Catching Up With Andy Speight
At the moment, the SP8BOARDS team are staying at home and taking the opportunity to plan for a brighter, post COVID-19, future (with a little bit of dreaming about the hills they are missing).
We take a moment to catch up with Andy Speight, the driving force behind SP8BOARDS and ask him a few questions.........
We know you have been skateboarding for a long time, but when did you actually start? It was about 1977 in the midst of the first big skateboarding craze in the UK. I was 9 at the time and I remember having wanted a skateboard for ages. When a mate down the streets offered to sell me his, I didn’t hesitate.
What was your first skateboard like?
It was a flat deck with rubber roller skate wheels. The trucks were pressed steel with a block of rubber (no bushings). The bearings were loose, open ones. It was a pintail shape, about 28 to 30 inches long, with no grip tape. There were stripes on top but just plain wood underneath. Was it desirable? No. Was it available and affordable at £2? Yes. Did I love it? Definitely!
You remember your first board, but do you remember your first injury?
I do. I was going to the local shop to get some cigs for my Dad ( we could do that sort of thing in 1977!). I went up a kerb. That was fine but then I rolled on about ten feet, hit a stone and got thrown off. I split both my knees. I remember getting up and carrying on into the shop. Whilst I was in the queue I felt something trickling down my leg. When I looked down, there was blood all over the floor. I told the shopkeeper, bought the cigs and returned home. There was no hospital - just some germolene and a few plasters.
Was that your worst injury? No. My worst injury wasn’t actually a skating injury as such. I was removing grip tape with a paint scraper and it slipped. A hospital visit, a minor operation and four stitches later......
You are probably better known as a street -luger. Are your skateboarding days over?
Not at all. I compete at street-luge - mainly because I am too old for the broken bones I would inevitably get if I was to try to keep up with the downhill guys. However, I enjoy all types of skateboarding, including downhill, cruising and sliding. I often use my skateboards as a means of transport too.
Where is your favourite place to skate/luge?
At the moment, it would be anywhere outside. Usually though, I enjoy the Peak district because it is relatively near, has some great hills and doesn't get a lot of traffic early on in the day.
I have noticed you wear a helmet. When did you start and why? I didn’t at first - not many people did in the 70s. Then I took up snowboarding and always wore a helmet. When I realised that I went as fast on a skateboard and the ground can be harder, I started wearing a helmet for skateboarding. It didn’t make any sense to do otherwise and I now regard it as essential kit.
Why did you start SP8BOARDS? It was a mixture of things. I am tall and wanted boards that suited my size. I love drawing and individuality. I am a qualified engineer and love working with wood and so knew (theoretically at least) that I could make one. My first SP8BOARD was fairly basic but people liked it and the business sort of took off from there. A few years ago I decided to leave engineering and give more time to SP8BOARDS. All the boards are designed, made and hand drawn by me - I love making them. Of course, I love testing them too.....
What was the highlight for SP8BOARDS in 2019?
I was thrilled to be able to put the finishing touches to my range of street-luges. I have been developing them for a while and have had quite a bit of success with racing on them. I am now happy that the three I offer: the Base, the Mini and the FMS, offer something for everyone across the price range.
Any plans for 2020?
With SP8BOARDS firmly established, I had originally intended to focus on competitions and racing this season. However, with that no longer possible, at least for the time-being, I am investing in updating my website, refurbishing my workshop and working on developing some product ideas.