The first time we heard from Andrea Papa, it was December of 2011. He sent us a video of his son Edoardo riding at their local skatepark in Pescara, Italy. The title simply read: ‘Edoardo, Italian grom surfer’, and it contained a single, unassuming link. It showed a little kid in an oversized helmet, but you could see he had some real power behind his carves despite his diminutive frame. He pumped the walls of the park with ease, and brought a smooth surf style to his maneuvers that displayed a maturity way beyond his years. And when he rode a particular section of the park where there was a longer wall, it looked just like he was surfing a wave.
Father and son first discovered Carver in the Fall of 2011 when they were in Anzio, Spain, for Edoardo’s first surf contest. That evening while walking on the boardwalk they came across a young couple riding their skateboards. She was riding a brand new Carver and Edoardo naturally asked her to try it.
“Just a second later and he was surfing the sidewalk asphalt, and we were all astonished” recalls Andrea. “The day after I bought a Carver without thinking twice, and from there the story began.”
Andrea Papas began surfing in 1981 at the age of 14, played water polo professionally for 15 years, and in 1997 began a school, Surfing Sports Pescara, to teach surfing, windsurfing, sailing and SUP. He was ideally poised to recognize the training advantage Carver offered, and then put it to good use.
“It was an opportunity to find your mistakes in a controlled environment, and work on fixing them outside the water.” he said.
Andrea also saw how Edoardo was ripping at their local skate park, and began imagining how he could build something fun that would help improve one’s surf skills, and enable them to practice during the all-too-frequent flat days of their local break. They rode their boards on the sections of sidewalk that transition into driveways, finding fluid lines amidst the cement inclines while visualizing they were surfing.
After studying wave images and slow motion surf maneuvers, Andrea began making some sketches for a ramp shaped more like a wave. His first sketch shows an asymmetric half-pipe, with a roll-in on one side.
Andrea began searching for someone to help him realize his vision. He reached out to his longtime friend Angelo Zambito, who he discovered had just become Carver’s distributor in Italy earlier that year. He referred Andrea to Paul Nelzi, the manager of a skate ramp factory based in Torino. Paul was very enthusiastic about the project, and together they began working on some concepts.
The final design featured a slightly inclined section opposite the main wall, which served to focus the rider on either a frontside or backside approach. This was a big departure from traditional ramps and skatepark transitions that focus the line on getting speed from riding up and down opposing walls of similar size. But that is not how a wave works. Typically in a skatepark or halfpipe the center area is flat, so it does not encourage the rider to use it to bottom turn, as it doesn’t provide the traction needed to dig in and return back up the face. By slightly inclining the flat section opposite the wave, the rider now has the ability to better push off this incline in a proper bottom turn and return up the face, creating a true frontside/backside dynamic. And because the transition of their new wave ramp is gradual and the lip is soft, it also departs from standard skatepark coping, transforming the lip into something more like the water, with its easy blow tail and smooth reentry.
“Edoardo was highly involved in the project. He always provided me with great suggestions and focused feedback during his training sessions. I am also a really interested observer of all the various movements a Carver can let you do, and Edoardo is the best to take advantage of it, “recounts the proud Papa.
Watching early videos of Edoardo, one can see how he’s already using the walls of his local skatepark in this manner, and you can see the future of the WoodWave emerging. Now they had built their own ramp, and not only did it look more like a wave, it also rode more like one.
The next thing we knew, Andrea sent us a flyer to his new surfskate school, the Scuola di Surfskate, with photos of this long wave ramp and shots of Edoardo carving and launching all over it. He called it the WoodWave.
It was very exciting for us, as we had been imagining and drawing different forms of wave ramps, too. But since we were so focused on deign and production of the boards themselves, the wave ramp project had not yet found its way off the page. So when we saw photos of the completed ramp and what Edoardo was doing on it, we were incredibly stoked.
Now that he had a wave ramp in his backyard, Edoardo started practicing on it, strengthening his backside attack, and perfecting his frontside airs, but mostly just having fun. At the same time, Andrea continued developing techniques he could use on the ramp to train his surfing students, young and old, beginner and advanced. He saw that there was a dramatic improvement in their style and confidence in the water, as they began to translate the lessons they learned on the ramp to the waves they rode.
Edoardo continued to progress over the next few years, while some big surf brands started to recognize his talents. Billabong was the first to take notice, and added him to their European Grom team, and shortly after Vans also stepped up with a sponsorship too. Vans also signed on as sponsors for the school, recognizing what an important and innovative project it was.
The months passed and Edoardo’s skills were steadily improving. He began to dream of a new section for the ramp. Mid 2015, father and son added a steeper section in the center so you could come at it from both frontside and backside equally. The new design, referred to as WoodWave 2.0, added variation and challenge to the design and continued to drive Edoardo’s progression, as he took his airs and snaps to a new height, and sped up his lines around the course. He began riding a Fraktal double-kick pool deck set up with CX.4s, which were lighter and better suited for his evolving style.
Since its creation, the idea of creating wave-like ramps has spread to other parts of Europe and the world, becoming an important training system for surfers. From parts as far-flung as Israel, Spain, Portugal, Brazil and the US, numerous surfskate ramps and parks are in the design and early construction phases. In some cases, areas of the parks feature similar designs to the WoodWave, showing both the similarity in inspiration and the growing influence of this new trend in ramps. Even independent skaters have built versions of the WoodWave in their homes, bringing together their friends for indoor skate sessions regardless of the weather, like Peter Whitehead’s ramp below.
We’re so stoked that the creativity and inspiration to create new surfskate ramps has been so embraced, and we’re honored to bring you the story of the original wooden wave ramp. We hope that you too, find inspiration in their story and build one for yourself and your friends. We look forward to seeing how each person will make theirs, and what new features will come in the future. Carver is also embarking on a version of the wave ramp, so stay tuned. But in the meantime we can all thank Andrea and Edoardo for their vision, stoke and dedication in helping to bring about this new generation of surfskate ramp.
Andrea Papa lives in Pescara, Italy with his wife and son. A seasoned surf, windsurf and SUP coach, he runs the Surfing Sports Pescara surf school. The WoodWave surfskate project has also been introduced as a subject in the Educational Science course at the University of Abruzzo.
Edoardo Papa hopes to become a professional surfer and compete in the WSL and travel the world surfing and skating. He continues to train on his own personal WoodWave, and is working on the next generation of wave ramp with his dad. His newest surfskate video is being shared in media publications around the world, recently finding its way onto a dozen new websites and garnering thousands of views. He’s sponsored by Billabong, Vans, Dakine, RT Surfboards Carver Skateboards and Futures Fins.