Surf skating has swiftly soared to popularity over the past year in Thailand, overtaking our Instagram feeds and TikTok. It has become so influential that nearly all the malls and other shopping outlets like night markets have made accomodations for skating. While it may seem pretty novel right now, surf skating is actually nothing new, derived from surfing culture as a means for surfers to hone their skills when there were no waves. So why suddenly now is it the hot new hobby for Thai city dwellers. We ask four surf skaters about how they got into the sport and other thoughts on the viral trend.
“I feel so free when I surfskate. I’m totally in control of it. There’s no engine. It’s just a board with wheels, and it’s all on you,” explains Athiya “View” Satapattanasook. Rewinding back to the beginning of her relationship with surf skating, things weren’t all rose-tinted from the get-go. “I thought it was too mainstream,” she laughs. View ignored surf skating until her close friend invited her to try it and like a true friend, she entertained. “From the moment I stepped on the board, I fell in love with it. I immediately bought a board for myself. It was so much fun!”
View says it’s an activity for everyone. “I see young kids all the way to adults with grey hair enjoying it”. She assumes the trend started from Thai celebrities who were posting their surf skating videos on social media. View’s recent trip at Khaolak, Memories Beach—a popular surf spot— further shifted her view of surf skating from what it initially was. “Over there, it’s like they were born with it and use the board like it’s a part of their body,” she explains. View now sees surf skating as a lifestyle rather than a mere hobby. “There wasn’t a day that went by without surfing. Their routine was waking up, surfing in the morning, surf skating in the afternoon, and surfing again in the late afternoon. That’s a lifestyle, isn’t it?”
Chanupan “Title” Peyavaja skates all the time and got introduced to the surf skating variant through one of his friends. Title shares, “I must admit, surf skating seemed pretty easy to me since skateboarding was already a hobby of mine. Once I started doing turns though, I fell a number of times and realized it wasn’t as easy as I initially thought it would be.” He hasn’t stopped surf skating since, but what has perhaps fascinated him more than the moves are the boards themselves.
“Surf skating isn’t just a sport for me. It’s a type of art, too. All the boards are unique and different. They all have their own designs and texture.” This sentiment is driving up the price of the hobby as fast as its rise to popularity. Title has decided to get into the business of selling surf skateboards, and he’s loving it.
One reason he believes surf skating is such a big trend in Thailand is that it’s perfect for beginners and people who aren’t fully committed to extreme sports like regular skateboarding. “Almost everyone is able to do it,” assures Title. Celebs on social media only make it seem easier. Title also cites COVID-19 as setting the stage for people to go nuts over a new, fun hobby.
With an existing love for wakeboarding, Passamol “J” Vasoontararat’s surf skate journey started at the beginning of 2020, when the first wave of COVID-19 hit Thailand. “My normal routine was going wakeboarding every Sunday, but when there was a complete lockdown, the wakeboarding park had to close temporarily,” J shared. That was when she had to look for an alternative without having to rely on specific venues. “Since my passion is wakeboarding, I looked for other kinds of similar sport and found a surf skating video on the internet.” The more she watched videos of people surf skating, the more her interest grew. “I finally decided to get my first board in May 2020 and I have been surf skating ever since,” says J.
J believes that everyone can surf skate. “I think what has made it so popular is that it looks cool and isn’t so difficult to take up.” Like the others we interviewed, she also cites Thai celebrities as having a lot to do with setting the trend in motion. J loves the thrill of surf skating and challenging herself. “Once I was able to do the basics, I moved to the next level, like skating on a pump track or a bowl. It’s a sport for sure, you get to exercise a lot with surf skating.”
It was more about timing for Issariya “Mook” Wetchaphong. “The first time I ever saw surf skating was from Toey Jarinporn’s Instagram. It looked like so much fun and I was so eager to try it. I would say that it was not a trend yet at the time,” says Mook. Having received a surf skateboard as a birthday gift from her boyfriend, Mook’s starting point was quite simple. “I learned to surf skate with my friend and continued by myself.” She adds, “I may not have as much experience compared to other skaters, but I started to love it and I am enjoying it more each day.”
When asked how she thinks surf-skating blew up, Mook says, “I think there are multiple factors of why surf skating became viral—because of lockdowns, people being desperate for something fun to do as well as celebrity culture.” Besides exercising, Mook loves meeting new people through surf skating and compares the activity to a sort of remedy for stress. “I call it surf skating therapy,” shares Mook.