowl/street skaters down in Sydney, always has been. There was a pretty rad community of slalom and ditch skaters that we hung out with as often as we could. These guys could see the potential for the sports future and worked damn hard creating a group known as ASRA (Australian Skateboard Racing Association) and this proved to be the spark the community needed. 

How did that spark change the scene?
They offered support for the community and a platform for events to be run smoothly and professionally. ASRA provided things like Insurances to Online Trees (spreadsheets) for competition. Races started popping up all over the place. Not just Downhill but Slalom and Ditch races as well. With this growth, a points system was created so that using ASRA’s platforms, a winner could be granted at the end of a season.

Which races were you participating in?
Anything I could. I did a heap of slalom races in those days. It would be many years later, 2008, when the IGSA would decide to have a World Cup event in Australia, Bathurst, Mt Panorama.

Did the structure help you as a skater?
Structure has nothing to do with making u a better skater. What it did provide were fair brackets, meaning that the best riders were there at the finals and every rider got a lot of time on the hill.  

Who’s behind ASRA?
Presently there is Colin Beck, Haggy Strom, Dave Robertson.

Are you involved?
I’m always involved in some way shape or form but not on a level where credits due. That’s all for the top dawgs. The guys running ASRA are also key players in the IDF committee, meaning its all go, all the time.

What were the first events you went to?
Aside from a few of the smaller local events that were being held here in Australia, the first serious event was Hot Heels in Cape Town 2003. This was the first time I’d worn leathers and a full face helmet!

Wow! What took you all the way to Africa?
In those days, I didn’t know too much of what racing Downhill was. I was still super green. I guess I went there for the experience and to test my skill against the worlds best.

Did you enjoy your time there?
It was infectious. After seeing legends like Tom Edstrand, Darryl Freeman and Stuart Bradburn, race in such a professional manner, opened my eyes to a whole new lifestyle. Its gotta be a good thing when the people you meet are friends straight of the bat. Most of the people I met there in 2003, remembered me 11 years later, when I went back this year! I love this skate family!

What was it about that lifestyle you wanted?
Honestly mate, I think it was just the fact that everyone was so happy and stoked to be turning wheels with old and new friends. Surround yourself with the things that mean the most to you!

Surround yourself with the things that mean the most to you!

What did it take to get it?
Life’s all about sacrifices! I had to leave my life here on the sunny beaches of the Gold Coast and move it to the colder, wetter climates of the Great White North. My new home for the next few years was to be Vancouver, Canada!

Were you a different skater when you got back to Oz that year?
I was a small fish in a large tank full of sharks over there. Theres no choice than to step up and get ‘er done. That’s the Canadian way. Yeah, I was a very different skater. I was skating with Mike (McGoldrick) back in those days and as far as a complete skater went, I thought Mike was it! He killed it both ways and was always down to throw advice. That’s the beauty of the gig, the things you learn, you pass on to the next ya know!

When did you get to test yourself after that?
There’s my favourite hill here in Burleigh. Its steep and looks out over the point and the city scape of Surfers Paradise. I never thought about skating it in the “Stand-up” style but after returning from BC with this new technique, it was the place I knew I could really try out what I had learnt. I was stoked too, when it all fit together, back in the same place I had started it all, years earlier!

When did you decide to move to Canada?
Late 2008. 

What did you expect to find over there?
I’d visited Vancouver after Maryhill in 2007 and fell in love with the place and the community. Its such a beautiful city and the adventures are endless. Expectation is evil. I went there with an open mind! I think the best thing that I had found was how easy it was to get around. All you needed was a few bucks, a few beers and a skateboard and you could go anywhere and mash anything from 100km/h downhill in mass packs to jamming banks and knocking bins over in the alleys!  You can skate everywhere with ease!

Was the scene similar to back home?
Completely different. We had a tight scene of around 10 at home and there in Vancouver were many different little groups with a total community of well over 500. Chalk and Cheese mate!

What was it like being the new kid on the block?
It was great. All the crew really made me feel welcome so there was never an issue about feeling uncomfortable. It was a whole new lifestyle man, loved every minute of it! 

What adventures did you have with Mike?
Had a few. There was a few trips in the EH TEAM van out to the Sullivan Challenge in Kimberley. That’s a long one so stuff can get pretty fun just to break up the drive. Plenty of sessions in and around North Van. The skate house at the time there was Fern St. and It was a rad place to meet up and head out to the hills from there. The thing that Mike offered aside from his skating was his angle on the whole thing; there was always so much to do and it didn’t always have to be skating! 

What is the EH team?
That was the OG Landyachtz Team. “Eh” is a key part of the Canadian vocabulary and takes place of the word “Aye”! I guess its loosely based on the TV show “The A-Team” from the 80’s. The “Eh Team” van was the coolest out there and the first of its kind in the skate community. It was the same as the show, Big, black and tough with the red stripe down the side! We even had a PA inside that played the A-Team theme song for when we’d arrive at events and all pile out ready to kill it!

Haha. Who was Mr T?
Good question, I never thought to ask? Meatball? 

How long did you spend in the great white north?
The better part of 3 years. Winters were crazy cold and I love the surf too much so BC winters, I’d come home and run summer here in Australia! Endless summer dude! Actually its been nearly 7 years of chasing summer! 

Where were you living in Van?
East Van for Lyf! 

What gave you the biggest smiles while you were there?
There were many pitchers that definitely contributed to the smiles but I guess its the community and the surroundings mate. I love those guys. They’re family. Its my second home and in some ways I feel like there’s still a big part of me there in BC.

Were you the first Ozzie to move north for skating?
Could have been? I know that other ozzies have ventured out to spend time abroad. Jacko, Jackson Shapiera, spent a few months with Team Green on the Sunshine Coast the year before I moved. Probably between him and I for the first to move to BC for skating! 

What did living in North America open your eyes to?
They just did things completely different to what I’d experienced before. Everything was inflated. The communities, the brands, the events, the prize money, the skill level, the skateable terrain, the opportunity.

What’s your involvement with Landyachtz?
This year, I got offered a job on management as the International Marketing and Team Development guy. Stoked that I can have this lifestyle and call it a career. I guess the top dawgs at Landyachtz saw that I could offer something else to the industry and Im super privileged for the opportunity.

What will you be bringing to the table for your new role?
Without getting into it too much, I hope to build brand representation and help expose new talent in some of the regions of the world that don’t have as much access to media avenues! Its all about spreading the stoke, getting more crews turning wheels!

When did you guys first hook up?
I was first approached in mid summer, 2008 after the release of my BEAR Trucks ad in Concrete Wave.

Whatever you chose to do with your life, do it properly and give total commitment to it. Don’t sit and wait for the opportunity, go searching for it!

How hard is it to carve a career out in longboarding?
Its as hard as you want to make it. It’s just life mate. Whatever you chose to do with your life, do it properly and give total commitment to it. Don’t sit and wait for the opportunity, go searching for it!

What did it take to take your initial involvement with LY to the present promotion?
I guess I’ve always called a spade a spade and as the years went on, I took a different direction with my skating, moving away from racing and wondered if I could get out  and explore new communities and new terrain! I told the boys that I was happy to have my place for races given to the next in line ya know, sharing with those that wanted to compete. If it was possible to do a few trips of this nature I would be stoked. The crew at Landyachtz obviously had the same idea! Ryan Theobald threw the title “Skate and Explore” on the table and the rest is history.

Your new role sounds VLT inspired!
Its all part of the package mate! It’s been an absolute privilege to be part of the Landy family. Going new places, meeting new people and spreading the stoke! The GN family is blood now!

What places have you explored on your skateboard?
Earlier in the piece, I hit South Africa and trecked the Eastern Cape. I went through Europe to like 11 different countries, Norway being the favourite! I hit the road in Andrew Mercado’s Van from San Diego to Vancouver. New Zealand for the N-tense D-centz tours. Tasmania – Australia’s most southern state. Since the Skate and Explore idea kicked off, its taken me to many more. There was the Shredding North Tour that took me up the inner West Coast of the US, Shaka Zulu Tour – South Africa, China for the Longboard Festival, Blue Mountains – Sydney, Pemberton, Lillooet, D’Arcy trip, Too many to even think about throughout BC,  Philippines for VLT, and in more recent times, we are heading out on an Asian Invasion hitting China, Taiwan and South Korea.

Tell us some of the under exposed talents you’ve encountered on your travels!
Too many to list. There’s kids from everywhere that ooze talent. Whether its the control of rallying at speed, the boost they get out of bowls/ramps or the smooth flowing lines of just jamming down the burbs, there’s kids in every community that have what it takes!

What have you enjoyed most this year?
I don’t think i have enough space! The years been one epic journey after the other. I’ve mentioned in brief about the places I’ve travelled to and the people I’ve share these amazing memories with. To be able to travel and spread the stoke as part of the skate and explore movement, with new friends and old, is a nothing other than an a dream come true. Its the reason I started. To skate with as many people as I could, and ride the stoke!

What are your plans for the rest of 2014?
Well its winding down for the year 2014 and I can say that I’ve spent most of the year abroad.  Not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be doing this much travelling at this stage of my career. As for the future, I’m an open book mate, with a lot of pages left. Who knows how i’ll fill them!

What do you do when you’re not skating?
When I’m not skating, I guess its a mix of all the other things that make my life so bloody awesome. Surf, kite, hike, ride my motorbike, hang out with the hound, hang out with the Mrs, beers with buddies, lurk at the beach, read a bit, I love to climb trees, watch sports, play sports, stir the pot, get on the hat. Mate I could go on for days. Variety is key!

Pick 3 numbers between 1-20.
3, 9, can i say 0? Bet ya never had that one eh?

Haha sure.

3 – what crime are you most likely to go to prison for?
We aren’t all criminals down under mate. Some rules are made to be broken! BUFU CREW. 

9 – what would you choose as your last meal?
Sashimi. Fresh and simple! 

0 – If you could be the first to do anything, what would it be?
Breathe underwater, unassisted. Cure Cancer.

Yate Dawg! It’s been a lot of fun doing this. Thanks for sharing your story with me. Looking forward to paths crossing in the future.
For sure buddy, was a pleasure! The world’s an interesting place with endless possibilities. View it through open eyes, one step at a time and you’ll find the groove that fits the life you want! Thanks to all the crew that have joined me on this incredible journey and made my story matter! Mondo love!

All pictures by Jacob Lambert.




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