Photos by Dougal Gorman
Scooters, fishing, drinking and rain. The least skating skate trip ever.
Up until last Friday, I was adamant I was driving down to Canberra to shoot the 20th Anniversary of the Belco Bowl Jam. But of course, on the weekend of Australia’s biggest skate comp, it rains cats and dogs. Waking up to torrential rain on Friday morning, I convinced myself it wasn’t worth going to Canberra, as it was likely Belco Bowl would quickly become Belco Swimming Pool. I was livid. Fucking rain.
After moping around Sydney all day, I began to get serious FOMO. What if, for some miraculous reason, it didn’t rain in Canberra and the comp went ahead? Come 4 pm, the FOMO got the better of me. Next thing I knew, I was flying down the Hume in the red rocket (my Toyota Corolla). Arriving in Canberra by 8 pm, it was straight to the Church skate shop for the official launch party.
Despite missing the 20 years of Belco Bowl Jam documentary, I caught the Church team video, which the locals lost their minds too. Drinks, homies and scooter stunts were aplenty that night. Turns out Canberra is the land of drunk teenagers on orange and purple electric scooters. According to some local boys, on Friday and Saturday nights the Canberra hospital increases their staff just to deal with scooter incidents. And I don’t blame them. They’re death traps, but fun ones at that. Best believe everyone got home via scooters that night.
Belco Bowl Jam is basically Canberra’s Christmas and Australia’s bogan answer to the Copenhagen Open. Fearing rain cancellations, the street comp was pushed forward to 11 am, forcing a lot of sore heads out of bed earlier than they would have liked. After a mellow start at Belconnen’s red banks, it was a small march over to the famous triple 2 for some serious hammers and cash giveaways. For those buck enough, there was big cash in the big 13. Taking no prisoners, the 13 set saw boards snapping and bodies flying everywhere.
After a serious dose of street, it was time to hit the park for the main event. Up until this point, it still hadn’t rained enough for cancellations. It was the miracle we were all hoping for. Skate gods exist, I suppose? Despite its 11 foot deep web, Belco Bowl wasn’t there to fuck spiders.
There’s something about bowl skating/skaters that is hardcore as hell. From the grommets to the OG bowl lords, that afternoon we were treated to some of Australia’s best bowl skaters.
Longest grind, highest air, best trick over the channel, and best trick on the feature wall were all opportunities to earn some cold hard cash. Although the youth took the cake, my top pick of the comp was RJ Barbaro with some of the most tweaked/boned front side airs I’ve ever seen.
After multiple attempts at blunting the extension feature, RJ came a cropper, unfortunately busting his head open on the flat bottom. Never fear; hours later he was spotted sucking back schooners at the local pub. Trick of the day, however, goes to Kieran Woolley with a cooked launch off the kicker, over the channel and into the deep. The results are as follows:
Lord of the bowl: Kieran Woolley
1st loser (2nd): Ethan Copeland
2nd loser (3rd): RJ Barbaro
Longest grind: Ethan Copeland
Highest air: Ethan Copeland
Best trick over the channel: Kieran Woolley
Best trick on the feature: Sam Giles
After a heavy-hitting open jam, the heavens finally opened. Against all odds, the 20th Belco Bowl Jam went off like a frog in a sock. From then onwards, beers and rain were aplenty. Saturday afternoon consisted of standing around in the rain drinking beers and watching Sydney’s finest fisherman trying their luck in Canberra’s shittest waterways.
With nothing but Subway bread and ciggie butts as bait, it was no surprise the lads caught nothing but seaweed. If I’m being honest, Canberra weirds me out and it’s certainly not on my holiday recommendation list. I do, however, recommend seeing Belco Bowl Jam. Load up the van, sink some beers, attempt to fish, maybe skate, maybe don’t, 100% ride an orange or purple electric scooter.