Chris's story is nothing short of Inspirational.
His response to why he wanted to be Slyde Ambassador grabbed our attention and pulled at our heart strings.
"I believe that this sport in itself has allowed me to reclaim a part of my life that thought I never could, the access to the oceans and waves, the barrels, something I only knew by looking at surfers from the beach.
I only have one functioning arm and I have tried a few boards until I came across Slyde Handboards, the way that I looked at your board was like looking at the board I imagined I would have someone make for me, the size the finish, the strap , everything about it simply made sense and matched the vision of what I thought I needed out there to go bigger and catch waves easier, and boy did she deliver."
Find out more about Chris and his Slyde Lifestyle below:
Where are you from/born?
I am South African
by birth, I have two siblings we where all born here and raised in Germany
, British mom German dad. I came back home in 2003. Looking back I think it was the love for the ocean that made me pack up and move south.
What do you do for a living? Hobbies outside of handboarding?
Hmmm thats a good one, literally with 100% certainty no one knows what I do when I say Repro Art lol, unless you work in the packaging industry. I set up designs for print in a Design Studio here in Cape Town
, graphics & retouching and stuff like that. I did a degree as a media designer way back. When it comes to downtime, I seem to do a lot of things, I have been Skateboarding
since 1984, still going strong, I can pull a pretty good ollie once the old bones are warmed up, I longboard
more now. I dig going up onto Table Mountain drive with my three Dogs Pearl, Susi & Luke and just do lazy Cruise on a Sunny Sunday afternoon.
It's somewhat a feeling of freedom that comes with the movement of being on a skateboard that I can’t get enough of, other than that I trail run in Newlands Forest after work with the pack, and cycle to work if the Cape weather allows it. I would somewhat qualify as a adrenaline hunter as I prefer to go fast , even on the Lazy cruise.
What's your first memory at the beach?
Man its amazing how our brain stores images spanning our entire life, I feel the first one was of my granddad cruising on a wave on a old school Belly Board in Glencairn Beach
, just going straight towards the beach with a big smile on his face, my grandparents loved the ocean.
How did you get into bodysurfing/handboarding?
My entire family was & still is in love with the ocean and I recall my dad doing the torpedo straight down any wave that was manageable when I was a kid, he loved it & still loves it, so I think thats how it kicked off.
Living in Germany
there wasn’t really access to decent waves so I only picked it up again when i came back down to SA, i spend hours in freezing water with board shorts just going straight, no flippers, loads of hypothermia going on there.
I did that for quite some time and it must have been about 2-3 years back my mate Dennis gave me a Wawa Handplane for my birthday, well crafted wooden boards made locally by Cobus Joubert of Rollingwood.
He gave me this board & I really didn’t know what I was doing as I went out with it in maybe 1m waves, so on the second try I go straight and I wreck my shoulder quite badly and it took almost a year to recover, but I had tasted seawater. I went back out & I swear it was like a entire new world of joy opening up, sure being out there with one arm made me slightly skittish in the beginning, but I learned to conquer most challenges and those of the mind in particular, you can’t let fear be the deciding factor when you know that all you want is to get barreled and feel that energy that waves give you.
Going out there just with a small handplane a set of fins changed the entire dynamic, it took a while to get the technique right, but yeah I got the hang of it after a while. Once i had the technique waxed I started talking to Cobus, who is passionate about bodysurfing, about going bigger board wise and I developed this idea of the ideal handboard in my mind.
After a little research I struck gold when seeing Slyde online. I spoke to Angela and Steve at the time and bought the Carbon Black Wedge
, and after a wait, I think slightly over a month, my board arrived, initially another learning curve as its really something else, but after a little reading and watching some videos I got the technique right. It's fascinating how every board requires a sightly different approach when it comes to handling. Slyde equals bigger waves longer rides, reminds me i need to get a Bula !!
What's your favorite local and non-local break to Slyde?
My favorite Local is Longbeach Kommetjie
, always produces, but there are plenty in and around Cape Town and quite a few that I still want to explore. As for anywhere else/ overseas, I am still destined to see what is out there, kinda want to do a surf trip up the east coast in SA , and i reckon overseas state side,would be nice meet the Team.
What 3 people would most like to be on a party wave with?
Ok, its not easy but here goes - Mark Cunningham plus the Slyde Handboard team ...a crowds a party right !?
What piece of advice or words of encouragement would you give to someone who's never experienced a Slyde Handboards before?
I think when you see someone out there with a Slyde Handboard , just ask them if you can take it for a spin, I always hand it over if i meet guys out there and the response is always the same, fat smiles and general amazement. When you get your own take it easy and ease into it, its like learning any new skill, take a little bit of time before you go all in....but make sure you go all in at some point.
Any closing words of wisdom or motto to live by?
I believe that water is our element, I am out there with one functioning arm and I push myself to go bigger, further and most importantly enjoy what I am doing.
Sure, I get knocked down, caught in rips - scared the living heck out of me, but I will always come back for more, dig deep and conquer your my fear because riding waves has never been accessible for me until Slyde
created this wicked HandBoard…nope it aint a sales pitch, it's really how i feel! The sport Itself affected my life on a multitude of levels, not only health wise on a physical level, I refer to it as WaveYoga®
, but mentally as well, you're just happy as a kid being out there, fat smiles & whatever cloud could have been hovering I can assure you, it will be washed away by your first ride on whatever size wave. As for the most important part...always and I mean always respect the ocean
, like always.
Discover more about Chris and his SLYDE adventures on Instagram @chris_ocean33