Longboard to freedom

Free ride... Kent Lingeveldt glides downhill on the road leading from Steenbras Dam, near Gordons Bay, in 2016.

picture: Trevor Rodney

The Mitchell’s Plain born skateboarder, boardshaper, photographer and founder of Alpha Longboards in Woodstock, says he has been a part of the industry since the age of 14.

When he was 13, he lived with his grandmother in Hanover Park with a cousin of the same age. And they were both skateboard enthusiasts.

Lingeveldt says he used to watch his siblings skate and deep inside he would say “I want to be able to do that”.

So, he went through his spare parts and managed to scrape together enough components to put together a complete skateboard.

It was at this point that he started skating “street”.

Street skating is the more popular and technical version of skateboarding that everyone associates with their notion of skateboarding, whereas longboarding is a longer board used for downhill skateboarding and classic cruising.

Lingeveldt was 14 when he put together his board from spare parts.

A year later, his family moved to Mountain Road in Woodstock and this was where he got his first real taste of downhill skateboarding, “because it’s one of the steepest and longest downhill roads in the area, even though at this point I was solely focused on street skateboarding and wanting to really excel at that.”

Lingeveldt says it was at this point where he also met Wayne Moses, who lived at the top of Mountain Road.

He says Wayne had learnt how to powerslide, which is the act of drifting a board sideways so that the wheels slide until it stops.

“This is all we did every day. I was lucky because I was a street skater who could also go fast. You have to remember at this point we were possibly the only skaters that we knew of that were focusing so much time and effort to downhill powersliding.

“Wayne was more technically-minded than me and he, more than me, would develop new powersliding tricks and we spent days working them out and attempting them. It was a great time,” he says.

Lingeveldt says he was focused on street skating even though he spent many a day working on his downhill skateboarding.

He says going into the city centre to meet other street skaters broadened his skate circle and he religiously spent every Saturday afternoon there.

“It was at Bong’s Skate Shop in the city centre run by legendary Cape Flats freestyle skater Errol ‘BONG’ Strachan where we would all meet up and then move to our skating location,” he says.

A couple of years later, in 1999, Lingeveldt saw a flyer for the inaugural Red Bull Downhill Extreme skateboard race in a surf shop window and he thought “I can do that”.

“How wrong I was. I got to the top of the hill, The Glen (Kloofnek Road down into Camps Bay) in my camo cargo shorts, T-shirt and mismatched protective pads and small street skateboard to the sight of imported international downhill racers in leather suits polishing their helmets. The combination of a lack of skill and confidence and too much Red Bull for the first time in my life meant I didn’t do too great but a great time was had and rad people were met.

“It was at this point that I decided I wanted to focus on downhill skateboarding,” he says.

Lingeveldt raced the DHX every year till the last event in 2002 and competed in the emerging local downhill skateboarding racing scene set up by the now defunct South African Gravity Racing Association (SAGRA).

“Not having much money meant that I could not afford the imported longboards of the time so I went to a hardware store, bought a cheap piece of plywood and shaped my first board from memory of an international competitor’s downhill skateboard.

“That was my first board and Alpha Longboards was born,” he says.

In 2004, he was given the opportunity to race in Europe and grabbed it with both hands. He has been attending events around the world ever since. In 2010, Lingeveldt posted a video on YouTube, with over 23 700 views, where he skates down Kloofnek into town. A risk many would rather shy away from, but this is what keeps him alive.