WORDS & PHOTOS David Marano
While surfing was the main impetus for my recent visit to Puerto Rico, checking out and shooting some pics at the Guajataca DH race was definitely on my list of things to do . As you can imagine, there’s more than a few hills to bomb and skateparks to shred throughout the mountain terrain and aqua hued coastline of the island. If you have the time to explore PR you’ll most likely shit yourself with excitement at both the skate and surf spots you’ll find—just look back on William Royce’s Instagram feed to see what’s out there to shred. Anyway, even though I was staying with a group of surfers while in PR a connection between surf and skate is clearly visible. Locals have mini-ramps in their backyards and skate em’ or hit the hills whenever the waves are flat—most just strictly skate and surf for the fuck of it. And that’s rad in my book!
What I witnessed in PR from both surfers and skaters was a good amount of local flavor charging with minimal fear. Maybe it’s the reef terrain of the ocean floor they grow up surfing or the crazy-ass local drivers on all the roads they skate that helps to foster this certain fearless style of riding? Byron Essert explained this about the local DH skaters in PR:
…(Puerto Ricans) skate close and fast, which leads to many gnarly situations. Whatever Puerto Ricans’ have in their blood, it’s a fun thing to watch! – Byron Essert
I do have to say, the Guajuataca DH, 2015 race is a complete shit-show. Ha ha! A wait-time of at least 30 minutes between every heat, random runs of various dudes racing down the course with Puerto Rican flags in hand, 14 year olds guzzling beer and rum without a care in the world, food stands offering fried whatever, and a hyped up Kai Monroe running around all add up to a out-of-control atmosphere. The amount of spectators this event brings out is amazing though—nothing like I’ve ever seen at a downhill event in the US or Canada. It’s rad to see skateboard racing so appreciated in the Puerto Rican community for sure.