Mamma Mia, Bro

Big Shrimpin’

Photography by James Griffiths
Words by Korahn Gayle

I’ve been skating for twenty-two years and I’ve been going on trips ever since I was about fourteen years old so you might think I’d know all there is to know about organising a trip. Think again. Yes, I’ve been on tons of trips, caught plenty of flights, spent countless hours in tour vans, shared hotel rooms, sofas, and floors with many a fellow boarder, and I’ve been lucky enough to ride my whizzboard all over the world, but that doesn’t mean I know anything about organising a skate trip.

In my younger years I didn’t think much about anything other than kickflips and counting stairs. I was totally oblivious to the world outside of skateboarding until I was in my early to mid-twenties and even then, organising trips was never my responsibility.
It was a job for the TM or whoever the oldest/most responsible person on the trip was. Whoever it was obviously did a great job because it never even crossed my mind that lots of preparation and organisation went into taking a bunch of skaters abroad.
I had my own things to worry about anyway, like trying to work out which seat I can get in the van, or where I should place the stickers on my board, what colour laces to wear, whether I had enough sweets to last me until the next service station, what the next skate spot was, where my bag was, where my phone was, lots of really important stuff. Ah those were the days…

Noah Mahieu, manual into the bank, Sa Riera, Mallorca

Anyway, there was a point to that ramble and that point was that in November last year Colin Kennedy hit me up and asked if I could lead a trip to Mallorca with some of the younger Nike SB riders and make sure everything runs smoothly. He said, ‘you’ll be great, you’ve been there done that a hundred times’ and in my head I thought, have I?, but I went along with it and replied, ‘Yeah sure, of course, no probs I got this!’ So, it was confirmed, a load of teenagers were going to Mallorca on a skate trip and I was going to be the responsible adult. I needed to get planning.

I started by writing two lists. One list of things that I needed to sort for the trip e.g., flights, van, hotel, etc. and another with things that could go wrong when dealing with teenagers. To help me come up with things that might go wrong I decided to think back to when I was a teenager and the mistakes I made. When I was young, I was known for being a real space cadet. I was constantly losing things like phones, iPods, wallets and passports. I missed a lot of flights too, so I thought if I just imagine I’m going on a trip with teenage me then I should be prepared for anything.

Eetu Toropainen, backside lipslide, S’Arenal, Mallorca

The first thing on my list was ‘Contact skaters to check they can make it’. That reminded me of a time in my late teens that I am not proud of. I was at home one Saturday morning after a big house party the night before. My mate Boyo had just popped to the shops for me because I couldn’t get out of bed. He bought me a couple packs of Skittles, a pack of Monster Munch, about eight Wham bars and a can of Coke (the usual hangover cure). I was watching Jus Foolin’, the Fifty Fifty video on cassette. Boyo left me with my survival pack and went out skating. I felt like Bjork, all alone and so peaceful until, RING RING. I look through the cracked glass on my Blackberry and I see the words ‘Colin TM calling’. ‘Nooo’, I put my phone under the pillow and waited for the buzzing to stop. My head was pounding and I couldn’t care less about the pop-shuv tailgrabs Dan Wileman was doing on the TV anymore. All I could think was ‘why’s he calling now? There’s no way I can speak. I might be sick.’ The phone stops ringing and a minute later I hear BEEP BEEP. I took the phone from under the pillow and saw that I had a voice message. I left it a few minutes, as I didn’t want to be on the phone if he tried to call again, it would blow my cover. Eventually I risked it and listened to the message: ‘Hey Korahn, Colin here, can you make it on a trip to Barca starting tomorrow? Hit me up when you get this, cheers bye.’ Well, the hangover didn’t get any better and I can now admit 15 years later that I turned my phone off for the rest of the day and didn’t get out of bed. I never made it on that trip. Sorry Colin.

Vince Palmer, backside 180 kickflip, Palma, Mallorca

I didn’t have any problems like that with the Mallorca crew, they were all super keen to go on the trip and they sent their passports over straight away. Speaking of passports, I’d sent mine off at the end of October because it had almost expired (stoked I kept it for 10 years) and I was waiting for the new one to come back from the passport office. The trip was only a couple of weeks away and it still hadn’t arrived. I did a little Google search and saw that there could be up to a 16-week waiting time on new passports because of the backlog caused by the pandemic. I was stressing a bit now so I called Will Miles and told him what was going on and said, ‘worst case you might have to be the adult for a few days’, which he was cool with so that settled me. Cheers mate. So, after about six hours on hold, numerous phone calls and too many painful conversations with the Passport Office, I finally got them to send my old passport back so I could catch my flight and luckily it arrived just in time, two days before the trip. Phew. I was sweating it for a bit there. So, now we all had our passports and we were ready to go!

Eetu Toropainen, frontside 50-50 to gap-out, Palma, Mallorca

Another thing on my checklist was ‘Everyone catch flights to Mallorca’. That should be easy enough on paper, but I remember missing quite a few flights when I was a teenager so I triple checked everyone had the right details before we set off. I remember one time I was travelling to Tampa Am when I was 18 and I had a connecting flight in Washington DC. I reached Washington with no problems. I was waiting in the queue about to board my flight to Tampa when I noticed a sign that said ‘smoking area’. ‘What better time to go for a quick ciggy?’ I must have thought? (I told you I was a space cadet). So off I went following the signs until I found the little hot-boxed room. I borrowed a lighter from someone and drilled down a Lambert in about two minutes flat. After the head rush wore off
I stood up and strolled back to the boarding gate. To my surprise nobody was there and the gate was closed. I don’t know what happened, but I’d missed my flight. It was all fine in the end though because I called Kaspar Van Lierop (the TM at the time) and he was able to get me on the next flight a few hours later. Free of charge, probably… Sorry Kaspar.

Nils Matijas, 360 flip, Playa S’Arenal, Mallorca

Will and I arrived at Las Palmas Airport early in the morning so we could pick up the van and do the shuttles from the Airport to the AirBnB. I was relieved to see that the guys were much savvier than I was at their age, and nobody missed their flights. We had one issue with Noah’s bag getting lost in transit, but we picked it up the next morning, so it was no biggie.

I hadn’t really met any of the skaters in person yet, so I wanted to make a good first impression, so they all felt comfortable and safe allowing them to just focus on shredding and having fun. The Milano’s (Nils, Niko and Vince) had just arrived and were pretty hungry, so we went to the Burger King in the airport. I paid for the food and then told them to chill and eat with Will while I ran to the van to park it outside the barrier to avoid getting charged. I only had a couple of minutes left to get out of the barrier before getting charged so I started to run out of the arrivals hall but just before I get to the (very slow) automatic doors my camera (Fuji X100F) fell out of my man-bag and as it hit the floor I caught it perfectly with my left foot on the half volley (call me Robin Kran Persie) and it smashed into the automatic doors so hard. I let out a loud shriek but I didn’t have time to stop so I just grabbed the cam and kept running and I could hear laughter and cheers coming from Will and the Milano’s behind me. At least they were entertained if nothing else. I got back to the van and managed to avoid paying the five-euro charge. I checked the damage on the camera and it wasn’t looking good. The dial for the ISO and shutter speed was broken. It definitely wasn’t worth that five euros.

Noah Mahieu, ride-on bluntslide, Plaza Centre Salud Santa Catalina, Mallorca

That’s not the first time I’ve had bad luck with a camera on holiday. One time in Malmö back in the space cadet days, I was on a Nike trip with Magee, Mackey and a few others and I had just got a brand new camera. As soon as Magee saw me with it, he said, ‘I bet you lose that on this trip’ and the little bugger was right. I left it in a McDonald’s toilet on the side and by the time I went back to find it, it was gone. The worst part was that I had just taken the best picture I’ve ever taken in my life. It was of Mackey taking a slam at a DIY spot. He was trying a front blunt on this dry-ass ledge and he stuck and totally ate shit. I shot the photo at the perfect moment, just as his head connected with the floor and his board, feet and glasses were flying in the air. It was incredible. I’m so gutted I lost that pic. I might get somebody to draw it for me (*cough* Rob Mathieson *cough*). I hope whoever found the camera appreciated that pic as much as I did.

Anyway, back to the trip. It was 11pm and everyone was back at the AirBnB apart from Eetu, who I was just picking up. We were just two streets away from the AirBnB on this thin one-way street that had cars parked all the way up the right side of it. I had driven up it about four times now and was gaining confidence and speed each time. Well, this time I got a bit too confident, and I paid for it. SMASH I caught a wing mirror of a parked car as I drove past. I didn’t know what to do so I just drove off to assess the situation at the AirBnB. The back shell was totally gone off our mirror, so I decided to go back and see if any of the wing mirrors were salvageable. Will and I slowly drove back down the dark road until we reached the scene of the crime. Their wing mirror looked pretty messed up and just in front of their car was the back shell of what we thought was our mirror. Will jumps out of the car, grabs it and we start to make our getaway. Then I see another wing mirror up the street. ‘That’s our one, grab it!’ Will jumps back out and grabs that one so now we have both. ‘Maybe their one can fit back on, drop it out the car in case they need it’. Will drops it out of the window and I put my foot down. Unfortunately, it must have bounced back under the wheel of our car because as we drove off, we just heard and felt a huge CRUNCH! I had totally obliterated it. When we got back, we reattached the back shell to our mirror and it looked almost as good as new. We went back the next morning but the car was gone. I felt so bad about that. Sorry Mallorca local.

Vince Palmer, switch kickflip, Paris

Not the best start to the trip. One smashed camera and one and a half smashed wing mirrors. At least everyone had arrived safe and sound.I’m happy to say that I didn’t have any more major mishaps on the trip (bar one gentle little reverse into a wall) and things went smoothly thereafter.

Back in the AirBnB, everyone was getting on just fine. The Milano’s had dragged a bed downstairs so they could all stay in the same room, everyone was enjoying the food and drink that we picked up from the Carrefour earlier that day and the Supreme Beer Tower had already reached the height of Chicken Little’s head.

The trip was great and everyone killed it. Griff shot plenty of photos and Will stacked loads of footage. It was cool to see everyone shredding. I just sat back and watched the show and occasionally did a water or food run or a bit of ledge waxing or sweeping. Driving the van was always fun and there was no shortage of Trap and Drill music blazing out of the speakers.

I thought the crew were all really well behaved for a bunch of excited teenagers on a holiday. They were incapable of walking past an orange tree without breaking out in a full-on orange bomb war though, and if I was showing the menu on my phone to a waiter, I had to
do it fast because they were always ready to Airdrop you a messed-up picture that would pop up huge on your screen. Very clever! The AirBnB always stunk of Lynx because they thought it was funny to use a lighter and a can of deodorant as a flamethrower. We’d just be chilling upstairs then we’d hear a big FWUMMM and the room would light up with a fireball and they’d run away chuckling down the stairs.

The Milano’s were always trying to mess with Will. Their favourite line was ‘Fuck you Will’ in their high-pitched voices. They would drop that one all the time for no reason; I think it was a term of endearment because they love him really. One night we were heading to the local skate shop for a video premiere that Pancho (the best tour guide ever) had organised. We were pushing down the street, Will with a beer in his hand when I heard a SMASH! When I looked back, I saw Will lying on the floor with his camera bag on top of him and smashed glass everywhere. It looked awful, I thought he was gonna be sliced up. We all ran over to him as he picked himself off the floor like the Undertaker. His face was soaked in beer and he had shards of glass all over him. ‘Am I ok?’ Miraculously he was. He survived without a scratch. For about five minutes after that the guys were saying, ‘we love you, Will’ because they were so happy he was alright but that soon stopped and it was back to ‘Fuck you, Will!’

Eetu Toropainen, gap to backside nosebluntslide, Paris

Everyone was on one on the last night and someone threw up in the bathroom at the AirBnB and totally missed the toilet. They were in no state to clean it up so I did what any responsible adult would do and got scrubbing. Everyone was at the bathroom door retching and saying ‘it smells so bad’. That’s when I realised that it wasn’t only poo and fart that I couldn’t smell since getting Covid in 2020 but also vomit, an added bonus.

It was almost time to leave sunny Mallorca but Vince had some unfinished business at the Plaza, so I dropped the Milano’s there while I took the other guys to the Airport. Vince came through, stacked his trick and ended the trip on a high.
In the meantime, I went back to the AirBnB to check everyone had cleaned up like I asked. Did they heck! It was still a mess so I spent an hour tidying up after those pesky kids before locking up. I never tidied my room at that age, so I don’t know why I was surprised.
Once we’d dropped everyone off, Griff, Will and I went back to one last spot to get one last trick. Luckily, I got it just in time and we drove back to the airport, dropped off the van and checked in for our flight.

Korahn Gayle, switch backside nosebluntslide, Plaza Manacor, Mallorca

It was an awesome trip with a rad crew! Lots of lessons learned and on to the next one! (Paris)
The day after the trip I was chilling at home with my feet up, feeling pretty happy with how it had gone, when I got a WhatsApp message from the AirBnB host. It began, ‘Korahn, it’s a disaster!’ He went on to say how the house was a total mess and it was going to cost him 300 euros to get the cleaners in for the extra days of work. He also attached a load of pictures of the mess. Some of it wasn’t even bad like bin bags left in the house, and towels on the bathroom floor, pretty tame. Then there were pictures of a tissue paper splat on a window, the 12ft Supreme Beer Tower floating in the pool that I totally missed when I was cleaning, and worst of all a big scratch on the floor from the Milano’s dragging the bed downstairs, pretty bad. I felt really bad, as I didn’t want to disrespect the host or his house. I tried to apologise and explain but he wasn’t having it. He was pissed. I was also stressing because I didn’t want a terrible AirBnB review and I didn’t want Colin to think I was blowing it when I told him about it. I decided I had to bite the bullet and pay him out of my own pocket. I asked him to send over his bank details (which he did straight away) and I transferred the 300 into his account and sent a screenshot of the transaction. He didn’t reply.

Eetu Toropainen, frontside noseslide gap-out to fakie, Palma, Mallorca

The next day I got an email notification from AirBnB titled ‘You have received a review’. Uh oh, here we go… I clicked on the link and read the following: ‘Korahn and his friends were great guests and I look forward to them coming back soon ;)’ Plus he gave me a five-star rating… Money talks!