For the love of skate in Del Mar

Wheeled street urchins and parents gather to grind and honor Jay Adams

Hopping a hood in Del Mar on September 12
  • Hopping a hood in Del Mar on September 12

Around 40 kids, teenagers, and parents showed up to the Del Mar Fairgrounds parking lot on September 12 to participate in “Surf the Pavement – A Resurrection of Style.” The event was held to celebrate skateboarding’s original form — freestyle skating on asphalt — and to honor the memory of 1970s freestyle skater Jay Adams, who died in 2014.

Participants ranging from six years old to adults and parents, had gotten ahold of invitations passed out over the past week at local skate parks.

A San Clemente-based skate company, Uniqueness LLC, organized the event. Owners Azia and his wife Heiress said the purpose was to give back and empower kids to be creative. “Everyone here is on different levels, and they should be loved for that,” said Heiress.

After an hour of freestyle skating, an informal competition was held on makeshift ramps, the stage’s staircase, and even over a car’s hood. When participants tried a move, whether they landed it or not, each skater was praised over the PA, followed with high-fives and hugs from Azia.

The teenaged skaters, normally too cool to smile, were all smiles during the contest, with continual praise from Azia as he encouraged them to try their tricks until they were successful.

While every skater received some kind of prize, first place went to Encinitas’ Jake Hofmann, 14, for his “You killed it attitude,” according to Azia. Aggressive rail and stair skater Riley St. James was awarded a second-place prize for his “gnarly tricks that brought the house down,” said Azia. Cardiff by the Sea’s Trevor Harrison (this author's son), 14, placed third with his “grasp of old-school skating that is now lost.” Each of the three received new skate decks and T-shirts.

To celebrate his recognition, St. James skated off a ten-foot-high platform, initially landing it, but cracking his old board. Azia said he planned to make the gathering an annual event at the fairgrounds.

Historical footnote: In 1975, the first-ever world championship skateboard contest, the Del Mar Nationals, was held at the fairgrounds. Fourteen-year-old Jay Adams and his teammates from Santa Monica, known as the Z-Boys, shocked the skating world and changed the course of the sport.

Adams and the Zephyr Surf Shop team skated aggressive street: power slides and grinds never before mastered in the San Diego skate scene. San Diego skaters stuck to the moves of the day, more gymnastic, such as 360s, handstands, and nose wheelies. Controversy erupted when the contest judges awarded the familiarity of the San Diego skater’s routines to the boos of the crowd.

The incident is correctly portrayed in the 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z Boys, which was later adapted for the 2005 Hollywood release, Lords of Dogtown. Both films were written and produced by one of the original Z-Boys, Stacy Peralta, who also participated at Del Mar in the 1975 championship.

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