Royal 70 Surf Havana Cuba
A Cuban collective creating opportunities for Cuba's youth with extreme sports, music and art.
“The thing that I hated in Barcelona is that nobody would talk to you,” Che said. “They’re all a bunch of pros, filming videos there, skating with their iPods on and not talking to anybody. That sucks. People are too concerned about how they can market themselves to be a professional and stuff like that. It’s turning into a job, and people are losing the passion.” A brilliant look into Cuba’s skate scene by Daniel Oberhaus for Vice Sports. It was high noon on a weekday in June, and I was sweating profusely as I fought my way through the dense, overgrown park that surrounds a massive sporting complex just south of Havana’s Vedado neighborhood. I was searching for Cuba’s only skate park, rumored to be somewhere in the area, but every time I approached someone to ask for directions to the patinodromo, all I got was vague hand gestures in contradictory directions. On the verge of succumbing to the heat and humidity, I heard the telltale clatter of polyurethane wheels on concrete. Pushing through the jungle scrub of palm and Marabou weed, I nearly fell face-first into an empty man-made pond. The patinodromo was in rough shape. Two thirds of it was unusable, covered in standing water and detritus. The remaining third was an amalgam of concrete ramps and benches, metal quarter pipes, pyramids, and a tower ramp. Murals and graffiti—mostly variations on the mantra “patina o muerte” (“skate or die”), a play on Che Guevara’s famous call to […]
Thanks to Rene Lecour at Amigo Skate Cuba Cuban state media recently announced new customs restrictions on the amount of items allowed in the country through commercial travel. While the government says that the new rule is intended to cut down on a growing black market that undermines recent economic reforms, many fear unintended consequences. For example, the fledging Cuban skateboarding scene relies on skateboards and gear brought in from the outside world. Skaters on the island feel that the new rule may change their way of life. It happened at 23 y G, an intersection in Havana, Cuba. It’s nothing much really. Just a few small benches spread out among scrawny trees that offer scant protection from the sun’s glare. But for one scrawny kid that day some 12 years ago, the humble parcel of land seemed like Eden. At age 13, Fernando Verdecia Maseda finally found some other skaters. Maseda would go on to become one of Cuba’s greatest skaters – but he had to emigrate to Miami to find widespread respect for his skills. Years earlier, Maseda first discovered skateboarding at his next-door neighbor’s house. The enterprising neighbor would let him play a half-hour’s worth of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for 5 Cuban pesos on a well-worn PlayStation. “In the beginning, I thought that Tony Hawk was just a character,” Maseda said through a translator. “But when I saw the real videos in the game of him, then I wanted to go out and do it.” Soon after, […]
Miles Jackson from Cuba Skate has to be one of the hardest working guys I know. He never f#@king gives up and this is why he is one of the most amazing guys in the international skateboarding community. This time he has teamed up with the legends from YMG Films to create some amazing footage with Cuba’s street-skating freaks. Check out this preview of their work…
One of Cuba’s most creative skaters and surfers, Yojani Pérez Rivera reflects on how he and his amigos are #livingoffthewall to make the most of the little they have. Mamerto, as he’s known around the island, is among the most active local skaters advancing Cuba Skate’s mission. Cuba Skate, an NGO created by American skater Miles Jackson, is in the process of creating a documentary feature following the lives of Mamerto and his scrappy crew, 23yG, to rally the international skate community around its goals: 1. provide much needed skate materials to the Cuban youth 2. renovate the only, dilapidated skateparks in Havana 3. establish the first skate shop in Cuba and foster a bilateral educational exchange between Cuban and American skaters Winning Vans’ #LIVINGOFFTHEWALL Contest would help us make the Cuba Skate documentary a reality and share Mamerto and 23yG’s story with the world. Thanks for your consideration!
I met Tomas Crowder a few years ago through working with the Cuban surfers and kids. His passion for supporting Cuba’s extreme sports were a true inspiration and still is today. The following is an interview from back in 2009 with ESPN and Skateboarding legend Chris Nieratko. Cuba Libre Tomas Crowder is an Argentinean filmmaker that garnered critical acclaim for “Surfing Favela,” his 2005 documentary about impoverished Brazilian surfers. It is by a sheer stroke of luck that I met and befriended him. A mutual friend at Red Bull, Peter Jasienski, had been working with Crowder on sponsoring his upcoming documentary, “The Other Ché,” about the Cuban skate scene and its unofficial leader, Ché Alejandro Pando Napoles. Inspired by this documentary about the difficulties confronted trying to skateboard in Cuba, I mentioned to Jasienski that I wanted to go there with some industry heads (The Skatepark of Tampa guys, Tod Swank, Scuba Steve, Zered Bassett, Ron Deily, Rick McCrank, Mike Anderson, Quim Cardona, Bryce Kanights and various wives and girlfriends). Watching the footage, we saw just how difficult it was to get any products into Cuba, let alone skate stuff. In the video, a kid breaks his board and has to nail and glue it back together using a 2-by-4 to hold the pieces in place. The effect of the U.S. embargo on Cuba is sad, most notably its effect on the children of the country. I am not in favor of children suffering for the sins of their fathers. […]
This story appears in ESPN The Magazine’s Feb. 17 Cuba Issue. NOT LONG AGO, surfers in Havana had to fashion boards out of plywood desks stolen from classrooms. Today they surf on fiberglass boards left behind by tourists and donated by pros. They buy wet suits on the black market. Economic changes are crashing into Cuban life like waves onto the rocks at the beach on Calle 70, one of Havana’s top surf spots. Small businesses are opening. A law that took effect in January eases restrictions on the sale of new and used cars — albeit at massive markups. Cuba won’t be mistaken for a free market any time soon, but it sits at the precipice of a new path. And Cuba’s small community of skaters, surfers and BMXers sits at the precipice of the precipice. They have made an imported culture their own. They ride Frankenbikes, assembled piece by piece over years, and skate with no aspiration for sponsorship or fame. To the international media, they’ve become both a metaphor for Cuba’s gradual opening — “Not even the Castros can keep out kickflips!” — and a symbol of its continued isolation: There are still more skaters than skateboards in Havana. But after spending five days on Havana’s action-sports scene, it’s tough to attach much political motive to its athletes. Five minutes into my first conversation with a lanky brown-haired skater named Raciel, who wears fake diamond earrings and has red kiss marks tatted up and down his torso, […]
Cuba’s Youth Start Their Own Revolution…on Skateboards By Andrew O’Reilly Published November 29, 2012 Fox News Latino Tucked in a remote corner of the city’s sprawling Parque Metropolitano, Yojany Pérez and other skaters are gathered on a hazy and humid afternoon at the bottom of a dried-up, concrete lakebed. Ramps, boxes and rails in all sorts of disrepair lay in a seemingly random order on the lake’s dusty floor, waiting for the skaters to ramp, grind and ride them under the blistering sun in Havana’s only skatepark. Like the ubiquitous late-50s Chevys and Fords still rolling around on Havana’s streets, the make-shift nature of the park is a potent reminder of the Cuban talent for reclaiming, refitting and refurbishing things. The park’s graffiti – nearly unheard of in revolutionary Cuba unless state-sanctioned – hints at the small freedom these skaters enjoy. “When I skate I forget the world, I forget the problems, I forget the hunger, the thirst,” said the 22-year old Pérez. In response to government control – where you live, whom you associate with, when you can travel – skateboarding has become a break for these kids from the constant panoptic eye of the regime. And it attracts new converts everyday. “It’s getting huge now, people are beginning to skate all over the island,” said Che Pando, a skater/tattoo artist regarded as the sport’s godfather in Cuba. Pando estimates that there are 1,000 skaters in Cuba, which may not seem like much. But considering the difficulty in […]
HAVANA – Some call Che Pando the godfather of Havana’s skateboarding scene, and the 40-year-old tattoo artist can still recall how tough things were in the 1980s when he and a handful of other pioneers first started shredding in public squares. Like listening to rock music in the 1960s, interest in such a uniquely American import marked the young skaters as socially suspicious, and sometimes for rough treatment by police and arrest, though their experiences were perhaps not all that different from confrontations between U.S. skaters and civic authorities concerned about the destruction of public property. “One time we were a big group of kids skating on the smooth floor in front of the Havana Libre,” Pando said. “The hotel security and the cops came running out.” “It was difficult because we were misunderstood by most people,” added Pando, who was named after revolutionary commander Ernesto “Che” Guevara. “They used to kick us out everywhere.” Attitudes have largely done a 180 ollie, to borrow the term for a popular aerial manoeuvr, and today a small but thriving urban tribe of pierced youths prowls Havana’s streets, looking to have fun and, just maybe, land the perfect trick. Familiarity has come through high-profile visits by professional skateboarders and brands such as Red Bull; a brief partnership with a local cigarette company that helped build a skate ramp, and a series of semi-sanctioned or at least tolerated trick competitions. A program documenting skaters’ lives even aired on state television, the official arbiter of […]
Yojani ‘Mamerto‘ Perez is a young surfer and skater from the suburb of Playa in Havana. Mamerto rips on both concrete and in the water and is destined to be Cuba’s next extreme sports freak. Check him out in this little Cubaskate film. Recorded a few years back by Miles Jackson at CubaSkate, it isn’t hard to imagine just how good Mamerto is today.