The creativity and driving force behind SP8BOARDS is Andy Speight, a long time skateboarder, who
has brought his passion for skating, his ability to draw and his engineering expertise together to design and produce custom decks.
At the moment he and the rest of the SP8BOARDS team are getting ready for the new season. We take a moment to catch up with him 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 about 10 at the time and I remember having wanted a skateboard for ages. When a mate down the streets wanted to sell 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......
Did you ever stop skateboarding?
Not really. Even when the craze was over in the 70s I kept going. I used my skateboard as a means of transport. Even now I often collect our Chinese takeaway on one of my boards ( with LEDs on in case it is dark).
What was your favourite board (apart from your SP8boards obviously)?
Probably the one I had in the early 80s. It was a G & S fibreflex, a really thin deck made out of laminated fibre glass. I had a custom set up of OJ’s and gullwing trucks (hpg 4 split axles). I paid about £60 and it nearly makes me cry to think they cost about £500 today.
Where is your favourite place to skate?
At the moment, the Peak District.
Really smooth tarmac, long hills, great scenery and not much traffic. What isn’t to like?
Where is the most exotic place you have skated?
It depends what you mean by ‘exotic’. I have done Scarborough seafront, most of Bradford and even Hull. But I have also travelled a lot, particularly in the US and I usually find myself a board. I have skated in Yosemite, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco, to name a few. One of the most beautiful places was Crater Lake in Oregon, a volcanic crater filled with stunning blue water.
Where would you like to skate?
I would like to luge some of the big places like Maryhill in the US and also to slide/downhill the Trollsteigen in Norway (I was there this year without a board!). I have always loved the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, particularly the part when the main character is skateboarding in Iceland. I have been to Iceland and have promised myself I will return one day with a skateboard.
How many boards do you own at the moment?
Why so many?
I don’t stick to one type of skating. Each style, for example, cruising, skatepark, sliding and dancing, needs a different board.
I have noticed you wear a helmet. When did you start and why?
I didn’t at first - not many people did. 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.....
You started racing last year. Any plans to do more this year?
Absolutely. It was great to have the time to start last year and I really enjoyed it. I will be at as many events as possible over the coming year.
Why did you decide to race luge instead of downhill?
I am too old for broken bones (laughs). Seriously though, I enjoy downhill but the standard is amazingly high and if I was to keep up with the other guys, I don’t think it would be long before I got injured.
Do you have any other interests apart from skateboarding?
I enjoy spending time with my family but other than that, I like snowboarding, surfing and, occasionally, mountain biking. I am also a Karate 4th dan and have done it for 28 years on and off. Oh and I am very fond of eating liquorice too.
What is your philosophy of life?
Try not to do anything that doesn’t put a smile on your face and joy in your heart.
What next for SP8boards?
I am just working on a new range of standard boards for the 2018 season. They will be available from end of February.
Andy is 50 years old and lives in Leeds with his wife and family. Follow him on Instagram (sp8boards) and Facebook, (@sp8boards.)