It's difficult to think of another brand-led event that better represents the ethos of 'giving back' than Vans Shop Riot.

It's one thing for a brand to pay lip service to the notion of supporting those who support them, but it's another thing entirely to facilitate (and pay for) shops from across the UK to spend a weekend in Cornwall skating, eating, drinking and generally having a merry old time.

With the above in mind, all praise to Ollie Wright and all at Vans for making this event happen year-after-year, for dealing with the vagaries of accommodating and herding groups of skateboarders around and, perhaps most significantly, for insuring that the whole thing is a massive laugh for all involved.

Big knuckles...

With the above out of the way: now onto the specifics.

We've made no secret over the years of the fact that we consider Vans Shop Riot to be one of the greatest events in the calendar.

Not only does it give skate shops a platform to show the strength of their local scene; it also creates a context where the many disparate groups of people who keep skateboarding in the UK alive and kicking on a regional level can come together and have a massive session as a collective entity.

It's this aspect of Vans Shop Riot that gives the event its energy and cultural significance, and it's the reason why we're there to witness it and get involved every year.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skateparl

2018 saw Vans Shop Riot hit its tenth anniversary so fittingly 14 skate stores from across the UK, (namely - Brixton's Baddest, Rule 1, Rockcity, CSC, Native, Kultivation, Flavour, Sessions, The House, Slick Willies, Route One, Black SheepThe Level and Skate Warehouse) descended en masse to Cornwall to enjoy a baking hot Bank Holiday weekend where their every need (other than Ibuprofen) was more than catered for.

Format-wise Shop Riot is pretty simple: each skate shop puts forward a 3-person team who get to skate as a group for 4-minutes with judging duties held down by Cornish mega-OG's Stu Titmus and Jody Smith, along with a third non-shop-affiliated judge, (in this case, some fat bloke from Yorkshire).

The Saturday prelims saw all 14 teams skating for a chance to progress into the 8 team final to be held on the Sunday. Pre-practice was pretty bonkers with locals leading the charge and dispensing lines knowledge to the vast majority of visitors who'd never been to the glorious Mount Hawke indoor skatepark before.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Josh Mayson

Notable tricks during practice and prelims flowed like Harbour IPA but a couple of name checks are necessary: Jasper Dawson-Clough for an array of invert obscurities including the one you can see below (plus an almost-landed Phillips 66 which is rarer than unicorn shit), The Level's Josh Gislingham for lip trick weirdness, and the combo of Daryl Dominguez, Kieran Waterton and Josh Mayson who were hitting the BMX back wall obstacle from the get-go with nothing more than minimum iPhone encouragement required to get them sparked.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Jasper Dawson Clough

Another one of the great things about this event is the diversity of styles and skill levels amongst the people involved - Shop Riot is a truly inclusive event in that respect. Yes, ultimately there are 'winners' but everyone is welcome to join in and everyone got their 4 minutes on the course to do whatever they wanted to rep their local store. When the 14-team preliminaries were out of the way - the 8 team cut for Sunday's semi's looked like this:

  1. Skate Warehouse
  2. Black Sheep
  3. Slick Willies
  4. The Level
  5. Route One
  6. The House
  7. Flavour
  8. Sessions

Last year's victors Skate Warehouse came out of the gate harder than anyone, smashing themselves into the number one qualification spot, closely followed by multiple previous year winners Black Sheep. Slick Willies and The Level definitely made their presence known too as Shop Riot rookies, Griff's nollie flip for Route One was too hot for Rye's camera to capture, and the inclusion of The House, along with the two local (Newquay and Falmouth respectively) shops Flavour and Sessions, put a cork in competitive proceedings leaving all and sundry to go mental during the pre-BBQ 'wind down' sessions.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Scott Palmer
Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Matt Beer

Vans had laid on a beach BBQ for the Saturday night so, after the post-prelim session finally died down, the entire crew headed for a nearby beach where yet more free food, free beer and general merriment laid in wait. Some of the 'athletes' may or may not have taken this opportunity to scupper any plans they had of winning the next day (not mentioning any names...The Level), whilst the more sensible took in the views, chowed down on free scran and watched in awe as one of the members of Brixton's Baddest crew did an impromptu Capoiera demo.

Finals Day

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark crew

Sunday was crew deep at Mount Hawke with everybody, (regardless of whether they'd made it through or not) rocking up in anticipation of what was looking like being a heavy day of ripping. It was pretty apparent straight away which teams had been strategic in terms of the previous night's consumption of beers and which hadn't with Black Sheep, Slick Willies and Skate Warehouse absolutely smashing it before things even kicked off. The Level's (AKA 'Team Hangover') strategy seemed somewhat different but, they are from Brighton after all, so if it works, it works I guess.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Daryl Dominguez

The semi's saw another fearsome session go down with Skate Warehouse once again qualifying in first, closely followed by Black Sheep and with London's Slick Willies and Brighton's wastemen filling in the 3rd and 4th spots. It was also good to see the shock on certain people's faces at witnessing the skating of some of the UK's newer (if you don't pay attention/never travel anywhere) rippers - in particular Brighton's own Dan Fisher-Eustance and Slick Willie's secret weapon Niall Gilroy who both blew minds.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark

Ultimately it was time for the Finals, and with the allocated time upped to 5 minutes per team and the judging criteria switched to 'full skate Nazi', things got underway to determine which of the top 4 would walk away with the 10th annual Vans Shop Riot title, 2 G's in prize money and an all-expenses-paid trip to the overall Shop Riot finals in Milan.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Dan Fisher-Eustance

First up were The Level whose tolerance to both lack of sleep and over indulgence finally seemed to be getting the better of them for the first half of their run. 3 minutes in though, led by Rooney's indefatigable ability to somehow land tricks whilst not being able to see, they managed to press X + top right and blast some bangers. Special mention to Mr Fisher-Eustance AKA 'DFE' whose switch repertoire got unveiled hard with switch Spanish grinds and switch hurricanes down the hubba, along with Shipman-esque frontside half cab flips and a brace of actually difficult body varial bangers. Rooney and Josh Gislingham held up the rear to put in an impressive performance before all three basically collapsed and began leaking beer.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Niall Gilroy

Next up were Slick Willies who continued their theme of all round ripping with Niall Gilroy (seen above) making a definite mark on proceedings, along with Josh Mayson's full-bore assault on the A-frame and Liam Courtnae gently tearing the course to pieces. Good lads these - stoked to see them get this far!

Which, inevitably, brings us on to the top 2 qualifiers and the two teams who looked certain to be battling it out for the top spot from the minute Shop Riot began - namely team Skate Warehouse and team Black Sheep. Both of these crews have heavy contest pedigrees (both individually and collectively) so it came as no surprise to anyone that when the pressure was on, both turned it up to 11.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark

To say that the eventual result was close would be an understatement and a half, but after checking and re-checking the score sheets countless times, previous winners Black Sheep took the top spot by a single, solitary point. Both teams absolutely smashed it though, and the roars of approval for both more than illustrated the hype contained within the finals. Massive big ups to Alex Decunha, Aaron Jago, Adam Keats, Jiri Bullin, Jordan Sharkey and Eddie Belvedere.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark
Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark

The post-finals hype led straight into a 30-minute Spitfire wheels best trick and highest kick turn event with Aaron Jago kicking things off with the 540 on the big quarterpipe that had eluded him in the finals proper. Attention shifted to the A-frame obstacle with all and sundry going at it hammer and tongs for the £500 cash prize. Too much went on during this chaotic session to even hope to mention here, but most of the bangers are in the edit at the very start of this piece.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Daryl Dominguez dinghy

The eventual winner though was Slick Willies shop manager and general top lad Josh Mayson, who managed to land (amongst other things) a 360 flip over to lipslide on the down rail and a nollie flip to boardslide following the same trajectory. Josh is a beast and is so polite that it took him 3 years to tell me that he wasn't called 'George' after being repeatedly labelled as such at various London events. Stoked for you big man!


Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Rooney

And that, as they say, was that. Once again, huge praise and respect to all at Vans, massive thanks to all the staff at Mount Hawke and, last but not least never-ending knucks to all the skate shops that turned up, (along with all those who couldn't make it this time) for doing what you do.

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Dylan Hughes nollie heelflip

Final results as follows:

  1. Black Sheep
  2. Skate Warehouse
  3. Slick Willies
  4. The Level

Best Trick - Josh Mayson

Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark
Vans Shop Riot 2018 Mount Hawke skatepark Josh Mayson best trick winner

If you require further insight from some of the skaters who were in this year's Vans Shop Riot and/or you want to know how the judging worked then you could do a lot worse than to check our The Skateboarding Show's interviews from the weekend on their YouTube channel, or via the links here.