"The appeal of downhill [skateboarding] is traveling. You have to keep exploring. When you find a perfect location, it’s like winning a lottery. It’s like we’ve set sail and found a new island. I want to share this kind of joy with other people" - Tay Warin
Downhill skateboarding is a style of extreme sport that combines the thrill of riding a longboard down a steep hill at high speeds and the pleasure of being out in nature. EQ meet with Warin “Tay” Santaputra, Nawapan “Maprang” Aunginsombut, Sonthaya “Plaeng” Dangmee, and Kritsana “Pete” Prasertpan, the team behind Naviskater to find out more about the sport and how they came together as a crew.
How the four of them met
Tay met Maprang, Pete, and Plaeng while he was working as a head coach for Thai skateboarders to prepare them for the 2019 SEA Games. After the four of them became good friends, they decided to form Naviskater, a group with a mission to search for Thailand’s new downhill stars.
“Naviskater comes from “navigator” and “skater.” The name describes us riders perfectly because we love traveling to different places to train and find new experiences. We want people to realize that Thailand is great for downhill skateboarding. We’ve been to 12 provinces and made 12 episodes over the year.”
What draws you to downhill skateboarding?
Tay: Traveling has a lot to do with it. I’d been skateboarding since I was young but I stopped when I went to university and had a full time job. When I decided to quit my job, I tried different hobbies before settling on longboarding. I felt like it was my calling.
Maprang: I’ve been longboarding for some time now, but only just got serious with downhill over the last 3 years. I love it because I get to concentrate on controlling my balance and speed. It’s a cool feeling to be able to make a quick decision and see how positively it turns out.
Plaeng: It puts me in this focus mode where I get to be one with myself. It’s also fun to hang out with my crew, feeling the speed, being out in nature and feeling free.
Pete: It allows me to be my true self because I don’t feel like I can be 100% myself when I’m at work or socializing with people.
Have you ever felt discouraged to continue?
Plaeng: I hurt myself a lot because I get too bold (laughs). I crashed into a bicycle and broke my chin once. I never want to quit though, it just makes me want to ride better. I try to look at it in a positive light.
Maprang: The most serious injury I had was when I lost control of the board, crashed and fractured my bones. I got discouraged not because of the pain, but the recovery period. I never wanted to quit either. I just want to get better and be more careful.
Can you tell us about your trips?
Tay: We try to go to less visited provinces because we don’t want be in the way of motorists. We’ll pack our bags right away if we find on Google Earth a nice long stretch of road with a bit of hill and curve, and in fairly good condition. There’s actually not a whole lot of preparation involved. People think these trips cost a lot of money, but it’s super convenient to go to these less visited areas. Plenty of gas stations, hotels, and nice roads to be had. 400-500 baht will get you a comfortable bed. The only thing is to make sure that everybody is free at the same time.
Maprang: We usually rehearse right away because we don’t have a lot of time to spare with downhill skateboarding. Add video shooting to the mix, we really need to make sure everything runs on schedule.
Which location impressed you the most?
Pete: I love Phrae because there’s hardly any traffic. It’s surrounded by hills and mountains so you can ride pretty much anywhere. People are super nice, too.
Maprang: I love Phuket because the atmosphere there is great. I love the sea and mountains, and I get to hang out with my downhill friends. There’s just so much to do there.
Plaeng: Hatyai because it’s a quiet city with great nature. All the ‘poo yai’ there don’t frown upon skaterboaders and I have friends there as well.
Tay: I have to say Prachin Buri. It’s super close to Bangkok, but often gets overlooked. The province shares the same Khao Yai forest with Korat. We usually ride at Khao E-to on this top notch hill road. They really support us over there.
Tay: Amateur riders don’t usually get the chance to compete at most events so we organized ‘NAVISKATER: Enjoy The PAVEMENT’ event for them at Khao E-to. It was so successful that people wanted us to do it again. We also plan to donate one skateboard to a school in need wherever we go to share the joy of riding.
Can you share some advice for beginners?
Pete: The most important thing is safety. You have to learn how to protect yourself and others. Some riders focus too much on upgrading their gear that they’re forgetting it.
Maprang: Prepare your body and mind. Women tend to panic more easily than guys. Safety equipment is also important.
Tay: Some riders may be born with talent, but for me, it’s all about practice. 15 minutes of practice everyday is better than none at all. It might seem like a sport for speed fanatics, but it takes practice and muscle memory just like any other sport.
“Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”
Check out Naviskater’s Instagram