This past January, myself, Sam Beckett and Ryan Gray were lucky enough to shake off the post-Christmas winter blues with a fortnight in California chasing the dream. As Sam spends parts of the year out there, we were given an insight into this side of his life whilst shooting for his Vans Excursion project. The trip came as a bit of a double edged sword of both stoke (it’s every skateboarder’s dream to spend sometime in the hub of it all) and anxiety (as my wife was expecting our baby boy just six weeks after the trip and I was well aware that premature labour could be a reality and that I’d be 6,000 miles away).
Things in California are obviously very different to things here in the UK. With Ryan and Sam flying over to the US a few days before me, it was on from the moment they picked me up from San Diego Airport. Over our two weeks out there we headed to some of the most iconic ramps, ditches, bowls and full pipes that have ever been committed to film or magazine and bumped into or spent time with some of the biggest names in the vertical game. You literally can’t go to a Starbucks in Vista without seeing Bob Burnquist or Steve Caballero waiting for a caffeine hit in the queue, it’s completely surreal.
As covered in our recent interview with 80’s vert heavyweight Lucian Hendricks, backyard vert ramps in the UK are as rare as rocking horse shit and usually last a few months at best due to direct action by local councils. So when we had the chance to take in Mancha’s ramp, a lofty structure nestled between houses in a quiet suburb of Vista, it was quite a culture shock. This photo was a welcome break to the standard vantage point offered up by a vert ramp and being able to isolate Sam in the sky is what made the session for me. Bonus points if you can name the onlooker.