By Dielle DSouza for BigRush
The bus trundled down the road towards the Arabian Sea, stopping at a blue and white shack topped with a wooden board that said ‘The Shaka Surf Club’. Out stepped 66 lively souls, eagerness plastered across their faces. This was where skate and surf would collide – in happy harmony.
The Vans Holy Detour is now an annual skateboarding tour that celebrates India’s DIY skate culture. The two days at Shaka Surf Club in Kodi Bengere on the coast of Karnataka was just one of the stops on the third edition of the tour that flagged off from Freedom Park in Bangalore and also included skate sessions at Cirrus and Alis Bowl in Goa.
From January 22-27, the skaters – a mix of 20 amateurs chosen from an Instagram skate contest and 16 pros – came together to share the stoke. It turned into a family that fed their love for wooden boards and crazy tricks with tons of fun and travel.
“The vibe was really great! The mix of BMX, tattoo, surfing, workshop and skateboarding was an epic combination that we managed to pull off. The best thing is that everyone also individually enjoyed themselves and was part of the tour,” says Somanna of Holystoked Collective, which organised the tour in association with Vans.
On the bus was jabber with roots from around the world, and across India – English, Danish, American, German, Aussie, French and Spanish got along like a house on fire with colloqualisms from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Pune, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Seema Andhra, Goa and even from the far reaches of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya.
It was a kaleidoscope of different styles, cultures and beliefs, brought together by a common love for skateboarding. “Even the music was chaos – front seaters were playing hardcore German music followed by some epic all-time favourite English tunes. The back seaters were going on with a hell lot of rap songs and rap battles. There was everything from Ata Kak, Dead Moon, old school sing-alongs, punk rock and jazz,” says Somanna.
As the tour bus left Bangalore, it stopped at the Vans store for some goodies – t-shirts for all and 10 pairs of Vans skate shoes. Of course, it wouldn’t be a pit stop without a skate session, so out came the portable ramps and the magic began.
Satiated – for the moment – the troupe made its way to The Shaka Surf Club in Kodi Bengere, where Tushar Pathiyan and India’s first woman surfer Ishita Malaviya were waiting. “The skate and surf communities have merged over time, so it was like meeting friends after a long time. We also met and made new friends on this tour,” explains Tushar. The surf club organised an orientation to the work they do, particularly with the local school.
They held a surf session on the beach and later went down to Orange Basket for the club’s first ever 60-person lesson. The fun quotient shot through the roof with the help of a megaphone courtesy veteran skater and Holystoked co-founder Poornabodh Nadavatt.
It was a fairly smooth transition from concrete to water for the skateboarders on the tour. Tushar recalls, “Some had hardly been in water before and may not have been comfortable, but we gave them special attention, and seeing everyone have so much fun, they soon got over it.
“Some of the styles of modern skateboarding have developed from surfing – the sort of flowing, lucid style. Also, skaters already know about balance, so they picked up surfing a lot faster than many of our other students do. We just had to get them on the board and pop up, but pretty much everyone was standing on the first day itself.”
Later, the tour headed to Manipal Institute of Technology where they set up ramps and sent onlookers into a tizzy with their tricks. There was free skating on one side, tricks on another, while some introduced interested spectators to the sport.
Tushar notes, “The guys went crazy! They were jumping off ramps, doing tricks. The crowd slowly gathered, and as it got bigger, the tricks got crazier.”
The second day at Kodi Bengere featured a long surf session before heading to the local surf club where Shaka teaches life guarding, water safety and eventually surfing. The little children from the village had never been exposed to skating before and were awestruck with what they saw.
At one point, Sanjay Rajpurohit of Mascot Bikes took centre stage attempting a bone-crunching trick off a six-foot wall. Tushar recalls, “He fell so many times and I just wanted him to stop, but he kept at it, egged on by the others. When he finally got it, everyone just erupted!”
Later that night was a screening of a skate film alongside the “best paani puri from Manipal”. Between a chilled out jam session and trips to the local Kendra Jatra festival on at Kodi Bengere at the time, the surf-skate stop at Shaka came to an end.
At 3.30am the bus left, headed up the coast for the touristy destination of Goa, stopping now and then for some highway skating. Sommanna says, “Karwar was one of our favourite highway stops. We were there for more than half a day and skated on the beach front. It was like an open-air stage.”
At Cirrus Skate Bowl in Anjuna, a raging session ensured the weariness of the bus journey was shaken off. They also skated at Alis Bowl in Morjim. The Goa sessions ended with a mini ramp jam and a best trick contest.
The Vans Holy Detour had participants from all walks of life on board, from doctors to software engineers to students and even tattoo artists. Mykel Kumar, owner of The Pumpkin Patch tattoo studio in Bangalore, says, “I have wanted to skate since I was 10, but was always afraid of falling and hurting myself in a way that might affect my work. But I finally got down to it last October, just shy of my 30th birthday, and now I love it!”
When he heard of the tour, he knew he had to be part of it. “Some of it was outside my comfort zone and I learnt how to deal with things,” he explains. He even got the chance to do some work. Following from Stuart – another tour participant from England who brought his equipment along and did a tattoo at Manipal – Mykel worked on the image of a shark for a client in Goa.
Tattoo apart, “the tour was amazing”, he says. “I learnt so many tricks and tips on how to be a better skateboarder. It was truly very inspiring.”
There’s a lot to look forward to from the people at Holystoked and the Vans tour – more work to be done, more skating and more stoke. Holystoked’s Amit Subba notes, “We think Mangalore definitely needed a spot. We had two demos there and the amount of people who showed up was crazy! There were lots of kids and youngsters. I also feel Goa needs a larger spot for sure, with the tour getting bigger and bigger every year.”
The crew will soon release a video of the tour on their Facebook page.
Catch the latest in the world of adventure sports on the BigRush Facebook page.