Although Ben is confident about the event, it’s not going to be an easy ride: “There’s definitely more pressure on the event itself, now it stands for being a WSL event. And having the WSL title on the line.”
But despite the pressure this event, along with the two other qualifying events in France, Skindog has the right attitude: “For me, I only go to these events with one thing in mind: I want to win. That’s what competing is about, really. I love to win, and that’s what I want to do.”
Although, winning never comes easy, even for the best, and as he puts it: “there’s going to be a really high level and lots of international riders, so it’s definitely going to be hard, but you gotta be in it to win it, haven’t you?”
I feel like using that platform to do that I was comfortable competing an I think it’s created a real strong force
Competing aside, it’s been a good year for Ben. He launched his own surfboard factory in January: “We built it out of shipping containers, it’s a recycled surfboard factory.”he laughs
Ben is shaping all the ‘Skindogs’ boards, and his business partner Jason Grey is the laminator.
When asking Ben about the factory, he was more than happy to express his excitement for not only this, but also good things to come:
“I’ve learnt a lot already, it’s something I love doing. Plus! I found out I’m going to be a dad again in September.”
“So yeah, things are moving quite quickly. I think the due date is on the same day as the last WSL meeting, so I don’t know what’s going to happen there . . . hopefully the baby comes early so I can still do the event.” he laughs
An exciting year for Ben, but alongside his personal endeavours, and the WSL event, there was a burning question that needed to be answered. Why longboards? And what makes this different from the shortboard tours:
“I think that it’s really difficult on the shortboard world tour, it’s so huge and the levels really high, and obviously it’s the same as the longboarding — the level is really high — but it’s not as big and there’s not as many people doing it.”
Ben expressed how he felt that Britain had a “strong longboarding heritage,” referring to the British longboard union; which he feels has given us a “strong backbone to British Longboarding, and that gave us a real platform to go onto the European scene.”
Which he feels we do really well in, and: “I feel like using that platform to do that I was comfortable competing and I think it’s created a real strong force.”
When Ben started surfing he originally was riding shortboards, before he discovered his passion for longboards. So what changed? “I still ride shortboards now, I just use to compete on shortboards a lot more, and obviously when you’re younger you’re a lot lighter, and you can surf conditions that now you find a lot harder. As I started getting older those conditions just made me not enjoy myself really when I was competing. I stopped enjoying competing on a shortboard, I didn’t stop enjoying riding a shortboard.”
So when exactly was it that Skindog had this realisation? “I really didn’t enjoy competing, so I started longboarding at events where the waves were small, and at events that I lost when I was like 15.
I lost on a shortboard, and obviously wanted to win an English title, so I did the longboarding and ended up doing quite well, and winning the juniors and the open. I really enjoyed myself, and thought this is wicked and competing became fun again.”
I love the fact that I can ride anything on any given day – there’s no rules to what we can and can’t ride it’s when we go surfing on a free surf basis.”
Ben went on to explain how longboarding seemed like the right step forward, even though as he puts it: “it seemed like a step backwards for a lot of people at that time; it’s like longboardings was an old mans sport back then.”
But due to the progression it has really allowed longboarding to show that it is on par with the shortboards, but at the same time has the grace an elegance that allows one to manoeuvre in such a way that is unattainable on a shortboard, and Ben Skinner is definitely one of the reasons so many British surfers are opting for the longer boards.
Not only will it be an incredible watch to see Ben try to hold on to his title, but it sounds like we’re in store for some quality longboarding from some of the worlds best at Boardmasters this year.
To find out more visit www.boardmasters.co.uk