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20 February 2011

Bowl-A-Rama Goes Rad At Bondi Beach, by Greg Tingle - 19th February 2011

Bowl-A-Rama. What's that I hear you ask?

Well, if you don't know you're not a mad, rad, skateboard nut.

The main event just happened to be first stop on the World Cup Skateboarding (WCS) leg .

Bondi Beaches' extreme sports fraternity had been looking forward to the big day and the show didn't disappoint. The motley crew has done Bondi Beach for the past 5 years, but insiders tell us that this year was the biggest, baddest and best to date. Yeah man, it was radical, as they say in cool skateboarding speak.

Beach locals would likely be aware of the skatebowl, but what most didn't know is that the bowl is favorite to many of the world's top skateboard pros (and masters aka legends).

Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, you would already know that the world of extreme sports, and certainly pro skateboarding, is big business and attracts million of dollars and some of the biggest media and sponsorship deals on the planet.

So, what's it all about? From a riders perspective the word is that fun is the name of the game, along with a massive adrenaline rush, but a reality check also shows for many its also about the big bucks, Oh, there's the party lifestyle, world travelling, chics and also a few unspeakables, not so suitable for a local newspaper's family orientated readership.

The event kicked off at 10am, but keen media and skate super freaks started showing up as early as 7am.

The promoter claims 100,000 or so folks witnessed the Bondi Beach event (but that includes the thousands of casual fans and others who couldn't fit in the purpose built arena (more on that later), who watched on the grassy knoll.

The thrashers, as they like to be called, were broken down into a few categories. You have the pros, with over a dozen showing Bondi their stuff, then there's the masters (or "legends") says Lee Ralph, and then there's the amateurs, who Bowl-A-Rama powers that be talent scouted.

A few things became obvious earlier in the day, before the event officially got on the way. It was be hot (literary and figuarably), sold out, cool, or rad, and that many of the worlds best skateboarders would be giving it their all, with a field that spanned the globe. Oh, Bondi Beaches's favorite son (of the skateboarding world), Mick Mulhall, continued to get a rock star ovation, but some insiders say he was never going to win.

Every skateboarder has their own story to tell, but the essence is fun, guts, stacks, tricks, parties, and just being the best you can be. Characters a plenty in this extreme sport.

The rider who grabbed our attention, and we suspect that of much of the crowd, was the well traveled Lee Ralph, who looked to be pushing 50, with his larrikin mannerisms, man-beast looks, impressive goatie, and never say die attitude, attempting some tricks that were never going to come off. When Ralph was quizzed on what's its all about he said "It's about fun, being the best you can be, and the rush". The master told us that he liked how many follows saw him and his peers as legends of the sport. "Man, that's cool, I like the sound of that. We just do our best, feed off the crowd, and have a hell of a lot of fun out there."

One of the youngsters of the sport, Pedro Barros (15), having flown in from Brazil, has already opened his own skate park, snatched X Games medals and just last year knocked out Bucky Lasek in the finals to win Bondi’s Bowl-A-Rama competition.

Todays's pro line up included Barros, Steve Caballero, Omar Hassan, Bob Burnquist, Rune Glifberg, Sam Beckett, Tony Trujillo and Corbin Harris.

"Winning doesn’t say you’re better than anyone, that was just a moment and Bucky didn’t have the luck of landing the tricks when I did. Being happy for me isn’t knocking out nobody, it’s just being around everybody and skateboarding. That’s what it’s about." Baros said.

He entered his first comp at three years of age and was fortunate enough to having a have a supportive dad who enjoyed the sport, plus avoiding serious injury didn't go astray either.

"I only broke my arm two or three times and I blew my elbow out of place not too long ago - nothing really serious. "It’s never good to hurt yourself, but whatever happens is supposed to. You can’t choose anything."

Bowl-A-Rama's pinnacle was on Saturday, but in line with the lifestyle, brought more than just a full day of rad thrashing to Bondi Beach. An impressive four days of parties, music and events were also part of the package. Even popular musos Infusion and Philadelphia Grand Jury joined in the fun and then there was the skateboarding inspired "Love and Guts Art Show".

Bondi Bowl-A-Rama was mainly bankrolled by Vans and Oakley. It was also Australia’s first-ever live webcast event for a skateboarding event, Barros won the pros, with an impressive portfolio of heavy lines, bio airs and a rad mix of stunts to win the Pro division.

The Masters was taken out by Steve Caballero - the third year in a row.

Bondi Beach, Waverley Council and Tourism NSW also won, with many shops and tourist attractions in the area reporting a record weekend trade.

Oh, that's right. You want to know who won and placed also.


1. Pedro Barros
2. Rune Glifberg
3. Bucky Lasek
4. Bob Burnquist
5. Renton Millar
6. Narthan Beck
7. RJ Barbaro
8. Nolan Monroe

1. Steve Caballero
2. Mik Mulhall
3. Lester Kasai
4. Nicky Guerrero
5. Sergie Ventura
6. Pat Ngoho
7. Sasha Steinhorst
8. Steve Alba

Best Trick: Bob Burnquist – Switch frontside heelflip frontside air

The verdict - Bondi Bowl-A-Rama was a world class sporting and pop culture event and Bondi Beach was truly blessed to have hosted it. Fun, dangerous, radical, totally entertaining and more. For $50 a ticket the main event day represented fantastic value for money, wowing the crowd for over 5 hours. Australia is already buzzing about their return next year and us locals can't wait to have you back.



*Photos by Eva Rinaldi Photography