Belgium X-Beach Write Up…
words by Jon White…
X-beach 2008 was a memorable yet generally chaotic affair. This time round, we knew what to expect. More or less. However the credit crunch had taken its toll in the UK and our numbers had been depleted. This year, Just 4 riders travelled across the channel. Me, Simon Johns, Colin Horan and Paul Nash.
Simon picked me up on Friday morning, where we went to Tesco to buy a tent, a loaf of bread and a pack of ham. This would be my breakfast, lunch and dinner for the weekend. We drove onto Reading and met Colin and Paul, then it was off to Dover. We missed our ferry but got on the next one, where we were entertained by a woman unable to do a hill start on the ramp. On the ferry, we watched as Paul enjoyed some very expensive fish and chips then took care of the important things (Kronenburg) courtesy of duty free. We landed in France then drove onto the town hosting X-beach, Koksidje, the pronunciation of which is still under debate.
We managed to find the campsite and setup without too much difficulty, then we took a stroll into town. While checking out the temporary skate park that the contest was to take place on, we bumped into Germans Kai, Gotthard, Georg, as well as Fred, owner of Streetboard lowlands. Fred managed to get us wrist bands to get into the beach party. The rest of the night was a bit hazy, but it involved a club on the beach we got kicked out of last year, tequila shots and waking up Simon.
Saturday saw the competition kick off. Simon was first in the park, and it wasn’t long before Jeroen Haers, one of Belgium’s few native street boarders, along with the Luxembourg crew, showed up and got the session underway. Simons early bird ethic paid off with a transfer from driveway to disaster board slide on the triangle rail. Pretty soon, the Germans arrived to show everyone how its done. Anyone who has seen Gotthard skate a down rail will know there are few words that can describe such a spectacle. Tricks most wouldn’t even imagine trying, perfectly executed, complete disregard for what stance he is riding. Some of the highlights for me were 270 – switch backside nosebluntslide, switch 360 – 50-50, and the driveway to triangle rail gap with a front side blunt slide. Georg recently starred in the triple G video, “Railiocentric,” where he killed every rail in the video. He didn’t disappoint this time round either, with kink 5-0’s, nose grinds, front board slides and big 360’s on the quarter pipe, landing everything solidly. Kai flowed around with his trademark style, doing smooth manuals and grinds. Simon Stepped up to the represent the UK and Wales with nose grind-lip slides, 5-0 lip slides along and down, as well as other rail trickery.
The skate park attracted a big crowd of onlookers, but the guy on the mike had trouble motivating them. The only guys making any noise were the Luxembourg crew, maybe it was just a language barrier. When we had all had enough, we went down to the beach and had a swim in the sea. Colin managed to get sand in his kingpin and bearings, a problem I would soon encounter. As the sun set, Me, Colin and Simon snuck off to skate a sketchy handrail on a sailors memorial. I honoured the seamen with a board slide.
On our return to the skate park, we found an ambulance attending a girl who’s foot was facing the wrong way round. She had fallen off her skateboard and dislocated her ankle. It was Paul’s turn next, falling off the ramp while doing a quarter to bank transfer, landing awkward and hurting his shoulder. Us Brits went back to the camp, then off for food. On arriving back in town, Our collective phones had failed and we found ourselves unable to contact anyone. We headed to the club on the seafront, where we had a few Stella’s then scoped out some potential street spots before going back to the camp.
When Colin told me to pack light I probably took it to far, bringing no sleeping equipment. I used Simons board as a pillow, which was surprisingly comfortable (Sergitel for those interested.) After shivering myself awake Kai treated me to some of his special orangensaft, then we headed into town for coffee and day 2 of the competition.
Sunday saw a bigger crowd and sicker tricks. Gotthard stepped it up a gear, with a kink crook – bluntslide, rodeos on the quarter pipe, and a misty flip out of the skate park, landed first time. G also tried all manner of ways to get speed to disaster grind, eventually settling on a pull from Kai, then sessioned the disaster gap from driveway to little rail, getting a 270-switch bs nose blunt. Simon Disastered the driveway ledge, and did a smith-nose grind-lip along and down the rail. Georg also took a pull onto a kink backlip, then followed it up with bs 180-switch 5-0 down the rail.
Skating the park could be difficult at times, with the big beach tent next to us being dismantled, and great sheets of plastic pulled across the park. At one point, Colin went up the quarter pipe, and came down to find a big plastic sheet blocking his path. After awhile, we went and inspected the remains of the beach tent, which had an abundance of obstacles we tried to skate. We set up a ramp to bench, which we sessioned with manuals and gaps. Colin was trying huge bs 180’s off the bench, but he stopped after snapping a plank of decking in half. We were then moved on by security, but not before helping ourselves to cans of red bull that was left in the fridges.
It soon came down to judging, and each rider voted for the top 3 positions, with prize money of 500 euros donated by Fred. In 4th place came Simon Johns, winning a kebab. 3rd went to Kai, 2nd to Georg and no surprises for Gotthard in 1st. While most people went down to the beach, me, Simon and Colin said our goodbyes then went for a street skate. I skated some C rails in town, curving various board slide-danishes. We went for a drive and found a car park with some narrow concrete barriers. It was Colins turn to throw all kinds of pastries out of board slides here. Expect street footage to appear in the DAYONE video, keep your eyes peeled people.
On our arrival back in town, we were unable to locate Paul. We felt surely this would be the first mishap in an otherwise well planned, successful weekend. Streetboard events are not known for their smooth running. Luckily, with not long to go until our ferry Paul arrived and we made haste to France. The journey back involved a lot of sleeping, but was relatively quick and without any problems. We arrived back at Colins in the early hours of the morning and went our separate ways.
Thanks go to Fred for organising the competition and putting up so much prize money, to all riders and friends who came and Colin for doing all the driving. See you next year, X-beach 2010.