Witness The Wetness: Phil Zwijsen & Jarne Verbruggen Waterproof Interview

Phil Zwijsen’s Pro debut Waterproof part for Element premiered last Friday with a splash at the Antwerp Skateboard Contest. Chance for us to meet up with him and Waterproof sidekick, Jarne Verbruggen. With Jarne riding shotgun and Phil safely navigating Jarne’s infamous VW Polo through the stormy seas of Antwerp traffic – pretty as smoothly as he manhandles his board on 20m plus powerslides on the slippiest of surfaces in Waterproof – we got a quick breakdown of skating and filming in the wet; obstacles to overcome, material wear and potential sequels.

Basically, here is all you need to know to be ready when autumn will finally be knocking on the door for real – to waterproof yourself!

Witness the wetness!

Words & Pic: Jan Kliewer

Kingpin: So, Phil… you’ve moved to England a little while back – now it all makes perfect sense!

Phil Z.: Ha, yeah, it could have… Funny thing is though: we never actually filmed any of Waterproof in the UK. It’s been quite a task to get everyone together to shoot. Plus it had to rain constantly! Filming was definitely hard to plan.

KP: How did you get the idea then in the first place? What was the inspiration?

P: Well, I filmed this clip in skatepark in Norway, “Hydroplane”. Kind of just making the best of a rainy day. That’s when I got the idea to try and film a whole part with these kind of tricks, making use of the rain and slippery obstacles. Really, I just wanted to try something different, try and find specific spots for all these powerslide tricks rather than just do “normal” skating in the rain. The aim was to really see where we can go with making the rain work for the skating and especially for these sliding tricks. But finding these spots was pretty hard sometimes. They had to slide the right way and so on. For example, marble doesn’t slide as good in the rain as one would think. Not for long slides anyway. Wood, metal and actually rough concrete worked pretty well.

Jarne Verbruggen: I’d say metal worked the best.

P: The thing is, you need to adjust to first, take a few slip-outs, but once you’ve done that it starts feeling like a long manual almost.

»Funny thing is: we never filmed in the UK!«

KP: What was the toughest challenge to conquer for Waterproof?

P: Having rain! It might sound stupid. But think about it: When you skate and you’re trying a trick for two hours – and then it gets dry…! You can’t film anymore! It was pretty retarded sometimes. Because most of the times it rains, but then dries up relatively quick again. You have to be on it.

KP: Did you take trips to somewhere particularly rainy? Scotland maybe?

P: Yeah, we did actually. We went to Bilbao when the forecast was predicting constant shitty weather. But it’s always hard to predict in advance. You only sort of know a few days in advance. But everyone’s got their schedules, you have to book flights and so on… We basically did this for two years: searching for rain. Pretty much whenever we all had time to go, we figured out the destination with the biggest chance for rain. We actually did consider Scotland, but you need weather AND certain spots. Then trying a trick that you’ve never done before…getting these things aligned was the challenge. There was definitely more work involved in this than many might think. Davy van Laere helped a large part putting it all together.

KP: I agree, Waterproof looks pretty choreographed. It looks like a lot of thinking must have gone into it.

P: A lot of work. A lot of patience… you don’t always end up getting your trick. And then, all you got that day was super wet and cold! And you feel fucked because it’s hard on the body…

KP: What was the funnest bit about skating in the rain?

P: The spots that slid well, where everything really worked out; the fountain in Antwerp for expample. Actually, the finished project is probably the most fun bit.

KP: What sucked the most?

P: Being cold and wet – and not even making your trick. Slamming insanely hard…

»You just need to slam once – then you’re good!«

KP: That slam at the bench gap looked horrible…!

P: That was extremely painful. Thing was: I was only trying to ollie the gap, I don’t think we would have used the trick since it wasn’t a slidy trick… but in the end I got to use the slam so it was worth it (laughs).

KP: Did the whole skating slippery surfaces constantly change your boardfeel at all? Do you feel like you’ve earned more balance or control?

P: I just got better at doing powerslides. It definitely was a learning process. We definitely got better at holding on to the slides towards the end of filming. Jarne picked it up pretty quick when he joined me on one of the last trips.

J: I really didn’t think it would work first. But like Phil said: You need to get into it. It’s really different from the balance you know from normal skating.

P: You basically want to tense up your whole body to hold the slide…

KP: Was it hard to go back to normal tricks after a session in the rain?

P: For me, not so much, no.

J: No, not really. It was harder to even get used to the rain. Phil kept saying: You just need to slam once – then you’re good.

KP: What about the board? Didn’t material have to suffer a lot? Must have been hard on board and bearings!

J: Well, my board was kind of fucked…

P: For me material wasn’t really an issue. The only time your board suffers in the rain is when you skate an old board. Water can soak in. A new board is sealed in lacquer. It might get soggy, but it dries and then its good again. I skated my board for a whole week at least.

J: Yeah, I didn’t change boards on trips either.

P: And the bearings you have to spin to get the water out as good as you can. They will get rusty a bit, but once you break the rust of they roll fine again.

J: Plus, you know, Element is just good quality…! (laughing)

KP: Were there any spots that you deliberately watered to be able to skate them and film for Waterproof?

J: There was this one spot in the parking garage…

P: Ha, it was indoor = no rain! But the spot was too sick not to try it (laughing).

»…plus, you know, Element is just good quality«

KP: So, will we get to see more rain skating from you guys?

P: Yeah, maybe.

J: I think Phil should do more, just because he improved so much towards the end of filming. You really see him evolve. The last tricks were mental!

P: In the beginning we would only to simple powerslides. Then towards the it got way more technical…

J: Well, you could also try other elements…how about a fire part maybe…(laughing)?

KP: Well, thanks guys, we’ll stay on the look-out for more.


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