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Longboarders from around lower BC take on Ukee competition

A popular staple on the Ukee Days annual calendar is the downhill skate competition.

This year's competition was organized by Ucluelet's youth coordinator Erica Benson, who was taking in her first ever Ukee Days experience.

"It's an important event to get the youth involved and to attract people from out of town to help celebrate Ucluelet in a healthy and fun way," she said.

About 23 longboarders descended on Ucluelet from various Vancouver Island locations as well as the Mainland to take on the Marine Drive track that boasts a 90-degree turn equipped with hay bails to cushion fails.

Along with the straight downhill event there is also a slalom event, which tasks boarders with maneuvering through pylons.

The event's roster of young longboarders rubbed wheels with professionals as two Vancouver based longboard companies-Switchback Longboards and Flatspot Longboards- were on hand.

"Switchback has been huge in this event and Flatspot has also been instrumental in helping us this year," Benson said.

Victoria's Derek Smith attended the competition for the first time in 2012 and it immediately became entrenched in the 18-year-old's summer calendar.

"It's pretty sweet, it's a really chill hill, mellow, it's not like a super hard race, everyone can skate it and it's pretty fun," he said.

Smith said he is a fan of the

Switchback team and was stoked to ride with them.

It was the first time Philippe Boutin, a Quebecer currently residing in Nanaimo, has attended the event and he hopes to catch the annual experience every year from now on.

"First of all it's the Switchback team and these guys are just insane so I was like, yeah I'll join them for sure, like holy," he said. "Now I'm just checking them out and it's my first race ever as well so it's pretty good stuff...I'm having so much fun even though I'm kind of failing at racing."

Boutin said he loved the event's laid-back atmosphere.

"Everyone's having so much fun, everyone's fooling around, the race is not serious; it's really friendly competition and everyone's just here for fun basically so really good vibes all around," he said.

Benson hopes the annual event will continue to draw in youth

from other areas and help marinate local interest in longboarding. "We definitely want to keep it going and see more and more riders out and keep the sport alive," she said.

The competition kicked off at 11 a.m. on Saturday giving Ukee Dayers time to make their way from the Ukee Days Peninsula Road parade route to Marine Drive.

The event moved from Ucluelet's Main Street to Marine Drive between Black Rock Resort and Cynamoka Road in 2012 after a Longboard competition hosted by the Ucluelet Community Centre's Edge Youth Room pegged the area as a more attractive stomping ground.

Aidan Reynolds took the race's top honours followed by Riley Richters; the free ride competition was won by Laine Jackart, with Levi Green finishing second.

Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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