Photo: Pierre van der Spuy
Highly respected South African skateboarder/longboarder, Kent Lingeveldt, has been named Kryptonics First International Brand Ambassador. Lingeveldt, 33, is a skateboarder, photographer and the owner of Cape Town skateboard company, Alpha Longboards. Kent started as a street skater, at the age of 14. In 1999, he entered the world of downhill longboard racing, taking part in the first Red Bull Downhill Extreme in Cape Town down the infamous “Glen Road”. From 2004 to 2006, he competed at races in Europe and South America and in 2009. He returned to racing in 2011, after a two-year break and still races locally and abroad when the time allows.
Kent regularly does informal work with local kids in and around the poorer communities in Cape Town and together with an older generation of longboarders he works to nurture skateboarding as a life-skill for kids that opens up their minds to a world of an extended skate family worldwide.
Kent started Alpha Longboards in 2001 and in the past 12 years, has handmade over 500 boards. His boards are ridden across the world in 13 countries on five continents. He has collaborated with artists Atang Tshikare, Toni Stuart, Khaya Witbooi, Nardstar, Rico Swanepoel, Motel7 and Mr. Fuzzy Slippers to create Alpha art boards. His Local Legends series honours South African greats such as Nelson Mandela and in April 2012, he met Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and presented him with his own Tutu Alpha art board. He regularly exhibits the Alpha Longboards art boards in his home of South Africa as well as in Germany.
Kent with Desmond Tutu
Lingeveldt has been involved as a test rider for the new Kryptonics Star Trac wheels over the last few months, putting the wheels through their paces on the varied terrain of South Africa.
In addition to representing Kryptonics Star Trac Wheels at skateboarding events, Kent will also be promoting the brand through social media and self-produced skateboarding videos.
In announcing Lingeveldt’s joining the ambassador program, Kryptonics Wheels Brand Director Steve Douglas commented, “We are stoked to have a skater of Kent’s abilities, and just as importantly his involvement with South African youth, representing Kryptonics Wheels”.
Tell us a bit about where you live.
I live in Cape Town, South Africa, born and bred. It’s a port city at the southernmost tip of Africa. Because it’s a port city, Cape Town is quite diverse and cosmopolitan with many different nationalities and cultures making it a rad melting pot of people.
When did you start skateboarding?
I started skating in 1994, the same year South Africa became a democracy.
Did you play other sports as kid?
I come from a very sporty family and my Father played professional and national soccer in his prime, but I could never get the hang of playing the game, and ended up doing cross-country running at school.
Kent on the podium at Hot Heels
When you started skating, was it on a longboard? Or did you skate street or vert to begin with?
I started skating street. Where I grew up and spent most of my time in the city centre was very urban, and a perfect playground for street skating. I remember street skating being one of the most racially integrated pastimes at the time, especially for the times and changes our country was going through, from Apartheid to a democracy.
What attracted you to longboarding?
The need to go faster downhill. My first two years of downhill racing was on the widest street decks I could find at the time. So I knew the bigger the board the better for downhill skating. Also in 1994 when I started skating, we lived on a hill, and I got shown how to slide by a guy called Wayne Moses who lived on the same hill, and sliding was so much easier on a longboard when going fast.
When did you start racing?
I started racing in 1999 at the inaugural Red Bull Downhill Extreme down Klooofnek Road/The Glen in Cape Town. Between 1999 and I think 2002 we only had that race each year and we would have international riders from America, Europe, South America and Australia come to compete. In 2004 I made my first trip abroad to race in Europe and then in following years South America and Australia.
What do enjoy about racing?
The coming together of the community to hang out, go fast, and inspire each other to do better. With the boom in the downhill racing equipment industry, racing is also a way to keep abreast of what’s new and out there and what’s doing good and what’s not.
How did Alpha Longboards come about?
Alpha Longboards started out in 2000/2001 out of a realization that I need a longer deck than my street deck to go faster down hills. Coming from a family with not too much extra cash to import a European or American brand back then, I just got a piece of commercial ply from a hardware store and cut out my first longboard. Mates saw the boards I was cutting out and shaping and started buying them from me, and BOOM, I was a small board shaping company.
Photo: Zwelibanze Sitole
What was your inspiration for the Desmond Tutu and Ghandi decks?
They form part of a stencil-art series of boards called the LOCAL LEGENDS series. Images include that of Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Miriam Makeba, and Imam Haron. It’s intention is to inspire South Africans to pay homage and be inspired by our own local legends rather than heroes outside our borders. Especially the youth. Also to make them aware of these heroes of our country that maybe our school textbooks do not teach them about.
It must have been very cool to meet Desmond Tutu, can you share that experience with us?
I am also a documentary photographer and a friend of mine is making a documentary on a young anti-apartheid activist who was killed in the late 1980’s by the police for his work. Ashley Kriel’s funeral was the first political funeral Desmond Tutu officiated as the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Cape Town, so we interviewed him about the funeral for the documentary. And I thought here is my chance to give him a deck with his image on it and possibly have him sign one for me. He loved it and has his own deck hung up on his office wall.
We’ve heard that you do quite a bit of work with the underprivileged kids in your area. What kind of programs/activities are involved?
I studied Child and Youth Development in the early 2000’s and also worked in childrens’ homes while studying, but stopped because it took too much time away from skateboarding. So I have always had a want to work with kids, mainly because many of them come from similar home backgrounds as myself and therefore it was awesome for them to chat to someone who can relate. Currently I have a group of kids in the area where my Alpha Longboards workshop is in that get support from me with skate gear and I also work with them in showing them the life skill that is skateboarding. The ability to get up and try again when you down. It’s a very informal arrangement, which I prefer, because it also allows me to be myself and not force myself to be somewhere when I do not actually want to.
You’re also a photographer, how did you get into that, and how long have you been shooting?
I bought my first camera when I was 17, straight out of high school. It was an old Russian camera called a Zenith and it had the insignia from the 1980 Olympics. I had to buy it because I was born in 1980! As a skateboarder, we see the world differently from non-skaters, and it was the ‘other side” that I wanted to capture and show the world. Also documenting my close skate crew from back then got me to shooting lots back then.
How’s the South African longboard and racing scene?
It is growing really fast. The amount of groms at races and sliding events sometimes overwhelms me and definitely shows that there are no signs of slowing down. Everyone is fast too, so this makes for tight competition at races between all ages. I am hoping to see some more local product manufacturers come out of South Africa in the near future.
Photo: Zwelibanze Sitole
You recently placed third in the Master’s Class at this year’s Hot Heels event. What was your setup? How did the Kryptonics wheels perform?
Yeah, the old man’s class, lol. I was riding an Alpha Longboards topmount racing deck with Navigator precision trucks and the 75mm 78a red Star Tracs. Their acceleration was awesome and they maintained a good rolling speed. They were definitely up to challenge the other wheels out there right now, I should just become a better race, haha. Where they really impressed me was the grip. The sharpish edge really bit and gripped when I needed them to and this really gave me the confidence to go as fast as I could around corners.
You’ve been riding the new Kryptos for a couple of months now, can you share your thoughts on the wheels?
Each duro performs exactly as one would expect from a 78a, 82a and a 86a wheel. I am the kind of skater who looks for any excuse to put a wheel sideways and what’s really stood out for me was how long they last and keep their shape. I do lots of sliding and still on my first set of green 70mm from three or so months ago, and they probably only down to 60mm. Because I also like to hook into my slides at speeds, I enjoy a wheel that’s not uncontrollable and that whips back from a slide when I lift my weight off it, and this is where I enjoy skating the new Star Tracs. Their minimal sidewall movement means that they keep their shape nicely and acceleration out of corners are really top. I am really looking forward to a full year of racing and free riding on them next year to gauge their consistency throughout the year.
How does it feel to be Kryptonics Wheels first international Ambassador?
I am still just a kid stoked to be riding a wheel that can tell you the story of his journey on a longboard man! I have been skating Kryptonics since 2000 when racers like Eric Lee, George Orton and Waldo Autry came over to race the Red Bull Downhill Extreme and gave us locals some Kryptonics Classics, 70mm and 76mm to race with when they saw the sketchy wheels we were riding. It feels like a childhood dream to be part of something that has shaped skateboarding since its formative years. Guys could not believe that I was still racing with Kryptonics Classics three years ago. I was at Newton’s Playground in Australia for the World Championships in 2009 and some grom came up to me and asked what new wheel on the market I was skating, referring to the Kryptos I was skating.
Did you know much about the heritage of Kryptonics Wheels before becoming an Ambassador?
A little bit chatting to the riders from America who came to race in Cape Town in the early 2000’s. The information and images on the Star Tracs Facebook page has been amazing in really letting me know what I am actually part of. It really blows me away.
What’s 2014 look like for you?
I am lucky enough at this point of my skateboarding to be picking up fresh sponsors and this really makes committing more time to skating easier as I love fully representing brands I am connected to. So because of this, I would really want to see how much travelling I can do internationally for racing, which will in turn also mean loads more freeriding with downhill family members around the globe. Also this year was spent establishing relationships with the group of kids I mentor through skateboarding and really want to work with them in getting them race ready and competing. So all in all, skating, shaping boards, and taking pics along the way to get people glimpse into our world.
The new line of Kryptonics Star Trac Wheels will be available soon from a Revolution store near you.
Photo: Matthew Wareley
Photo: Pierre van der Spuy