The Coast News Group
Chris Corrente’s Kuwmaz Carve System Ultralight could bring back sidewalk surfing in a big way. Photo by Chris Corrente

The return of sidewalk surfing?

Skateboarding, as many of you know, was once called “sidewalk surfing.” This was not a sport of its own, but a fun pastime for surfers after the waves blew out. 

Being confined inland during my youth, sidewalk surfing was my exclusive way of practicing real surfing during five-day-a-week dry spells. 

But steel roller skate wheels can take you only so far before the tiniest pebble interrupts your life by putting you into direct contact with concrete or asphalt.

Even after countless scrapes, however, I continued jamming through town on my little rolling two-by-four. By the time urethane wheels came along, I was living at the beach and was no longer interested in any activity involving hard surfaces.

I was vaguely aware that the urethane revolution had led to riding ramps and pools and that they had taken skateboarders to heights never before imagined. 

The skateboard came, saw, conquered and stagnated. For about half a century. 

That is not to say that lighter materials with controlled flex have not made decks better, but the skateboard of 2024 is not significantly different than ones produced in 1999.

That began to change the day surfer/skateboarder Chris Corrente went to work for Carve Boards, a company owned and operated by pro surfer Brad Gerlach’s father, Joe.

With their unique suspension, Carve Boards feel more like surfboards than conventional skateboards, and while they are not built specifically for tricks or high flying, they have made sidewalk surfing a fun reality again.

While Corrente enjoyed working with Gerlach, his need for continual experimentation with new designs made it inevitable that he would one day start a company of his own. 

It’s been around a decade since Corrente, Carl Ekstrom and I had lunch and discussed the boards Chris was producing, which were unlike anything I had ever seen or tried. 

At that meeting, I brought up the idea of splitting a skateboard’s truck to adapt Ekstrom’s asymmetrical concept to skateboarding. It didn’t seem like anyone was listening.

Under the mysterious name Kuwmaz Carve System, the board I tried that day felt alive under my feet. Okay, that sounds like I was ripping into the sidewalk like an elderly Danny Way before vaulting the Great Wall. 

Alive is a relative term, and honestly, I was moving really slowly and cautiously, but still had that weightless feeling of surfing on land.

Kuwmaz’s newest generation, the Carve System Ultralight, is, as the name implies, ultra-light. They are also, I am told, far more maneuverable and feature a device below the deck that resembles an arrow and can be used to add or lessen the flexibility of the board’s deck. Trippy.

While Kuwmaz has four models including the Agarthan, which can accommodate skaters weighing as much as 350 pounds, Corrente also builds custom boards. 

A master craftsman, he takes a person’s size, weight, ability and other factors into consideration before handcrafting a skateboard specifically for each individual rider. 

My friends often warn me not to skateboard at my age, but hearing the sound of wheels rolling over asphalt inevitably sends me onto the street where I cautiously ride down some very gentle hills. 

During a recent visit to Ekstrom’s shop, he showed me a beautiful asymmetrical skateboard built by Corrente. 

Turns out, someone was listening after all. Now, I’m listening and wondering what new design will come to life guided by this master’s hands.

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