News, Longboard, Interviews

Longboard Athlete Daniel Hawes Interview


We asked Longboard Rider Daniel Hawes the questions that you are curious about.

Could you briefly introduce yourself to us? Where were you born and what are you doing as a profession?
Sure! My names Daniel Hawes and I'm the ripe ol' age of 35. I was born in Australia, left there at about the age of 19 to galavant around the world skating down hills until about the age of 28. I finally stumbled upon New Zealand and being the closest thing I could find to Hawaii (but actually allowed to stay in the country for more than 3 months) I set up camp here. Right now I own and operate a business called 'Small Kine Ding Repairs' where I repair and make surfboards. I also run a ''skate school'' at my local skatepark every summer season with the wee groms. That's been going for 8 years now!

daniel hawes longboarding

What influenced you to start longboard sport?
Daniel: O man, that goes back a ways in time but essentially at about the age of 17 I started working for a company called 'Greening Australia'. I worked with an absolute legend who was my age named Elliott Hunt. I had skated street and park my whole life but for the few years before I worked with G.A, I had lost contact with all my crew which left me skating alone. The boredom of skating alone meant that I really only used my board for transport. Elliott told me about longboarding which I had never heard of back then, he took me on a few skates in some parking garages and some dodgy suburban roads. Keep in mind, this is all pre Youtube, facebook, internet, all that nonsense.

Concrete Wave magazine released a DVD with it's last issue each year. It was a compilation of all the global companies footage from the year, they would edit maybe a 10 minute video out of all their footage from that year so with all the companies combined that would create about a 1 hour long DVD. Still, Elliott and I and his two mates didn't know about that yet so we were totally in the dark to what was happening around the world. All we had was one Sector 9 DVD called 'the short bus chronicles'. We watched that DVD til it didn't work anymore.

Eventually we found another small crew of guys in (R)adelaide who were skating parking lots as well. Initially we wanted to fight them and claim the parking lots as our own but it turned out, they were a small crew of lovable nerds (Leigh Griffiths, Michael Bowditch and Matty Leadfoot) who were pretty hard not to love. They were way more sophisticated than us. We were only buying these standard, off the shelf sector 9 bamboo pintails from our local surf shop. These guys were ordering Kebbeks and Landyachtz from Canada, crazy trucks, wheels and even had motorbike leathers. I remember going to skate a hill with them for the first time (I won't name drop the place but lets call it 'eagle') and they were skating on a road with corners, in leathers. It was just like the concrete wave magazines and that was that, I was sold and every weekend the 4 of us would be at 'eagle' from dusk til dawn.

Elliott never came, I dunno if he was scared or just too cool for school but he kinda fell away from it not long after that. He sadly took his life some years later, after I had already moved to Finland to be with my then girlfriend Julia. The last thing he ever said to me was ''you owe me a hobby''. I'll never forget that, or him. I wish he had stuck with it, travelled and raced with me. He really did give me downhill skating as a gift, it shaped my life in my 20s. The places I went, the people I met who became my family, all over the world, even friends I hold dear to this day. He was the catalyst for all of it and I will always be eternally grateful to him for that. He was my best mate and I think about him often.

daniel hawes rayne longboard

What is your opinion of the longboard skateboarding media in the world?
Daniel: I'm pretty out of touch with it all now. Probably around the time Skatehouse media stopped producing content is about the time I got over watching downhill stuff. I'll still watch anything Kevin (Reimer) posts though because if he's posting it, it's gnarly. Other than that, I watch the odd video from an event I used to love, something like Kozakov but more just to see if I can pick some faces of people I love out of the crowd. I don't have a lot of contact with people from my old life anymore but it's always really nice to see their faces, even if only for a couple of seconds. They know who they are and they always have a mate in NZ!

longboard rayne daniel

What advice do you have for newcomers to longboarding?
Daniel: Be careful.
Love the learning experience.
Wear padding on your ass.
You're a grom, expect to be picked on.
Get them back by beating them down the hill (they pick on you because they love you).
Don't stop skating parks, especially transition. Infact, for every hour you longboard, skate a bowl for the same amount of hours.
Have fun and don't get hung up on sponsorships and crap like that.
Take every offer to sleep on a couch, no matter where you are in the world.
If you don't think you can handle the road, just man up, admit it and sit this one out.
Let it be the most important thing in your life but, don't let it define you as a human. One day you'll find a new love in life and it will be hard and painful to let go of longboarding if you let it become your entire identity. Use other hobbies as ''cross training'' to help you get better at downhill but also to find new people and enjoyment outside of longboarding.

daniel hawes downhill

What is your favorite Longboard move?
Daniel: Hızlı ve güzel bir yoldan inmek.

What are your favorite longboard spots to skate?
Daniel: Too many to choose from. The first ever Verdiccio race in Italy was an epic road, Kozakov used to scare me to race on but just skating it was super fun. All our go to spots in (R)adelaide like C.S and Wardhay. Night runs on the mountain in O'ahu. Ruapehu, that one that starts at like the German and Italian border I think (?), the alps in general, Switzerland, Vancouver alleys. I've skated a lot of roads, it's hard to pin point one spot.

Which Longboard move was the most challenging for you?
Daniel: Either footbraking when I was first learning or toeside checks. Fun story. Skating the snowy mountains once, way back when, my second ever trip for skating I think. I didn't know how to footbrake, none of the roads we were skating in (R)adelaide required braking. Get to the snowy mountains, they require braking for sure, especially with a crew of like 20 odd people. I could do a big pendulum slide though which was a fairly new thing, at least on our side of the world. So I started doing them before corners which lead to a lot of the O.Gs back then (Daddow, Leeso, Yates and some others) telling me off and insisting I skate at the back of the pack from now on. The next year, Louis (Pilloni) and James (Kelly) go to some race in France I think (no one had ever heard of these dudes before) and start busting out speed checks on every corner. I think Louis won it in the end and James did pretty bloody well too. People were tripping because no one had really seen it before, at a race at least. So, from that moment onwards sliding was all the rage, foot braking was a lame thing that only the Swiss Robot, Mischo and some tripped out Europeans did and within 3 or 4 years nobody knew how to bloody footbrake and if they did dare footbrake, everyone would bitch about them doing it. I remember having heats and seeing some guy in the line next to you with a foot brake sole on his shoe and everyone was like ''aww man, a footbraker, stay away from that guy!''. Is it still like that? Essentially what I'm telling you is that I invented sliding before corners in the snowy mountains in like 2012 or something like that and because those O.G Aussies stifled my creative freedom I never got to show the world. That's my version of events anyway and I'm sticking with it!

What other sports do you do besides longboarding?
Daniel: I don't longboard at all anymore now, though I still own leathers and a bunch of boards. I surf, I skate the park a bit but really just cruise it. I play a lot of chess and try to go bouldering once a week.

What is the biggest longboard project that you have ever dreamed of?
Daniel: OK, here it is. If someone wants to do it, this is my idea which I think would summarise, at least my experience of downhill as best as is possible. So, lets say the first world cup race of the year is in Australia, Bathurst let's say. The film starts by meeting an Aussie, getting to know them, their life, work, skate spots, friends, the whole thing. Eventually it's race time, we follow our heroes race and results but, we also get introduced to our next character and overseas friend of our first hero, maybe it's a skater from Canada. We follow them to the next race, let's say it's in Braaaaazil. We follow them as they check out Brazil, keep up with their race results but also get introduced to another skater, some Italian maybe? Follow them to the next race in the next country before meeting our next skater and following them. On and on for the whole tour this goes. By the time we get to the last world cup race of the year, we have met and followed a new skater from all different countries, all around the world and then we meet up with our original Australian skater, bringing the whole thing full circle. Giving a glimpse into the range of people, personalities, what these people do for work, why they do what they do, who do we love, who do we love to hate, who wins, who loses, who gets injured, what amazing towns in strange countries does the tour take these folks? If someone made it, i'd watch the shit out of it. I pitched that to Pat (Switzer) once, after he finished making 'Greener Pastures'. He never called me back, that kombucha drinker.

To sum it up, what would you like to say to Turk Longboard members about Longboarding?
Daniel: Dig it, love it, enjoy it. Don't die or break your back for it. Hold your friends very near, nothing lasts forever so enjoy all the time you spend with all those people and never turn down the opportunity to go skate a new spot in a new place. It will take you to the most random places in the world if you let it, places that no ordinary tourist would ever have a reason to visit and it will give you the highlights of your life.

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