ALPHA Longboards owner Kent Lingeveldt, the first black African to be one of the Top 10 skaters in the world, has been featured in the second visual collaboration series by Three Ships Whisky.
DURBAN - Kent Lingeveldt, the first black African on the Top 10 skaters in the world list, has proved that the South African skating scene can compete against the best on the planet.

Lingeveldt was born in Bishop Lavis and spent his childhood and teenage years living between Mitchells Plain, Atlantis and Woodstock.

He started skating at the age of 14.

The 38-year-old said his world of no brakes, extreme downhills and reaching speeds of around 100km/* was not for the faint-hearted.

“When I was 13 I lived with my grandmother in Hanover Park and a cousin of the same age also lived with her. I used to watch him and his friend skate and thought ‘I want to be able to do that’.”

From downhill or longboarding, the now Mitchells Plain resident said he had become obsessed with skating.

Lingeveldt has become synonymous with street culture and the art of longboarding not only in South Africa but internationally.

The owner of Alpha Longboards, Lingeveldt started competing in 1999, representing South Africa and, more specifically, his community in Mitchells Plain.

Not having enough money to buy his own boards made him start his own boarding company, Alpha Longboards.

Some 18 years later the company is still going strong, his market now mainly the recreational longboarder of all ages.

“If you came from the Cape Flats you didn’t have much money for a bicycle, let alone a skateboard. Yet it gave me a sense of freedom, a means of transport and a confidence that would later shape my skateboarding career.

“Today I want to inspire kids from the Cape Flats and allow them the freedom to become a success, regardless of the odds,” said Lingeveldt

Featured in the second visual collaboration series by Three Ships Whisky focusing on exceptional South Africans, Lingeveldt has crafted a product from wood similarly to the way the ranges of Three Ships Whisky were made at the James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington.

He said the idea was to “keep it simple”. It takes four days for him to shape a piece of wood into a “masterpiece”, during which time he laminates, moulds, cuts the shape and adds the fibreglass and varnish.

Lingeveldt shapes his boards from either South African pine or invasive blackwood. He said working with wood was tricky at times.

“I spend many hours on my boards and each time I pick up subtle changes that would make the board perform better or allow me to go faster.

“It’s a process of becoming one with the board, not making mass- produced items that all perform exactly the same,” said Lingeveldt.

“Besides skateboarding, I also have a keen interest in giving back by working with young people at risk, and in my late teens I started volunteering with various organisations that focused on this objective.

‘‘I studied child and youth development and spent a few years working at a child and youth care centre, James House in Hout Bay, focusing on the life skills programme for the youth at risk in the surrounding area,” said Lingeveldt.

- THE MERCURY